Kenya is a magical place for inspiring adventures.
A land with around fifty national parks and reserves, beautiful landscapes, mountains to climb, the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean to swim in, deserts to explore by Jeep and the Big Five to experience in the original home of safari.
There are few destinations where you can experience spectacular safaris, dense forests, tranquil beaches and rich local culture in one holiday.
From horse riding in the Chyulu Hills, exploring the remote Rift Valley by helicopter, witnessing the majestic wilderness migration on the Masai Mara plains through to the sun-soaked, white sand and coconut tree-shaded beaches of Mombasa, Kenya is the epitome of an African escapade.
When putting options together, I highly recommend the wonderful Giraffe Manor is placed towards the very top of your list of things to do, for a truly fantastic and unique way to compliment your adventure.
It is located at the edge of Nairobi National Park and can be reached in less than an hour from Nairobi airport, slotting in easily to either the beginning or end of your journey.
The Manor building was originally constructed in 1932 and was modelled on a Scottish hunting lodge. The impressive structure is built in a colonial style, featuring a red-tiled roof with chimney and climbing ivy. It is situated within 12 acres of private land which is itself, within 140 acres of indigenous forest in the Langata suburb.
It became home to Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville in the 1970s where they adopted an orphaned Rothschild’s giraffe called Daisy. It was renamed Giraffe Manor in 1974 and the now resident tower of giraffes wander the lawns of the expansive grounds during the day, retreating to the sanctuary at night.
Rothschild’s giraffes were named after the London zoologist, Lionel Walter Rothschild, who first described the subspecies in the early 1900s and are today one of the most endangered species of giraffe.
As of 2016, there were less than 1,700 left in the wild, with approximately 40% living in Kenya and the remaining 60% in Uganda.
Mealtimes are very much a favourite of the giraffes who have learned that if they poke their necks through the hotel's windows when the guests are dining, there may well be a treat or two for them to be had. What an amazing experience to be sharing a dining table with one of the most beautiful, majestic creatures on this planet.
Afternoon tea is served daily and is a further opportunity to watch the giraffes as the warm sun starts to go down. This affords magnificent photo opportunities and it’s easy to understand why Giraffe Manor is often referred to as one of the worlds’ most Instagrammable hotels.
An adult giraffe eats approximately 75 pounds of food every day. They can grow to between 16 and 19 feet and weigh from 1,800 to 2,500 pounds as adults.
Their inquisitive tongues can grow up to 20 inches long but don’t worry... your pancakes will be safe - it’s the dried grass pellets they are hankering after!
Giraffe Manor is not just about the appetites of these even-toed ungulates. Another truly unique experience here is to enjoy a romantic candlelit dinner in the orchid house, a hidden corner of the manor, where you can also read, sketch, meditate or paint.
There is a relaxing spa available to soothe away any remaining stresses or aches. Using premium organic products, the treatments here have been inspired by healing rituals used locally for many years.
This historic, intimate hotel has just 12 rooms, all of which have been lovingly restored to retain the quaint character of its magnificent past.
As the rooms are uniquely furnished, each with their own charm and individuality, I will be able to specify in which of them you will be staying at the time of booking. I do strongly suggest booking Giraffe Manor as early as possible as it is always in high demand.
Another of my tips as part of a Kenyan expedition and that captures some of the country’s highlights is the seven-day cheetah safari, courtesy of my long-term associates at specialists Somak.
The adventure starts in the picturesque Aberdares Range, staying in a delightful property on the slopes of Mwega Hill.
Samburu is the home to some of Kenya’s most unique wildlife and birds. Around Lake Nakuru, a game reserve has been created where the endangered black rhino is protected and can be seen along with antelope, lions and hyenas.
You will have the opportunity to spot cheetahs and other spectacular big cats and wildlife from the unrivalled position of a luxury camp in the infamous Masai Mara which is also close to the action during the annual wildebeest migration.
Offering the ultimate combination of excitement and relaxation, of rugged savannah and tropical beaches, Kenya is an outstanding consideration for a classic African holiday finished off with a post-safari sojourn on its Indian ocean coastline or even the Seychelles or Zanzibar.