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An Interview with Steve Carr of Giraffe Manor, Nairobi

We speak to the esteemed Giraffe Manor’s GM Steve Carr about breakfast with the inquisitive resident giraffes and what makes the manor itself so unique.

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In the southwest of Nairobi, this 1930s manor house is situated on 140 acres of pristine sanctuary land in Langata, a leafy suburb that was made famous by the Karen Blixen film Out of Africa. The manor is famously home to 12 endangered Rothschild giraffes; a species that has just 1000 remaining in the wild. “The manor is a sanctuary for this sub-species of giraffe,” the general manager Steve Carr tells us.

“The giraffes’ welfare is now in the hands of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife.”

The sanctuary was established in 1974 by Jock and Betty Melville.  “Betty heard of the plight of the Rothschild giraffe whose loss of habitat in western Kenya had resulted in their number plummeting to only 100 or so animals in the wild,” Carr explains, “Betty and Jock organised the relocation of the giraffes to the sanctuary at the manor, and the giraffes’ welfare is now in the hands of the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife.” An educational centre is located close to the manor for those interested in finding out more. “The giraffes continue to breed,” Carr continues, “Some offspring are released into other sanctuaries while others are brought into the Giraffe Manor Sanctuary to preserve the bloodline.”

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With over 140 acres to roam, the giraffes are still essentially wild, but have become habituated to visiting the manor, especially in time for breakfast. Of course, guests need to be careful when approaching the wild giraffes, but on arrival everyone is given a briefing on how best to interact with the graceful animals.

“The atmosphere can be that of a house party at breakfast as guests share their experience with the giraffes.”

“The interaction between guests and the giraffes is one of the most special aspects of Giraffe Manor,” Carr tells us, “The giraffes approach the manor every day at breakfast and can be found putting their beautiful long necks through the windows of the breakfast room to be fed natural grass pellets by the guests. Every day is special and different and the atmosphere can be that of a house party at breakfast as guests share their experience with the giraffes.” Naturally, both guests and staff form attachments to the individual giraffes.

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While the hotel is best known for the resident giraffes, Carr explains what makes the manor itself so unique. “The Manor in itself is a unique experience being one the few colonial historic buildings in Kenya that can be stayed at,” he says, “Built in 1932, the manor is modelled on a Georgian Scottish hunting lodge, offering its guests all the splendour of this bygone era.”

Giraffe Manor has become known as one of the best places to dine in Kenya for the quality of the food alone, and guests have the opportunity to take part in activities, such as visiting The Davis Sheldrick Elephant Orphan Sanctuary and participating in workshops that support the local community.

On the sanctuary the occasional bush buck can be seen by the waterhole, as well as over 20 indigenous warthog that often join the giraffes on their breakfast visits. The manor is conveniently located for visitors on safari at any of the wildlife parks and reserves in Kenya.