The giraffe is the world’s tallest mammal, standing as tall as a two-storey house (6 metres, 19 feet). Once known as ‘camel-leopards’, these giants roam the African savanna in constant search of food, stretching their elegant long necks to reach the highest boughs of the acacia tree. Like cows, giraffes regurgitate their food and chew it as cud. From their elevated position, giraffes can see predators coming literally a mile off and they usually sleep standing up, so they can make a dash if a lion, hyena or wild dog approaches. Despite their delicate appearance, giraffes can run at speeds of up to 56 kilometres an hour (35 miles an hour) and deliver a kick that can kill a lion.
- No two giraffes have the same pattern of spots, although ones from the same area look similar.
- Giraffes have long tongues – 53 centimetres long!
- Giraffes can go weeks without drinking – they get enough water from eating lush acacia leaves.
Time of year: The weather in Nairobi is constant all year round, but try to avoid the rainy seasons in November and March to May.
Where to stay: Giraffe Manor is a luxury boutique hotel built in the 1930s and modelled on a traditional Scottish hunting lodge. Set in 12 acres of private land and only 20 kilometres from Nairobi, it is home to warthogs, bushbuck, dik dik and more than 180 species of bird, but its most famous residents are 12 rare Rothschild giraffes. These characterful animals roam the grounds, peering through guests’ bedroom windows and joining them at dinner; the giraffe’s breeding centre offers a 1.5 kilometre nature trail where guests will come across all kinds of additional wildlife. The Manor also plans trips to the Kenyan National Museum and the Maasai Market. Offering 10 luxury double ensuite bedrooms, the Finch Hatton’s and Karen Blixen suites are suitable for families with direct access to the courtyard.
Price: From $499 per night.