The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is one place that is treasured by many people. From Nairobi CBD, the journey to this place takes less than one hour.
The orphanage occupies a small area of the Nairobi National Park on Magadi Road. The non-profit trust was founded in 1977 after the death of an anti-poaching warden at the Tsavo National Park.
David Sheldrick and his wife Daphne initiated ways of raising orphaned elephants and rhinos and later reintroducing them to the wild. However, it is important to note that the trust operates on strict timings, so you cannot just drive in at any time.
The orphanage is open to the public everyday for just one hour; from 11am to 12pm. There is an entry fee of Sh500 for persons aged four years and above.
After getting in during a recent visit, I and a bunch of other visitors were ushered into a viewing area at the centre of a waterhole. A few minutes later, a number of animal handlers accompanied a few elephant calves, into the feeding area. It was amazing to witness the handlers bottle-feed the young elephants.
After the feeding session, the young ones seemed excited and it was at that point that we were adviced not to be scared if they started rubbing against our legs.
The interaction presents just the perfect moment to get an up-close and candid experience with the elephants, as you grab a picture or two for the gram and memories.
The experience is nothing less than heart warming. After the feed, the mammals are offered time to enjoy their daily routine of mud bath. Some precaution is needed here, as the animals are synonymous with spraying their guests with mud, thanks to their aggressive trunks.
While they are at it, the keepers talk about individual orphans and their stories. An amazing revelation by one of the handlers was that I could adopt an elephant. If you adopt one or two, for instance, you get an exclusive chance to visit the elephants every evening from 5pm.
The trust is also home to a number of rhinos. One exception is Maxwell, a blind rhino who lives in a large enclosure for protection.
Packed with a lot of wonderful moments, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a place you and yours can spend a relaxing weekend at, as you enjoy some close quarter interaction with jumbos.