Nairobi’s elephant orphanage: The ultimate guide

Elephants running in the mud at Nairobi's elephant orphanage

Nairobi’s elephant and rhino orphanage has got to be one of the best things to do in Nairobi. As well as the chance to spend an hour watching some of the most adorable creatures on Earth having the time of their lives, you will also be donating to a great cause.

A little history

The elephant orphanage in Nairobi is run by the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, set up and run by the Sheldrick family who tackle a huge range of conservation issues. While the baby elephant orphans project is at the heart of what they do, it is only a small part of the trust. Alongside the orphanage they also run anti-poaching programmes and have mobile veterinary units to get to animals in need quickly. They run community outreach programmes to educate local people about living alongside wildlife and they run a project to help save wilderness areas so that animals will always have a safe home to live in.

Baby elephant at Nairobi's elephant orphanage

Visiting Nairobi’s elephant orphanage

It’s a popular place (for obvious reasons!) so try to get there a little early so you can get in and find your place. If you make your way to the left as you enter then you will be able to get a spot near where the elephants enter and exit, so you will be able to see them as they come in.

Make sure you stand behind the cordoned off area, it’s there for a reason. One of the rangers will talk you through the ‘rules’ before the baby elephants arrive and then they will let them into the feeding area where you will get to see them bottle fed and playing in the mud baths. It really is the most adorable thing!

Close up of an orphaned elephant at Nairobi's elephant orphanage

While you’re watching them play the rangers will explain a little about each elephant so that you can really get to know them. Each elephant at the orphanage has it’s own keeper, that looks after it and gives it lots of love.

You will want your camera fully charged and at the ready-these are some seriously cute animals!

Top tip: Try not to wear your best white clothes, the elephants really don’t care what you’re wearing and if they want to spray mud all over you then they will!

Some elephant orphanage figures

  • Roughly 60% of baby elephants rescued under 2 years old survive
  • About 98% of elephants at the orphanage that reach 2 survive
  • Every baby elephant sleeps with a person every night
  • Elephants “choose’ when to go back into the wild
  • An elephant will remember it’s keeper for life (an elephant never forgets!)
Elephant orphans huddled together

How to get to Nairobi’s elephant orphanage

Sadly you can’t reach the elephant orphanage by public transport alone. The orphanage is located about 30 minutes away by taxi (which costs around 2000 Kenyan shillings roundtrip = $23). It would be worth combining this trip with another attraction nearby, such as the giraffe sanctuary or the Karen Blixen Museum, that way you make the most of you day.

If you want to save a little money you can take a Matatu that heads to the Galleria Mall.  Once at the Galleria Mall you will see taxi drivers parked on the side of the road where you can negotiate a rate.

Must knows

There is lots more detail on the orphanages website, including up to date information about the baby elephants that are currently at the orphanage. Check it out here!

Cost-Entrance will cost you 500 shillings (about $7). Make sure you take cash with you.

Opening hours-You can only see the elephants from 11am-12pm, so make sure you arrive a little early to get in the line. The orphanage is open every day (except Christmas day!)

How can you help?-You can adopt one of the baby elephants at the orphanage for $50 a year. This will go towards the elephants milk and care while it is in the orphanage.

For more to do on your visit to Nairobi check out my ultimate guide here.

A baby elephant's bum sat on the floor in the mud


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