On the east coast of Africa, Kenya straddles the equator and shares a border with Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Tanzania. It is lapped by the Indian Ocean and shares the waters of Lake Victoria with its neighbours. The Rift Valley and Central Highlands form the backbone of the country, giving it spectacular scenery. Its vast, arid northern region is Kenya at its wildest and most untouched by the modern world.
Kenya has some of the world's most fascinating and diverse flora and fauna. Vast plains in the south are dotted with flat-topped acacia trees, thorn bushes and bottle-shaped baobab trees. The slopes of Mt Elgon and Mt Kenya have bamboo forests and higher up, the unusual groundsel tree which has huge cabbage-like flowers and giant lobelias with long spikes.
Wildlife parks are home to lion, buffalo, elephant, leopard, rhino, hippo, zebra, giraffe, baboon, ostrich, wildebeest, cheetah, hyena and a lather of colourful birdlife.
Just 12km from the centre of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, is the Giraffe Manor, a remarkable place built in 1932 by Sir David Duncan. It is surrounded by 60ha of its own park and forest and has superb views of the Ngong Hills.
In 1974, Jock Leslie-Melville, grandson of a Scots earl, and his American wife Betty, who also founded the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife, bought the beautiful vine-covered manor. They then moved two highly endangered baby Rothschild giraffes to the estate, where they thrived and have produced several further generations of giraffe.
When Jock died, Betty decided to open her house, now called the Giraffe Manor, to visitors. It is the only place in the world where you can feed and photograph the giraffe over your breakfast table and at the front door and even from a bedroom window.
Travellers from all over the world now make the Giraffe Manor part of their east African safari. Personally hosted, the Giraffe Manor is an elegant and exclusive small hotel with a rich blend of welcoming accommodation, highly trained staff and one of Nairobi's finest kitchens.
The Giraffe Manor has untouched wilderness on the doorstep of one of Africa's most cosmopolitan cities and the adjoining Jock Leslie-Melville Nature Education Centre, better known as the Giraffe Centre. Guided walks through its primeval forest enable you to learn about traditional uses of the varied flora, view some of the 180 bird species and perhaps meet a warthog or bushbuck.
There are four double rooms with bath and a double room with shower. One room is furnished with Karen Blixen's furniture. The inspiration for Out of Africa, she gave her belongings to Jock's mother when she left Kenya.
The African country of Kenya.
The Giraffe Manor accommodation starts at around $830 a night, twin share. All meals, tea, wine and cocktails, transfers and taxes are included. Chauffeur driven sightseeing tours are available.
Kumuka Worldwide has 13-day Rift Valley wildlife tours through Kenya and Tanzania starting at $1500 per person. All activities, sightseeing, meals, entry fees and taxes are included.
South African Airways has return flights to Nairobi valid for sale and travel until November 30, 2006.
- Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, $3,196
- Perth, $2,956
For further information
The Giraffe Manor
Post Office Box 15004,
Nairobi 00509 Kenya
Ph: +254 20 891 078
Fax: +254 20 890 949
4/46-48 York Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph: 1300 667 277; (02) 9279 0491
Fax: (02) 9279 0492
Please note that the prices listed are valid at the time of filming.