Is Giraffe Manor worth the cost? How much does it cost to stay at Giraffe Manor?
This is what I spent weeks googling when I was planning my trip to Kenya, because I’m sure we’ve all seen this photo that went viral a couple of years ago..
From the moment I saw this photo, I added ‘having breakfast with giraffes’ to my bucket list. Honestly, how can you not?
I read countless posts with beautiful images all justifying the cost because nothing compares to the experience of staying at the manor and having so much time with the giraffes. As it was the trip of the lifetime, I decided that I was just going to go for it and worry about the money later (great travel advice, I know!)
Really excited, I grabbed my credit card and laptop all ready to book and within minutes, I was slumped on the sofa, deflated. A quick search on their website told me that they were fully booked on all the dates we had available! Talk about sod’s law!
I frantically searched for the property on Expedia, booking.com and all sorts of random websites I’d never heard of. At the same time, I’d emailed their press office to find out whether I could wrangle some type of discount as a blogger. Nothing worked – they were simply just sold out. It turns out you need to book 6-12 months in advance as it’s so popular. I mean, it is only a 12-room boutique hotel, not quite the Bellagio in Vegas that quite literally has thousands of rooms. What did I expect?
Fast forward to when we arrived in Kenya.. our itinerary was packed. The first place on our list was The Giraffe Centre, which is conveniently located right next door to Giraffe Manor. Not really a coincidence as the hotel is actually situated on the private land that the centre own.
What is The Giraffe Centre?
The Giraffe Centre is a sanctuary for endangered Rothschild giraffes; one of the rarest species of giraffes in existence. You can identify them by their ‘white socks’, enviable eyelashes and their distinct pattern which stops above their knees. While they are the world’s tallest mammals, Rothschild giraffes are much smaller than Maasai giraffes; another species found in Kenya; at Maasai Mara, as their name suggests.
Our trip to The Giraffe Centre was my absolute favourite thing to do in Nairobi and I loved it so much that we ended up going back a second time! We first arrived just after 9am when the sanctuary had just opened – this is the best time to visit.
The grounds are huge for the giraffes to roam around, however we were told that they usually gather by the hotel (Giraffe Manor) between 7 and 9am for breakfast. This is before the centre is open, and when the hotel guests go down for breakfast, so they know they’ll be fed there.
Once breakfast is over, they either head towards the centre or wander around the grounds. As you enter The Giraffe Centre, they give you a small paper bag each with grass pellets in, to feed the giraffes. There are also staff dotted around with big bowls of pellets, which they shake to get the attention of the giraffes.
When we arrived early in the morning, it was just the two of us and another 3 or 4 people at the centre, which was perfect. This also meant that only three out of the 14 giraffes were nearby, but that wasn’t a problem.
The staff encouraged them to come over and they kindly obliged. It was absolute perfection!
The lady stayed with us, teaching us how to feed them a pellet at a time, and when our pellets ran out, she gave us handfuls more. Once I was comfortable with feeding them and feeling their long slimy tongues on my hand, I decided to ‘kiss a giraffe’; something they encourage at the centre.
With Jass, the lady and the other random couple all egging me on, I put a pellet between my lips and leaned forward for a wet, slobbery kiss. Stacey, the giraffe I kissed, licked my entire face from my chin up to my eyebrow, and I’ll be honest, it was kinda gross. Oh so slimy!
We had to cut our first visit short to get to the Elephant sanctuary, our next destination, on time. However, we were determined to come back in the afternoon, and so we did.
Our second visit was a completely different experience. We arrived just after lunch at around 1pm and the centre was heaving. There’s an area on the ground to feed the giraffes, as well as an elevated platform that you can climb the stairs to get to.
However, everywhere we looked, there were crowds of tourists all pushing one another out of the way to feed the giraffes and take their photos. On the plus side, most of the giraffes had come closer to the centre, all waiting to be fed, so that was nice to see. The staff were no longer walking around with bowls of pellets, or giving out extras as there were too many people there feeding the giraffes so they didn’t need any coaxing.
Overall it wasn’t a pleasant experience the second time round, and we were so grateful that we’d visited earlier. It’s also a lot warmer in the afternoons too, so the sun was beating down hard on us! The morning visit was cooler, more relaxed and we got to take some great photos but also just live in the moment too.
Do I regret not staying at Giraffe Manor?
While many people say that Giraffe Manor is worth the cost, I also hear that breakfast can be a nightmare. You have to remember that every single person has forked out at least £600 each per night for the perfect photo. Especially at breakfast, allegedly the main (possibly only) time when the giraffes are around. Tables by the windows are limited, and of course, you can’t control if and when a giraffe pokes it’s head through the window. So that means twenty-odd people are running around with cameras; posing, taking photos and (hopefully) trying to not get in each other’s ways.
Yes, you might be able to replicate that shot that went viral, though I highly doubt it. I’m 99.9% certain they probably had the dining room to themselves, professional photographers, lighting and all the time in the world to get the giraffes to co-operate while they pretend to drink cold coffee that’s most likely been sat there for 3 hours or so!
So of course, in my opinion, Giraffe Manor is not worth the cost. I’d rather save my £600 and spend around £15 to visit The Giraffe Centre instead. Not only does all of this money go towards the conservation of the giraffes, I reckon you get to spend longer with them and as the space is much larger, you can get that perfect shot without the other 127 tourists in the background!
If you fall in love with the giraffes like I did (I challenge you not to), you can even visit more than once without breaking the bank. Believe me, it’s so worth it!
‘Having breakfast with giraffes’ is something I didn’t manage to tick off my bucket list, however, I added and ticked off something else instead; kissing a giraffe. Now tell me that isn’t better?!