Whether you are heading on a Kenya safari holiday or to the beach, if you're in Nairobi for a day (or even just a few hours on a layover) then the Giraffe Centre is a great place to spend a couple of hours. Home of the Rothschild Giraffe, the centre is a world-famous nature education establishment where you can see environmental conservation in action, as well as get up close and personal with these majestic animals.
The plight of the Rothschild Giraffe
The Rothschild Giraffe is a subspecies of giraffe found only in the grasslands of East Africa. After losing their habitat in Western Kenya the survival of these giraffe seemed unlikely, until Jock and Leslie-Melville (a Kenyan citizen of British descent and his American wife) set up the Giraffe Centre in 1979. The first two giraffes were called Daisy and Marlon, and with them a programme of breeding in captivity began. Thanks to this initiative today there are over 300 Rothschild Giraffes living in various national parks across Kenya.
So what can you do at the Giraffe Centre?
The Browsing Area is where you can feed the giraffes with pellets of corn, wheat, grass and molasses. If you want to get even more friendly head over to the Feeding Platform and for the brave, there's the possibility of a special giraffe kiss. Ahhh or eugh, it's your choice!
Khaki clad 'Educators' can be found around the centre, ready to answer your questions and guide you through the different areas so you won't get lost!
At the Information Centre you can attend a short but informative talk on the Rothschild Giraffe to understand more about this endangered animal and how the staff are caring for them. There's also a range of interesting art work on display here if you have room in your luggage, the proceeds of which go towards supporting ecology trips for the underprivileged.
Over at the Nature Sanctuary there's a 1.5 km scenic nature trail (which doesn't cost any extra), a peaceful place to take a wander and see how many difference bird species you can spot (the record to beat in one walk is apparently 60!). Smaller animals like the dik-dik and squirrel can also be seen here, and there's a chance you might come across warthogs by the Warthog Den on the way back.
After your visit head to the Tea House for a well deserved cuppa, and some more giraffe watching. Because after all that's what you're here for! Much of the funding for the Giraffe Centre comes from the gift shop so be sure to linger here and choose some souvenirs to take home. I managed to transport a 4 foot wooden giraffe back to the UK on my last visit (which arrived home in tact minus an ear!) so I challenge you to top that.
Visiting the Giraffe Centre
Opening hours: 9 am - 5 pm seven days a week
Cost: Adults Kshs 1,000 (approx. £7) Child Kshs 500 (approx. £3.50)
Location: 40 minutes from Nairobi city centre (depending on traffic!)