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Giraffe Manor – Luxury Travel & Ethical Wildlife Interactions

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Luxury Travel & Ethical Wildlife Interactions

Nestled within an indigenous forest in Nairobi, lies one of Kenya’s most iconic tourist destinations. Giraffe Manor has gained fame world over for its unique herd of resident giraffes. It’s highly likely that at some point you’ve seen a photograph of an enthralled traveller enjoying breakfast while a giraffe pokes its long neck through the window in search of a treat.

Giraffe Manor is a bucket list item for many travellers, nowhere else offers such an incredible and special experience – this is truly once-in-a-lifetime stuff!

Of course, for many, there is concern about the ethics of interactions with wild animals. This is where this blog comes in – to give you a breakdown of Giraffe Manor, so you know everything about this safari experience.


With only 12 rooms, Giraffe Manor offers an incredibly exclusive experience. It was built in 1932, during the safari golden age, and still echoes the romance of the era. It is almost like walking into Out of Africa, with the elegant interior, rolling green lawns and sun-drenched terraces. In fact, one of the rooms is named after Karen Blixen, the author.

The presence of the giraffes at the manor began in the 1970s, when the owners, Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville, adopted Daisy, an orphaned Rothschild’s giraffe.

How Does It Work

Giraffe Manor functions the same as any luxury, boutique hotel. It just has the added magic of surprise visits from giraffes while you eat your breakfast or stroll through the gardens.

We recommend staying one or two nights, using it as a stepping stone from Nairobi airport to your main safari destination or the other way around.

Is it Ethical? 

Giraffe Manor, even before it became hotel, has been a sanctuary and breeding ground for the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe. In the 1970s, there were only 80 of these giraffe remaining in the whole of Kenya. After the adoption of Daisy, the Leslie-Melvilles made it their mission to protect these endangered gentle giants, so much so that Betty became known as “the Giraffe Lady”. There are now over 1000 Rothschild’s giraffe in the wild, thanks in part to their efforts. Of the giraffes born at the manor, the majority will eventually be released into the wild.

But is the feeding of the giraffes ethical?

The short answer is yes.

The giraffes are at the manor, not as a means to provide entertainment to guests, but to breed them for reintroduction into the wild to counter the decline of subspecies.

The interactions are never forced or guaranteed – the giraffes are fully wild and only pop their heads through the windows when they decide to.  It is their placid nature that allows them to eat from the hands of humans – they have not been domesticated or trained.

What to Do

Of course, you can order the giraffe breakfast, which comes with pellets for the giraffes, if you’re lucky enough to have one stick its head through the window and say hello!

Besides feeding the resident giraffes, there is plenty more to do around the area.

  1. You can take a visit to the nearby David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust where you can adopt and meet a baby elephant.
  1. Visit the giraffe sanctuary where you can take a guided walk. Otherwise, take a stroll across the lawn to the African Fund for Engaged Wildlife Giraffe Centre (, where you can attend short lectures on the conservation of the giraffes, feed the giraffes with assistance from an Educator, walk the Nature Trail or have tea at the tea house.
  1. History buffs can discover the history of European settlers at the Karen Blixen and Nairobi museums.
  1. If you’re in search of souvenirs then we recommend heading to the Marula Studios, where you can purchase eco creations from over 50 Kenyan artisan suppliers.
  2. Treat yourself. At the end of the day, the main reason we go on holiday (except adrenaline junkies or eighteen-year-olds on a gap year) is to relax. Giraffe Manor has wonderful in-house spa treatments, ideal if you’ve just got off a long flight!

When to Go

You can visit Giraffe Manor year-round, except during May when it is closed for maintenance. Nairobi is warm during the day and cool during the evenings. Changes in season are minimal because of its proximity to the equator. However, March to May and October to December are the two rainy seasons. The winter months, June, July and August, can be quite cold – temperatures can be as low as 2oC or 35oF.

Making a Contribution

As we mentioned in our conscious travel blog, an increasing number of travelers are seeking experiences that aren’t just fun or exciting but also worthwhile and meaningful for a greater cause. Giraffe Manor ticks this box too.

The Giraffe Manor Sponsorship Programme works in collaboration with The Giraffe Conservation Foundation to ensure the protection and conservation of all giraffe species throughout Kenya. You can sponsor a giraffe for US$60, these funds go towards the conservation projects.

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