Our day began when my companions and I were picked by our host the Kenya Tourism Board to visit popular tourist sites in Nairobi, Kenya. Our base as hosted International media group was at the Ole Sereni hotel.
Ole Sereni is a gallantly juxtaposed. To the front is Mombasa Road, which means it is ever busy. In the back of the hotel is Kenya’s first National Park and just 7kms from the centre of Nairobi making it the only hotel of its kind in the World.
It is an excellent base from which to view varied wildlife species. Each morning from my room, number 340, I could see from afar, zebra, impala, grant gazelle, and hartebeest wandering or grazing. The restaurant area which is roundly modest, is good for wilderness sighting during meals.
From Ole Sereni, we drove away in the misty morning to Karen nearly five kilometres away, to find our first destination, the Giraffe Centre. Here we experienced one of Kenya’s famous wildlife at close-range.
This was my first time to visit the site. Though I have heard about it for years, the opportunity had not come yet until recently. The Giraffe Centre gives an up-close and personal interaction where visitors have the opportunity to view and feed the giraffes.
On arrival and after our host had gained the entry documents, we were led to see one of the giraffes which had already attracted other visitors.
The ongoing interaction which we found between the giraffe and the visitors involved lip feeding from visitors who were standing on the raised wooden platform. I could see how the giraffe used its long prehensile tongue to feed on pellets.
The experience here, visitors are given a handful of pellets from a bucket to feed the Giraffe in the usual way and close up, said Koriana Shirley, Program Officer at the Centre.
I have seen giraffes in many game parks in Africa but never had a chance to get that close and this experience was exclusive and awesome! The Giraffe Centre is also a conservation and education facility which holds 10 giraffes at present. There are also opportunities to learn about Wildlife Protection as well as environmental projects such as tree nursery and waste management, among others.
Next, we visited the Elephant Orphanage Centre to see how the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust located on the south-western end of the Nairobi National Park, to see in its rescue work of the orphans from the wild.
After our host had cleared the entry formalities, we walked past a few vehicles and the gift shop, through a narrow path until finally, a large crowd of visitors unfolded before us.
Every day between 11 am and noon, visitors are welcomed and treated to a rare show as the guides from the orphanage centre lead the young elephants in the public feeding area.
Upon first sighting the elephants, a sea of cheers sprang from the crowd as everyone lifted their cameras in anticipation.
In the middle of the open savanna, we watched as a guide standing near a rescued baby elephant, was giving an insight into the elephant project.
Heart-rending stories of how orphans got into the orphanage were told. Many of the young animals were rescued after their mothers and other family members were killed by poachers. Others were in danger of being killed by predators.
The project started in 1977 as a way to rescue orphaned elephants and rhinos. More than 200 elephants have been rescued and released into the wilderness.
The orphanage has since incorporated modern methods of keeping the elephants alive as shown by the frenzy created whenever the babies come to feed.
Eventually, all too soon the baby elephant did have to leave. The guide said it has a limited time to socialise with visitors so as not to develop a long-lasting attachment as this may affect its release into the wild.