Last summer, I was experiencing a bad case of the post-I/O blues, when my manager realized that I needed a pick-me-up. Most people burn out after a project like I/O, but I was coming down from a high and feening for more. To cure my ennui, he sent me on a scouting trip to check out our developer outreach in Africa. I spent a few days attending our glUganda event and meeting with startup accelerators in Nairobi and added a day of holiday here and there to break up the monotony. Work hard, play hard, so they say.
Whitewater kayaking in Uganda
With only one day to explore Kampala and its environs, I booked in for a tandem whitewater kayak on the Jinja. I’ve accepted that my whitewater career peaked on the Zambezi, which was partially why I was attracted to the novelty of kayaking through the rapids. The Jinja didn’t disappoint, though there were certainly moments where I wondered how much longer I’d be underwater. There was a moment when torrential rains caught us on the river and we had to take refuge under our life jackets (the rafters bailed and took cover under the rafts), but that just added to the intensity of it all. At the end of the excursion, I met some wide-eyed college students that were headed back to their campsite, and it made me realize that I had gone completely soft; but also relieved to be wrapped in my plush hotel bathrobe, soon to be returning to the marble bathtub at the Kampala Serena.
Booking in at the Giraffe Manor in Nairobi
Back in Nairobi, I was inspired by a friend’s Facebook post I had seen a few weeks back and decided to splurge on a one-night stay at the Giraffe Manor. I had some FOMO about skipping out on the wildebeest migration, but figured that it wouldn’t have made sense to experience it alone. If you’re coming all this way and if you’re only planning on spending one night here ever, make sure to reserve the Jock room, which gives you front-row seats to the giraffe action.
On arrival in the afternoon, your best bet for encountering the resident giraffes is across the way at the Manor’s Giraffe Center, which is free for guests, but just $11 for visitors. The warthogs were around all day though and I found them equally entertaining!
Inevitably I was the youngest and most ethnically diverse person there, so most naturally, I felt out of place, as I always do in these situations. Nonetheless, I was content to enjoy my visit to the fullest and spent the day flitting about from room-to-room with my Kindle–it was important that my ass touched every chaise, chair, and couch it encountered, as if increasing my utilization of the furniture would decrease the costs of the stay.
Your every whim is catered to at the Giraffe Manor, including three meals a day and any cravings you might have in between. Determined to partake in every activity at my disposal, I obligingly took a shopping tour (I never shop on vacation) to the nearby artisan markets.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust & Elephant Orphanage
But as novel as the giraffes were, the baby elephants were the ones that melted my heart. Daily tours are given at the Elephant Orphanage, which oversee the rescue, socialization, and release of the orphaned elephants back into the wild. The elephants are paraded out once a day for feeding and sleep next door to their keepers’…because it’s traumatic enough to lose your mother/caretaker the first time around. The youngest elephant trailed behind her keeper, always reaching for his hand with her trunk.
The next morning, I sat down to the highlight of any stay at the Manor: breakfast with the giraffes. Or if you’re up early like me, the opportunity to enjoy them all to yourself from the privacy of your room.
How to set a giraffe trap from the comfort of your bedroom window
- Spot giraffes in the wooded distance and make direct eye contact
- Lure them to your bedroom window with dessert. Molasses, corn and hay pellets welcome!
- Keep calm and carry on