Every animal lover dreams of an encounter with the majestic giants of the African savannah, the elephants. Luckily, there is a place that not only allows you to meet these gentle creatures up close but also contributes to their conservation. The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage, located just outside Nairobi, Kenya, is a haven for orphaned elephants and offers visitors an unforgettable experience. In this blog, we will share the expected experience to this incredible sanctuary and give you some tips for planning your visit.
A Noble Mission:
The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating orphaned elephants and, ultimately, reintegrating them back into the wild. Established in 1977 by Dame Daphne Sheldrick in memory of her late husband, David Sheldrick, a renowned naturalist and warden of Tsavo East National Park, the Trust has successfully raised over 260 elephants, giving them a second chance at life in the wild.
The orphanage is located in Nairobi National Park, approximately 45 minutes from Nairobi’s city center. You can reach the sanctuary by taxi, private car, or via our organized day tour. It’s essential to make a booking in advance, as the orphanage has specific visiting hours and limits the number of visitors per day to minimize stress on the animals.
The Orphanage Experience:
During the public visiting hour (11 am to 12 pm), you can watch the baby elephants being fed and playing in the mud, all under the watchful eyes of their keepers. The keepers share heartwarming stories of the orphans’ rescue, their progress in rehabilitation, and the challenges they faced. As a visitor, you’re also allowed to touch and interact with the elephants, an experience that’s truly special and unique.
The Foster Program:
For those who want to contribute to the orphanage’s mission, the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust offers a fostering program. By donating a minimum of $50 per year, you can become a foster parent to one of the elephants. You’ll receive regular updates on your foster elephant’s progress, and if you visit the orphanage, you’ll be granted access to the private evening visiting hours, where you can spend more time with the elephants.
Tips for a Memorable Visit:
- Arrive early: Be sure to arrive early to secure a good spot near the rope barrier, as this will ensure an up-close encounter with the elephants.
- Wear appropriate clothing: Dress comfortably and wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty, as the elephants love to splash in the mud.
- Bring a camera: Capture your special moments with these gentle giants, but make sure to turn off your flash, as it can startle the elephants.
- Listen to the keepers: The knowledgeable keepers have a wealth of information to share about each elephant’s story and the challenges they face in the wild.
- Respect the rules: Follow the orphanage’s guidelines to ensure a safe and stress-free experience for both you and the elephants.
Visiting the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is more than just a unique wildlife encounter; it’s an opportunity to learn about elephant conservation and the threats these magnificent creatures face in the wild. By visiting the orphanage and supporting their cause, you’re playing a part in safeguarding the future of these endangered animals. The experience is sure to leave an indelible mark on your heart and create memories that will last a lifetime.