If you look up a list of the best things to do in Nairobi, the David Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage comes out tops on most lists. Visiting this elephant sanctuary is definitely one of Nairobi’s most popular tourist activities. Here, visitors have the opportunity to follow the lives of elephants that have been rescued from dicey situations in the wild.
Many of the elephants, mostly orphans, are raised from infanthood until they are fit to return to an independent life in one of Kenya’s National Parks.
When we first moved to Nairobi in the last quarter of 2020, the orphanage was closed to visitors. However, it has since reopened and regular guests are allowed to visit during the feeding hours between 11 am and 12 pm.
I arrived at the orphanage shortly after 11 am and was pleasantly surprised to see that the nursery was not as crowded as I had seen in some images. I believe this is due to the fact that walk-ins are now discouraged and visitors are expected to book a visit beforehand.
The bookings can be made via the link above and are allowed up to 3 months in advance. If you struggle to find a slot, check out my recommendation in the comment section or book a tour via this link.
The viewing lasted exactly one hour, during which two groups of elephant herds were brought out to be fed and to play before going back into their enclosures. While the elephant and their human caretakers interacted, a guide gave us a detailed lecture about each of them and the centre.
We learnt about the conservation efforts of the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage and how individuals and groups can contribute to these efforts. We also learnt about the state in which each elephant was found, how they were rescued and their current rehabilitation progress.
Overall, it was quite an insightful visit that I enjoyed very much. This was my first time being in close proximity to elephants, even being able to touch them. It did feel quite surreal.
It was also wonderful to see these magnificent creatures getting another shot at life and I feel very grateful to everyone involved in making this happen.
Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Ticket Price (or Donation)
The price to visit the elephant orphanage is Ksh1,500 for adults and kids above 12 years old. While children below 12 pay Ksh500. This is a donation fee and visitors are welcome to either donate more to the conservation efforts or even ‘adopt’ an elephant at a small fee.
Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Nairobi Opening Hours
The elephant orphanage is open to visitors from 11 am to 12 pm exclusively. In the past, there used to be another exclusive timeframe for visitors who have adopted an elephant, however, with covid restrictions, the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage no longer offers this timing.
Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage Travel Tips
The Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is situated in the Nairobi National Park, so you can take the opportunity to combine your trip with a safari in the city. The Giraffe Centre and a few other attractions are also close by and they make a good day out in Nairobi.
I have a 24-hour Nairobi guide which you can read here. But if you would rather go with an organized tour, then there are some available via Get Your Guide.
If you would like to learn more about the work the Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage is doing, you can check out this publication on their website. Also, if you would love to adopt (or sponsor) an elephant for as little as $50/year, you may also do so via this link.