THE GIRAFFE CENTRE NAIROBI
Giraffe Centre is one of the best attractions in Kenya where you can interact with these tall majestic animals. Whereas we found the area a bit confined and the location a bit far off from the Nairobi CBD, it’s quite ideal for kids and small groups. There’s a nature trail too for the nature lovers.
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Giraffes are not part of The Big Five. I recently learned that the term ‘Big Five’ was coined by hunters as they ranked the top 5 animals in the wild that are most difficult to trophy-hunt🤔. That’s a story for another day.
The Giraffe Centre in Nairobi is the biggest sanctuary where you can go say hi to these wonderful animals. World Giraffe Day is annually marked on 21st June. With respect to that, let’s check out Giraffe Centre.
How Will I Get There?
You can find it after you travel around 20Km from the city, as you near the Ongata Rongai border😁. Sawasawa, but technically it’s still within Nairobi county. Navigation can be a little tricky if you’ve never been ’cause most of the region past The Bomas of Kenya has dense thickets and forests and it’s easy to take a wrong turn.
Oh ye of public means? Board a bus heading to Karen/Hardy and make sure you ask if the driver will pass by Giraffe centre. Fares range from Ksh. 80 – 100, depending on inflation and peak shifts. It’s good to tell you that you’ll alight at a junction signboard with the road leading up to The Giraffe Centre, and not at the actual gate. The bus proceeds to Karen and you will need to ride a bodaboda to the actual gate. That’s 100 bob and Ksh. 150-200 if you’re two; 10 minutes ride.
Hailing a cab might be easier but definitely it will be expensive. Oh, you have a personal car? Even better!
We were charged Ksh. 250* per person which was quite fair. The Giraffe Centre doesn’t accept any cash payments and this is understandable and also convenient; most of these institutions are headed that way. You can pay via Mobile money and credit/debit cards.
*Update – Here are the current rates as at June 2019:
I don’t know why they hiked the rates but you can tell me what you think in the comments below.
I went there on a Saturday and found quite a crowd. I would probably advise you to go when the traffic is less, preferably a weekday. The atmosphere felt great and refreshing.
The notice board near the entrance guided on where to go and what to do. I noticed a small gift shop and a small restaurant by the entrance where some tourists with pitch black shades on were relaxed and enjoying a drink or two.
Giraffes almost never shy from attention. You can see their long necks beckoning you to come say w’sup, eagerly waiting to see what you brought. This is called the browsing area, where you get to feed the Twigas.
A friendly attendant smiled and reached into a bucket she was holding and gave me some pellets which I learned were giraffe treats. As a guest you don’t visit your host empty handed now do you? She explained that the treats are mostly dried grass mixed with molasses and the tall guys love them. (Note – they limit the times you get the treats.)
Meet The Tall Hosts
The browsing enclosure was a bit small and can get a bit crowded. Everyone wanted to feed them, to take selfies or just be near them. If you’re bold enough (or feeling a bit lonely), put the treat on your lips and pucker them to get a real PG-13 sloppy ‘kiss’.
There was one particularly feisty giraffe called Stacey (appropriate name) and I’m not making this up: Stacey actually drank water from the trough, swung its neck and pulled a Triple H into the crowd! 😁. So giraffes like most intelligent mammals actually have their own personalities.
Up the stairs was the information centre and here you get all kinds of resources to read about the Rothschild giraffes and the history of the centre. Oh, please get a guide, they provide really helpful info. Along the balcony, you can get up-close and pet the giraffe as he/she picks the treats from your hand and get really nice pictures. They’re really quite gentle beings. But then again, it might be a little crowded and you have to wait your turn with the giraffe. Remember to have enough pellets with you!
Speaking of helpful info:
Dogs bark, cows moo and lions roar. But ever wondered what sound a giraffe produces? 🤔 According to scientists, giraffes do have a voice box, but perhaps they couldn’t produce sufficient airflow through their 13-ft long (4 meters) trachea to vibrate their vocal folds and make noises. The researchers suspected the reason no one heard giraffe communication was because the sound frequency was too low for humans to hear! – Wired.com
After visiting the information centre, you are pretty much done with the giraffes. Across the centre is the 1+ Km nature trail where you can visit a no extra cost. The fauna is limited but you can catch a glimpse of a few squirrels and small dikdik running around.
The ecology is okay to observe but nothing to write home about. I actually felt the area was a bit neglected, with dried up watering points and bird-feeders. Or maybe the dry spells we have experienced in 2018/2019 are to blame. Yeah, also the Gogo River was pretty much dried up when I was there. Anyway…
The Giraffe centre provides a wonderful environment to meet and greet these huge, wonderful beings. We appreciate the sanctuary, the eco-conservation and individual efforts to improve it. It’s especially great for kids and school groups even despite having quite a limited area and limited activities. I wonder why they hiked the price though and that dropped my rating a bit.
Have you been here before? How would you rate your experience? Scroll up to the Your Ratings section and select a star.