Travel and Photography Blog
Situated in Karen, merely 16 kilometers from Nairobi’s Central Business District, you will find an animal lovers’ paradise: the Giraffe Centre. The project was created in 1979 to protect the endangered Rothschild’s giraffe subspecies and to promote its conservation through education. This place turned out to be one of our favorite attractions in Nairobi, not just because we got the opportunity of getting as close as possible to some giraffes, but also because we kissed many of them, seriously!
The center’s facilities are very well maintained and consist of a raised feeding platform (a tall one for tall giraffes!), where visitors can come face to face with the giraffes; a small auditorium, where talks about the efforts of conservation are held; a gift shop and a simple café. Don’t forget to visit the nature sanctuary located right across from the road, which is included with the Giraffe Centre entrance fee.
What to do
After arriving at the center and paying your entrance fee (1,000 shillings – July 2014), you can listen to a short and interesting talk about the giraffes of Kenya and the endangered Rothschild. Then, you can ask the nice staff members to give you some giraffe food (pellets) so you can feed them. The pellets consist of dietary supplements, as the giraffes eat mainly tree leaves. It is important to give them one piece at a time, as it is more fun, and you will avoid being bitten. If you dare, you can place one of the pieces between your lips and get close to the giraffe so it gives you a lovely wet kiss! After taking many pictures with these beautiful animals, you can also take a look at the warthogs (pumba) and tortoises, buy something at the souvenir shop or grab a snack at the café. Before leaving back to Nairobi, remember to enjoy a nice walk in the nature sanctuary across the centre. There, you will see some local flora, birds and nice walking trails where you can spend as much time as you like.
How to get there
My husband and I used public transportation, as always, and it was pretty easy. From downtown Nairobi you need to take bus number 24, which departs from the parking lot at the KENCOM House building, which is facing the Hilton Hotel (coordinates: -1.286172,36.825804). The bus has a sign with its number and is parked along Moi Avenue. Remember to ask before getting on if the bus goes to “Karen – Hardy”, and kindly ask the tout (the man that passes by your seat and charges the tariff) to tell you when you need to get off for the Giraffe Centre. The bus costs only 50 shillings (the rate depends on the hour and traffic, weird, huh?) and will leave you on the road that leads to the center, next to the Hardy Shopping Center (coordinates: -1.364697,36.743483). From there you need to walk for 1.5 kilometers (about 15 minutes) following the signs or, if you prefer, you can take a piki piki (motorcycle) for a few shillings. For the way back, you need to walk back to the same road and take a bus to downtown Nairobi.
The staff at the center always says that giraffes have one rule: “no food, no friendship”. This is completely true! Always have food on your hand when getting close to the giraffes, if not, they will ignore you or if you turn your back on them, they can even hit you with their massive head and horns! We saw two girls trying to take a “selfie” with the giraffes and they both ended up with a huge headache!
If you want to know more about the Giraffe Centre, you can visit their website at: giraffecenter.org
Written by Stephany
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