Latest update from Kenya – which is horribly overdue – is about afternoon tea at the incredible Giraffe Manor!
On a fine Friday afternoon, I jumped on the back of a boda (a Kenyan motorbike taxi) with my pal drive Wycleff (coolest man ever) and we zipped over to the outskirts of the Nairobi National Park to spend the afternoon sipping Earl Grey, nibbling elegant cakes and feeding the rare Rothschild giraffes at the majestic Giraffe Manor. It was my birthday, and it couldn’t really have been a more perfect way to celebrate.
Side note: I would always suggest getting a recommendation from a friend who knows a good driver before taking a motorbike taxi. Some boda drivers in Kenya, like motorcyclists the world over, seem to have very little revere for their lives and drive like maniacs. This is not Wycleff: he has a properly fitted helmet for you to wear, services and replaces his bike (which is in excellent condition) every two years, and drives slowly and carefully. What a man. If you can find a good driver, taking a boda is a brilliant way to get around town in what can be a very traffic heavy city.
Anyway, Giraffe Manor. So the manor is one of Nairobi’s most iconic buildings. Built in 1932, it originally served as a family home for David Duncan of the Mackintosh Toffee family and was modelled on a Scottish hunting lodge. The interior is grand and elegant, with a wood panelled dining room, library snug, wide panning staircase leading off in different directions and a long, light breakfast room.
They lived here until Kenya gained independence, and later Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville acquired the property. American conservationists, they were instrumental in creating sanctuaries to preserve the rare Rothschild Giraffe in Kenya.
Daisy Rothschild, the first giraffe rescued and brought to the Manor, was hand-raised by Jock and Betty. It soon became the norm for Daisy to put her head through the windows and doors, looking a small snackette. Since then all the giraffe brought to or born at the Manor have copied this behaviour.
Giraffe Manor is now part of The Safari Collection and the directors are fourth generation Kenyans Tanya and Mikey Carr-Hartley. A private and exclusive property, it has just 10 uniquely decorated bedrooms named after the giraffes.
Afternoon tea was a calm and amusing experience. Did you ever read that children’s book ‘The Tiger That Came To Tea?’ Well, this is that in real life! Yes! Ok it’s not a tiger… but hell, a giraffe is a pretty cool tea companion. We sat back as the giant-necked creature sauntered over to the shaking sound of a snack bucket, their spindly legs scaling the small wall leading up to the lawn and their high heads stooping low in search of food.
As they spied their treat, their long, black tongues crept a mind-bogglingly long way out of their mouths to wrap around the little grass pellets. For those who fancy it (who are these people?) a ‘giraffe kiss’ – aka massive slobbery giraffe tongue licking your face – is on offer. You enjoy that.
Quite the afternoon tea encounter! For the full experience though, a night’s stay followed by breakfast with the Rothschild Giraffes poking their heads in is the way to do it.
A standard room in mid season (01 March 2015 – 3O April 2015, 01 November 2015 – 30 November 2015) costs $525 per person. Rates include: airport transfers, transportation around the Karen & Langata area (within the check-in and check-out times), all meals, house wines, house soft drinks, house beers, house spirits, laundry, wireless internet access, entrance to the AFEW Giraffe Centre and VAT.