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Kissing and feeding Giraffes at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya

Getting up close and personal with the local residents at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city, is highly encouraged.

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Getting up close and personal with the local residents at the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city, is highly encouraged. And if you are willing to resist the urge to gag on their stinky breath then the African guides even encourage you to give them a big smooch too.

Feeding the Giraffes in Nairobi

Visiting the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, Kenya

Travelling through Africa on my 75 Day tour from Nairobi to Cape Town with Oasis Overland has gotten me alongside some of the most amazing animals in the world. But nothing has so far compared to how close I got when I visited the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi.

Giraffe Centre Sanctuary in Nairobi

In 1979 by Jock and Betty Leslie-Melville began raising a baby Rothschild Giraffe in their home. They quickly realised that they needed to do more to protect this highly endangered species of Giraffe, of which there were only 120 Giraffes in the world at the time.

With their efforts in establishing the Giraffe Centre in Nairobi, along with other conservationists, there are now over 300 Rothschild Giraffes roaming throughout several of the African Game Parks including Lake Nakuru National Park, Mwea National Park and Ruma National Park.

Giraffe Centre in Nairobi

The Giraffe Centre in Nairobi combines conservation, education as well as a very hands-on experience for visitors. Not only can you observe the Giraffes in their natural habitat (we spotted two Giraffes fighting with their swinging necks and horns) but you can also get up close and personal.

From a raised wooden platform you can observe, hand-feed and pat the Giraffes.

Giraffe Sanctuary in Kenya

Staring into a 4m high Giraffes eyes is a beautiful thing.

Getting covered in juicy Giraffe saliva as they use their gigantic tongues to lick tasty treats from your mouth is another experience altogether.

Cole feeding the Giraffes in Nairobi

Down at ground level the Giraffes stretch their flexible necks across the barriers to wrap their tongues around your fingers to pull the small snacks from outstretched fingers.

Giraffe Sanctuary feeding in Nairobi, KenyaHand feeding Giraffes in Nairobi

While I do prefer seeing them in the wild, watching, feeding, kissing, and interacting with some of the most majestic creatures that walk this earth is a memory that I will hang onto for a long, long, long time.

Cole is one half of New Zealand's leading adventure travel blogging couple who have been wearing out their jandals around the world since 2009. He loves any adventure activities and anything to do with the water whether it is Surfing, Diving, Swimming, Snorkeling or just lounging nearby on the beach. You can follow Cole on Google+. Or consider following us via RSS Feed, Twitter, Facebook and subscribe to our Newsletter.

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21 Comments

21 Comments

  1. Beth

    June 13, 2013 at 1:22 PM

    Amazing! I am super jealous, this sounds like it was an incredible experience.
    I would love to get up close and personal with such a beautiful animal!

  2. Toni

    June 13, 2013 at 7:37 PM

    I missed out on the chance to do this when I was in Kenya and now I’m even more sorry I didn’t do it because it looks like a giggle and you’re helping keep their species going with donations etc. Great photos Cole (though you can’t really go wrong when the subject of your photos looks so gorgeous!) 🙂

  3. ashree

    June 14, 2013 at 4:22 PM

    Super cute! Wonder how we could do the same thing here in Indonesia. Good post!

    Regards.
    http://www.jakpost.travel/

  4. Charli | Wanderlusters

    June 16, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    I’m so jealous, I’ve had a thing for giraffes since I was a little girl. I was bullied at school for being much taller than my class mates and one day my mum said to me that they were just jealous because I was unique just like a giraffe. The addition of a stuffed giraffe may heav sealed the deal re my love for these animals. Your account of your journey has got me so excited to visit Africa.

  5. Kristy of Family Visa

    June 18, 2013 at 5:35 AM

    Wow, I also don’t mind if I will get stinks if the giraffe will lick the food on my hand just to grab it. Haha.

  6. Preston McGee

    June 21, 2013 at 3:30 AM

    Giraffe is one of the endangered species today and it is good to know that there is a country that save and care for their welfare. I hope to see this animal in person soon.

  7. Lucy

    June 21, 2013 at 7:08 PM

    Wow that giraffe has one hell of a tongue! Loving the wildlife posts, very inspiring to see such good conservation work going on.

  8. Katie D.

    June 21, 2013 at 7:49 PM

    So beautiful! I love the shots were you can see those gorgeous eyelashes. And- who knew?- their tongues are black! Getting giraffe kisses is definitely on my travel bucket list now.

  9. Arti

    June 22, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    That must be such a wonderful experience, to feed them with your own hands! Beautiful photos, I felt like I was standing besides you whilst you were busy feeding them 🙂

  10. Tina

    June 24, 2013 at 5:47 AM

    That was amazing experienced.. Giraffes and Zebra’s are two animals that I love to meet someday…

  11. Alex

    June 25, 2013 at 5:11 PM

    Amazing pictures of this beautiful, docile and huge animal. Never saw the photos of Giraffe this close, never expected the tongue to be so long.

  12. Salika Jay

    June 27, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    The first picture of the giraffe is so cute. They’re such innocent animals. Nice photos!

  13. TryTheWorld

    June 27, 2013 at 9:17 PM

    Wow! Definitely looks like an awesome experience. Must have been really awesome. This is not something that people get to do everyday!

  14. Christine (Food Wine Travel)

    July 2, 2013 at 1:59 AM

    What an amazing photo of the giraffe’s tongue, Cole!

  15. Amanda

    July 3, 2013 at 4:21 AM

    Mmmm slobbery giraffe kisses! 😉

    Looks like lots of fun, as well as a cool learning experience.

  16. Ismail N

    July 10, 2013 at 6:04 AM

    What a wonderful post to remind us about the giraffes and their fragility. The first photo is an awesome shot of a giraffe! Thanks for sharing. 😀

  17. Ariana

    August 1, 2013 at 3:57 AM

    I can feel the love and excitement of these gigantic creatures when people are feeding them. Thanks for sharing this post, definitely a great help opening awareness of this wonderful creatures.

    • Cole Burmester

      August 1, 2013 at 4:33 AM

      So cool being up this close and personal with them. Just wish their breaths didn’t stink so much haha.

      • Ariana

        August 1, 2013 at 6:24 AM

        Hahaha this gorgeous creatures makes me want to explore the world. I wanted to have memories with them too. By the way you got me in these words…”the most majestic creatures that walk this earth is a memory that I will hang onto for a long, long, long time.” It really hit me.

        • Cole Burmester

          August 3, 2013 at 3:01 AM

          Hope you get to kiss the giraffes in Nairobi soon then 🙂

          • Ariana

            August 5, 2013 at 2:22 AM

            Yep, i would love that…

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Adventure Travel

Review: 10 Day Egypt Explorer Tour with Expat Explore

A comprehensive review of Expat Explores 10 Day Explorer Tour through the stunning country of Egypt.

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Expat Explore Group in Egypt

We have been wanting to visit Egypt for a while now so when the opportunity to get away over the Christmas and New Year period arose we knew we needed to head there for a break. We joined Expat Explore on their 10 Day Explorer Tour through Egypt taking in the sights of Cairo, Aswan, Luxor and Hurghada.

Expat Explore Group Photo

The reason we chose Expat Explore was that they were the cheapest in price with all the same sights and in the end we were happy with our choice.

Pre-departure they emailed us our itinerary with the optional excursions and additional costs for entry fees included so that we could budget properly. As well as following up with our pre-trip questions regarding flights, insurance and uhealth and safety advice.

From the start they were very professional. Landing in Cairo we were personally greeted the day before our tour and transported to our City centre hotel. That drive was an eye-opener to Egypt with crazy lane changes, honking, swerving, flashing lights with animals, people and vehicles everywhere.

El Tonsy Hotel is your base for your arrival and last night. Luckily we didn’t expect much as our door didn’t lock which was a bit dodgy and the rooms were freezing cold with a broken heater and only one blanket. You wouldn’t think you would need heat in Egypt but it was the middle of winter and it was chilly at night. No complaints with the location though as we could see the Pyramids in the distance and were only 5 minutes walk from the Nile and 15 minutes to Tahir Square (perfectly safe by the way). Plus they have a little bar/restaurant with cheap food and free Wi-Fi. Just buy your snacks and water from the supermarket across the road and you will get on fine.

El Tonsy Hotel View of Pyramids

It’s quite hard to break down a whole trip into one post but here goes:

Day One

Your tour starts with the best in my opinion by touring some sights of Cairo. The steeply angled Step Pyramid, mind-blowing Pyramids of Giza and the smaller than expected Sphinx. This day was definitely the highlight.

That night is spent aboard the train for 10-12 hours to Aswan. I highly recommend the Sleeper train for an extra £50 per person. Others that caught the standard train froze their butts off while we had a toasty sleep with a served dinner and breakfast. Unfortunately Expat Explore never told us about the provided food so we ate before we got on-board but what we could fit in was delicious.

Day Two

The tour splits in Aswan as one group embarks on a River Cruise aboard a 5 star ship while the others spend time in hotels and on a Felucca. No surprise that we went with the cheaper option aboard the Felucca so the next few days are from that point of view.

The afternoon is yours at Sara Hotel on the banks above the Nile. We lapped up the beautiful rays of the sun and managed to turn our pasty white bodies a more fitting slightly white shade. The Hotel was great until the toilet next-door erupted sending a river of smelly waste across our bedroom floor (throw your toilet paper in the bin not the loo)! Luckily we woke in time to rescue our bags from the watery mess! Not the fault of Expat Explore and we didn’t blame the Hotel either as shit happens.

Day Three

Your day begins by visiting the monstrous High Dam for 10 minutes (fairly boring) and a drive past the Unfinished Obelisk. While the highlight is definitely the Philae Temple. When the sunsets across the Nile reflecting off the stonework it really is quite magical.

Philae Temple Sunset

The evening ended with an optional dinner in a traditional Nubian families house. The food was scrumptious and you better bring your singing and dancing shoes.

Day Four

The following day and night is spent relaxing aboard the Felucca for a sail up the Nile for several hours. Sleeping no more than 8 people you will be snug if you bring your own sleeping bag like us. The rest of our crew were jealous as it did get quite chilly in the evening however blankets were provided.

With delicious pita bread and falafel cooked on the boat you will not be disappointed with the food either.

The day ends with a bonfire on the Nile shoreline as you sing and dance with the crazy fun Nubian crews. This was definitely one of the highlights of the entire trip for us.

Travel Tip: Don’t be put off by doing your “business” amongst the reeds of the Nile. Just enjoy the view and remember to bring your own toilet paper (which you need everywhere in Egypt anyway).

Felucca on the Nile

By all accounts, from the other tour members, the River Cruise is just as great with 3 nights on-board in comfortable accommodation, a pool and  buffets morning, noon and night.

Day Five

Waking to a sunrise breaking the morning chill is a glorious way to start a new day. Unfortunately there is little time for relaxation before you are off the Felucca and on a bus to Kom Ombu and Edfu Temples. I must say, all of the transportation was more than adequate with toilets on the buses and room enough for everyone. It’s lucky because you do spend the majority of the time being driven around.

The Lotus Hotel in Luxor was probably the pick of them all. Situated on the Nile bank with a swimming pool and tasty buffet breakfast.

Day Six

One more day, one more busy schedule. Rushing to beat the crowds at the Valley of the Kings it’s another 8am start. You are only allowed to visit three tombs and we recommend the guides picks which were Ramses II, IV and IX.

Travel Tip: You are NOT allowed to take your camera with you off the bus. Please don’t ruin it for everyone by taking photos as you will be charged by security when caught.

We also squeezed in the crowded rock carved Hatshepsut Temple but only drove past Luxor Temple as we ran out of time as you need to drive 6 hours to reach Hurghada that night.

Day Seven and Eight

The next two days at the Red Sea are yours to do whatever you like so use them wisely. We joined most of our group for a spot of snorkelling and diving. The dive and the staff were great but the whole day seemed a little rushed which was a shame. Keep an eye out for our post on our diving experience in Hurghada.

Diving in Hurghada on the Red Sea

So nice being able to relax on a beach and read a book after such a hectic schedule. It’s hard to leave and the 6 – 8 hour bus ride back to Cairo is tough.

Travel Tip: If you plan to do the tour over New Years Eve then you will have to depart Hurghada half a day early which sucked as it meant celebrating the New Year at the Hotel in Cairo. Bit of a let down but when hasn’t New Years Eve been!

Day Nine

Your final day of sightseeing is spent around Cairo. Our favourite part of the day was definitely the Cairo Museum with an excellent tour guide. It fits perfectly at the end by seeing all the history close-up after having learned about it over the last 8 days.

By the time we hit the old area of Cairo and the Coptic Hanging Church we were spent on history but our guide made a good effort at keeping us entertained.

The last group activity is free time for an hour or so at the Khan El Khalili souk markets where the touts try to prise your cash from you for the last time from every nook and cranny.

Day Ten

With the tour over it’s time to head home. Our flight was late the following night so we walked around the city and Souks on our own for the day. Expat Explore provides transport back to the airport which was great.

The Negatives

The trip was awesome but we think it’s important to note the little things that could make a huge difference to the overall experience:

  • It felt like we were always hungry. Maybe it is just Kiwi’s and Aussies that eat all the time but it seriously felt like we were constantly starving with lunches being served usually after 4pm and dinner at 9pm onwards. It might be the Egyptian way to eat at those times but not for us. Travel Tip: Buy lots of snacks for the road which are very cheap at supermarkets.
  • There was sometimes a lack of direction in what seemed to be happening. Everything is done on Egyptian time so be patient.
  • We were often delayed or behind schedule with little to no guidance as to how long it would take to get from place to place. A little knowledge goes a long was as then we can plan ahead.
  • More free time would be great to explore places on your own rather than have our hands held everywhere.

The Positives:

As we said above, the trip was amazing and the little positive things far outweighed the negatives which helped make it a memorable trip.

  • Pre-departure information and care was extremely good.
  • The tour was exceptional value for money and it was the cheapest tour we could find even though we still saw all the same sights the other groups did.
  • The guides were extremely knowledgeable and never failed to answer any questions we had. The insights into the daily lives of the people around us was a nice break from all the history. They also ensured you never felt unsafe or uncomfortable.
  • The Felucca trip was better than expected and overall so was the accommodation and transport options.

All in all we highly recommend you book with Expat Explore if you are considering a trip through Egypt.

Make sure you subscribe now and come back soon so you can enjoy reading our new posts which will cover everything else in more detail.

Disclaimer: Expat Explore provided us with a discount for our 10 day tour of Egypt however as always our thoughts are always our own.

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Africa

Let’s Go Visit The Home of Ramses, Egypt

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When is the last time you’ve heard about Egypt? It was probably the Arab Spring was taking place, and it went through a change of government. Well, things are much more stable now and everything has returned back to normal, the people of Egypt are essentially back to business.

Since everything is calm again and since there is relative peace within the general region itself, a trip to the scene would certainly be in order. If you’ve been waiting a while to go to someplace exotic and want to experience different cultures and sights, well Egypt tour packages are definitely in order.

It is one of the most ancient civilizations, it has a lot of history, a varied type of people’s and many things to do.

You must take a trip out to Egypt today, it will be worth your while and the while of those that you are traveling with as well, whether it be your family members or your friends and acquaintances.

Let’s find out what there is to do in the great land of Egypt.

Cairo

Make it a point to visit Cairo, this city is the capital of Egypt and is quite a bustling town as well. You might be able to run into the egyptian equivalent of food trucks and try a staple of the Egyptian diet, ful. This food is their equivalent of fast food except this one is actually healthy for you.

That’s right, you will be able to be able to gain nutrients and energy by enjoying this dish comprised of fava beans, veggie oil, spices, and some herbs as well.

You will want to take a trip out to Tahrir Square, a place that is as iconic as Times Square in New York except maybe even more iconic due to more prominent events that took place in that space (not just consumerism and branding).

Cairo also has the Egyptian Museum for those who are history buffs and for those that appreciate the things of the past, it is comprised of items and narratives of many experiences from quite a few centuries ago, more than 4000 years of history are encased within that museum. Make sure to take a visit and take some time to really learn and enjoy the museum, don’t take too much time though, there is still a lot more activities left to do!

Cairo is a hub, you can visit the places within and then go visit places that everyone wants to go to, such as Giza and the great pyramids of Egypt.

People are still astounded by the level of work that it would have taken to build the pyramids, especially way back in that timeframe, the intellect, labor and engineering needed to see it through is a testament to the capacity of humans to do what they put their minds to.

Don’t think of the pyramids as something that everyone does, no, its something special, it is meant to be viewed and admired by all.

Cairo Citadel

If you are a fan of war, defense, strategy, and history, you’ll want to visit this Citadel, it’s culture runs way into the past and is a sight to see.

While in Cairo, make sure to check out the Khan-el-Khalili, it’s a place to go shop, but be about your wits, negotiate, and have a great time.

Cairo and Egypt have a lot to offer, make sure to plan accordingly so you are able to immerse yourself in all that it has to give you.

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Africa

Packing and Route Tips for Climbing Kilimanjaro

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East Africa is renowned for boasting many breath-taking attractions, from the beauty of the Serengeti to stunning Tanzania beaches like Kendwa and Nungwi. However, there’s one thing that undoubtedly attracts adventure lovers more than most, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Mounting climbing can be a daunting experience, especially when you’re stood at the foot of Africa’s highest peak. However, there are a series of routes available to anyone who takes on the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro.

Naturally, some routes are more treacherous than others, and are approached from different points, so this article offer some insight what you can expect from each one and what you’ll need to take with you.

The Marangu Route

Departing from the Moshi Hotel and into the Kilimanjaro National Park via the Marangu Gate, this stunning route allows you to experience The Saddle – a high altitude desert which can be found part way up the mountain.

This route is said to be the most straightforward in terms of its physical demands, however it has a notoriously steep incline which climbers must overcome in order to reach the summit.

The Machame Route

This route also passes through the Marangu Gate, and leads through picturesque ice fields as you reach the Shira Plateau.

This route takes a day longer than the Marangu Route to complete, although this can be advantageous to climbers as it allows for better acclimatisation.

The Rongai Route

This route enters the national park via the northern entrance of Rongai Gate, and is considered to be the second easiest route to the summit of Kilimanjaro.

The route begins at a fairly high altitude and involves a relatively gradual incline to the summit.

The Lemosha Route

Entering via the Londorossi Park Gate, the Lemosha Route is the toughest and most remote route to the summit of Kilimanjaro, and crosses the Shira Plateau where its paths meet the Machame Route.

Despite its challenges, the route has a high success rate, and involves spending a couple of nights at various altitudes.

What to pack?

Packing for a mountain climb in Africa can often be a difficult thing to get right. Pack too lightly and you run the risk of running out of essentials – but pack too much and you’ll end up wasting your energy lugging around stuff you don’t need.

Your clothing should include the following items for travel:

  • Sunglasses (polarized)
  • Gloves (thick waterproof for trekking + thick pair for evenings)
  • Balaclava
  • Shorts
  • Pants (for hiking and relaxing in the evenings)
  • Short-sleeved and long-sleeved shirts or t-shirts (for hiking and relaxing in evenings)
  • Underwear (sports bras for ladies)
  • Thermal underwear
  • Fleece jacket
  • Down jacket or ski parka (for temperatures below freezing plus wind-chill)
  • Rain jacket + pants (for the humid rainforest and cold snow)
  • Travel towel
  • Swimwear (for first and last day swimming – can be left at your hotel during your trek)
  • Ski or trekking poles
  • Headlamp or flashlight
  • Hiking boots
  • Gaiters
  • Socks – hiking socks + wool socks

Other essential kit includes:

  • Water bottles and Camelback (2-3)
  • Sleeping bag (rated -25 degrees)
  • Get 3 litres of bottled water before the trip (available at your Moshi Hotel)
  • Camera + tripod
  • Video camera + tapes
  • Batteries
  • Notebook + pencil / pen
  • Pocket knife
  • Energy bars
  • Alarm clock
  • Sewing kit

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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