Silence was the surprise visitor at the Giraffe Manor one night a decade ago. I arrived at this Scottish Manor around six on Sunday, sticky from the sultry heat of Lamu, so a bubble bath in the black tub upstairs was ideal. Water flowed from the mouth of a black ceramic lion. I first visited this home in 1977, when Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville forged their dream of preserving a surrounding 147 acres from the encroaching subdivision that now marks the land between here and the Ngong Hills. In those days it was daring to walk through the forest between the manor and Hog Ranch, a tented camp photographer Peter Beard?named after local wart hogs.
It is still dangerous for young giraffe that roam here; a four-month old named Sandy appeared with blood streaming down its back legs. It may have been attacked by the leopard seen recently in the Langata neighborhood. These nocturnal cats are not dissuaded by subdivision, to stalk horses, dogs and infants. We are unlikely to encounter leopard on our morning walk to see a few of the 178 species of birds that live in this forest, including the highly vocal Hadada ibis, and the dainty Red-cheeked cordon blu.
The Giraffe Manor is known around the globe for its elegant giraffe-18 foot high adult Rothschild giraffe, the tallest of their kind. No other hotel in Africa offers such an exclusive encounter. This manor has enticed such guests as Marlon Brando, Walter Cronkite, Brook Shields, Johnny Carson and Mick Jagger. At breakfast once can feast on robust Kenya coffee, mango and pungent plain yogurt, and fresh passion fruit juice, which inspired Peter Beard’s “Passionate Screw:” vodka, passion fruit juice and a touch of rum, on ice. But the real buzz at breakfast is when giraffe poke their heads through the windows. There’s a second photo op during tea, served outdoors in front of the manor at 4pm.
But you need not stay overnight at the manor to capture a selfie. The nearby AFEW Giraffe Center has a platform where you can greet and feed these same giraffe, for a modest fee. Read my blog for Africa Geographic about my recent visit to the Giraffe Center. You can combine a visit to the Giraffe Center with a midday encounter with orphan elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, about 20 minutes drive away, on the edge of Nairobi National Park. Let Pulse Africa organize this for you.