In the heart of bustling Nairobi – the capital of Kenya, amid the vibrant urban sprawl lies the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage – a sanctuary of compassion and hope.
Run by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, this conservation haven is home to orphaned baby elephants and rhinos and offers a rare opportunity for you to get up close and personal with these magnificent creatures while contributing to their rehabilitation!
If you’re planning a visit to Kenya – even if you just have one day in Nairobi like I did, don’t miss the chance to experience visiting this place first-hand.
There are so many wildlife encounters you can experience in Nairobi, and of all the things I did in my 24 hours in Nairobi, from going on a safari in Nairobi National Park to visiting the Giraffe Centre, visiting the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage was without a doubt the activity that I loved the most.
The organisation rescues orphaned elephants and rhinos whose parents have been killed by poachers, and provides them with a safe and loving environment until they can be reintegrated into the wild.
What Is The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust?
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is a world-renowned wildlife rehabilitation program in Nairobi, Kenya that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned elephants and rhinos.
Dame Daphne Sheldrick founded the Trust in 1977 in honour of her late husband, David Sheldrick and it has been running ever since. Since 2001, their daughter Angela Sheldrick has been running the Trust.
The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is the leading conservation organisation in East Africa, as well as the most successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program in the world.
So far they have successfully raised over 320 orphaned elephants!
Opening Hours For Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Nairobi
The Nursery at the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is open to the public for one hour every day (7 days a week, except Christmas Day) – from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM.
This is the only time when the general public can come and see the elephants. It’s recommended to arrive at 10.30 am to secure a good viewing spot.
Entrance Fee For Elephant Orphanage Nairobi
The minimum donation for adults and children aged 12+ to the Elephant Orphanage is 2,000 Kenyan Shillings (or $20 USD).
The minimum donation for children under 12 years old is 500 Kenyan Shillings (or $5 USD). Payments can be made in cash at the entry, and it’s advisable to have the exact amount.
The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust relies on donations and visitor fees to fund its conservation efforts.
By visiting the orphanage, you’re not only enjoying a unique and heartwarming experience but also contributing to the protection of these endangered species.
How To Make A Booking For The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage
Entry to the Elephant Nursery is strictly by advanced booking.
Bookings cannot be made for the same day, and there is a limited number of visitors allowed each day, so it’s best to book your tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
What to Do At The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi
At the Elephant Orphanage, you’ll get to meet the baby elephants – some of which are just a few months old!
You’ll get to watch the baby elephants being fed with giant milk bottles, as well as enjoy their mud baths to keep cool in the heat, play with one another, and interact with their dedicated keepers.
The Keepers, known as “elephant nannies” will share heartwarming stories about each elephant’s rescue and progress.
You’ll gain a deeper understanding of the threats facing these magnificent creatures and the critical conservation work being done.
Only the Keepers are allowed to feed and directly interact with the elephants. It is important that exposure to humans is limited as the elephants will ultimately be released back into the wild.
You can, however, take as many photos as you wish – and if an elephant does come right up to you it’s okay to pat it!
Whilst the hour does go quickly, it’s an incredibly rewarding and fun experience! I had such a great time here and just loved watching the baby elephants playing with each other.
Also don’t forget to visit the resident rhino, too, as the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust cares for orphaned rhinos in addition to elephants.
Location Of Elephant Orphanage Nairobi
The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is 17km southwest of Nairobi city centre and is easily accessible from the city by following Langata Road.
It is conveniently located on the western side of Nairobi National Park just off Magadi Road, which means before or after your visit you can head straight on a safari in Nairobi National Park – known as ‘The World’s Wildlife Capital’ if you wish! (separate fees apply).
Getting To The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi
The easiest way to get to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi is to use a rideshare app like Uber.
The journey from the city usually takes around 40 minutes depending on traffic conditions (Nairobi’s traffic can be quite unpredictable so allow extra time!).
Alternatively, many tour operators offer packages that include transportation to and from the orphanage, as well as a visit to the Giraffe Centre and Nairobi National Park!
Ethical Considerations At The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi
When you visit The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, it’s clear to see that it is dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of orphaned elephants and rhinos.
The Keepers at the orphanage look after the animals 24/7 and are passionate about the welfare and conservation of the elephants and rhinos.
They work tirelessly to ensure the physical and emotional needs of the young animals are met – which includes feeding them, keeping them comfortable, and giving them round-the-clock love and care!
The elephants looked extremely happy and relaxed when I was there and I have only ever heard positive things about the Orphanage.
Can You Adopt An Elephant At The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust?
Yes you can adopt an elephant – even if you can’t make it to the orphanage! All adoptions are done online through the David Sheldrick website and cost $50 for one year.
You’ll receive an adoption certificate, as well as downloadable images of your adopted elephant and first look at videos! You’ll also get monthly updates, downloadable watercolours by Angela Sheldrick, and access to the Keeper’s diaries!
This makes a great gift for anyone and is a great way to continue supporting the Elephant Orphanage long after your visit.
People who adopted elephants used to be able to visit the Orphanage at 5 pm as well as at 11 am to visit the elephants, but this is no longer the case, and 11 am-12 pm remains the only time people can visit the elephants, whether you’ve adopted one or not.
A visit to the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi offers a unique and ethical opportunity to connect with Africa’s majestic elephants and make a positive impact on wildlife conservation.
This heartwarming sanctuary provides visitors with an intimate look into the lives of orphaned elephants and the dedicated individuals working to protect them.
So, if you find yourself in Nairobi, don’t miss the chance to be a part of this remarkable journey of conservation and compassion.
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Catrina is a Travel Writer, SEO Specialist and ex-Flight Attendant based in Sydney, Australia. She has visited 85 countries and lived in several – including Italy, Australia, United Arab Emirates and England. Her work has been featured in a variety of popular travel publications including Fodors, Escape, Australian Traveller and Bear Grylls, as well as several international aviation and travel companies. The majority of her work however features on her own website – 24hourslayover.com where she has written over 500 travel articles!