I was in Soho last week, visiting a gallery Staley & Wise to view the works of British photographer Nick Brandt. His black and white wildlife photography from visits to East Africa are simply breathtaking…all taken close up (no telephoto lens!). Brandt’s latest works are, in his own words, an “elegy to a world that is steadily, tragically vanishing”. If you are in New York, take the opportunity to see his work on exhibition at the gallery through October 17th – limited editions are for sale.
One photograph in particular (above) caught my eye of these beautiful long-legged creatures taken on the savannah. It made me recall several clippings I have saved of a special place that I yearn to visit when I do get the chance to travel to Kenya: Giraffe Manor.
If you are planning or even just thinking about taking a safari sometime in East Africa, this is a worthwhile and unique place to stop first before your safari, only 20 minutes drive outside of the city of Nairobi.
Built in the manor of a Scottish hunting lodge (it was indeed built by a Scottish family) with views of Mt. Kilamanjaro, Giraffe Manor is an elegant 6-guestroom (it books up quickly so reserve far in advance) manor that just happens to have as its residents…you guessed it, giraffes.
Currently, on the 150 acres are a dozen of them (of 500 Rothschild giraffes in the world – they are endangered) wandering freely on the property (and a resident warthog too, I believe). The hotel was converted from a private home to a hotel in 1984 and just this March 2009 sold to be part of the Tamimi Safari lodge group.
What really makes this place unique, though, is the interaction with the giraffes. Literally, any of the 12 giraffes (with names after notable guests such as Lynn, Barney or Arlene) pop their heads through any of the hotel’s open windows to get a bite of your breakfast or a pat on the head. It’s a wonderful place to take the kids to experience up-close encounters with wildlife while supporting the preservation of these beautiful, endangered creatures.
Inviato Note: If you are an animal lover, as I am, I urge you to visit the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (DSWT), a place that is near and dear to my heart. Also only a few minutes away from Nairobi and The Giraffe Manor, DSWT is home to 25 elephant orphans (and growing, unfortunately too quickly).
The severest drought in Kenya’s history combined with an upsurge in poaching due to the lift on the ban of sale of ivory all add up to a very grim scenario for the country’s elephants. This has resulted in more orphans being rescued than ever.
If you want to visit the trust, it is easily reached by a 20 minute taxi ride form Nairobi city centre – most hotel-based cabs will know how to get there and back without any trouble. Note that the Trust is only open to visitors between 11:00 am and Noon. Demi Moore and Ashton Kutscher were there only last weekend to visit the orphans (for her experience, go to her twitter page).