Get your kids to look up from their screens and head off on a family safari to Kenya. Enrich their imaginations with views of the far-reaching savannah and let the thrill of spotting the big five in their natural habitat beat new excitement into their veins.
A Kenya family safari provides you with opportunities for adventure, cultural immersion, learning about conservation, seeing wildlife, and most importantly, time for relaxation and family bonding. To get an insight into some of the incredible experiences you might encounter during a family safari holiday in Kenya, take a look at the video below.
So, how should you spend your summer holidays on safari in Africa? Well, if you had only one chance to go on a once-in-a-lifetime safari, my ultimate luxury family safari would be to Kenya and would look something like this:
Read on to discover an example of a tailored Kenya safari family vacation.
On arriving early into Nairobi, you will be whisked by light aircraft past the snow-dusted peaks of Mt Kenya to Laikipia in time for lunch. Your family safari in Kenya begins at one of my favourite luxury safari lodges - Ol Lentille. This magical 40,000-acre conservancy is owned by the local community, who benefit from the lodge in many ways.
Nestled into the contours of the hills are four private villas which can be booked individually, or taken exclusively by a large family or group. With a library, open-air viewing deck, unlimited spa treatments and a spectacular infinity swimming pool, Ol Lentille is the perfect destination to unwind and relax together. However, there is no set timetable here and you can do as much or as little as you wish. From day and night game drives, walking safaris, camel trekking, horse riding, mountain and quad biking to meals out in the bush and picnics in stunning locations, the options are endless. There are also opportunities to meet the friendly Maasai and Samburu people who look after you; a fantastic chance for the whole family to learn about the culture and way of life here.
After a few glorious days in Laikipia, transfer by scheduled light aircraft to your Masia Mara safari lodge, the luxurious Cottar’s 1920s Camp. Drawing on some 100 years of traditional safari experience, the Cottar family invite you to step back in time to a bygone era with 1920s-style cream canvas tents while at the same time supplying modern amenities for the most discerning traveller.
The staff and guides here are mostly Maasai and some have been with Cottar’s for decades, with at least three being Gold KPPA guides. Calvin Cottar himself has won the award for Best Guide in Africa three times! During your stay at this fantastic Kenya luxury safari lodge, go exploring with a Maasai warrior and learn all about the local wildlife and find out first-hand about this historic and fascinating tribe. Younger members of the family can take part in the Maasai Warrior School where they learn which plants can be used for medicines or for vital purposes such as brushing their teeth, as well as how to make and shoot a bow and arrow. Top off this luxury safari experience with a champagne picnic in the bush.
Cottars 1920s Camp is home to six authentic canvas tents boasting luxurious furnishings, original safari antiques, hand woven rugs and traditional Kenyan artefacts. Each tent has a large and comfortably furnished private terrace with views over the Masai Mara plains and a separate lounge area with plush sofas, large scatter cushions and an open fireplace. Meals are served in the dining tent, on the vast terrace with traditional boma, or in the privacy of your own tent. Sample fine wines, cognacs and whiskeys in the bar beside the roaring fireplace, relax beside the pool in the African sun or learn about the local flora, fauna and wildlife in the camp’s well-stocked library. Birds and butterflies abound, elephants wander through the camp at night and leopards call nearby.
Should you wish for a more exclusive experience on your Kenya safari family holiday, Cottar’s also have the magnificent Cottar’s Private Bush Home a short distance from the camp.
After experiencing a safari in the Masai Mara, why not try something totally different and head to the heartwarming Ithumba Camp for the next stage of your Kenya family safari tour? This exclusive and stylishly rustic self-catered tented camp is designed for the intrepid traveller who relishes being off the beaten track. Accommodation consists of just four canvas safari tents, each one covered by a thatched roof to provide additional shelter from the sun. The setup is simple but comfortable, with en-suite facilities and outdoor showers.
Although this is a place to appreciate big skies, star-studded nights and a rich array of fascinating species, the entire purpose of staying here is to spend time at the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, visiting the elephant orphanage and sharing in the lives of the elephant orphans. Spend your days with the guides learning about the elephant's histories and personalities, meeting them at the watering hotels and dust baths and seeing them being fed. In between, you will return to your camp for lunch, siestas and relaxation. In the dry season, you can enjoy an amazing spectacle when herds of ex-orphans return for visits to the stockade and spend time with the orphan elephants. They seem to know this place is a refuge and safe haven for them.
Tear your family away from the elephants and head further south to the beautiful white powdery beaches of Kenya’s stunning coast. One of my favourite private family villas in Kenya is Alfajiri, which has three of the finest self-contained exclusive-use houses on the East African coast. The position of the villas ensures privacy and mesmerising views. The best villa for families, Cliff Villa, can accommodate up to eight guests in four en-suite bedrooms and has its own pool.
Fresh seafood is brought daily to order from the beach and includes some of the best crab, prawns, lobster, octopus and sea fish available. The food served here has a strong Mediterranean influence (after all, Fabrizio and his wife are Italian!) with oils, Parma ham and some cheeses flown in weekly from Europe. The salads and fresh vegetables come daily from local farms and the fruit is handpicked from trees and bushes around Diani.
Children of any age are welcome at Alfajiri and a nanny service is included in the price of your stay - the staff are wonderful at entertaining children and teenagers to allow adults time to relax. The chefs will prepare the children’s meals at any time to suit them and will tailor the meals to their tastes and requirements.
The activities included in your stay are endless. Indulge in a relaxing massage or reflexology, go snorkelling to the coral reef with local fishermen, play a round of golf or enjoy a local excursion within the Diani Beach area. The villa’s owners can also arrange PADI diving courses, kite surfing, deep-sea fishing and excursions to the nearby Kisite Marine National Park.
Take a tour around the -> Alfajiri Villas
An alternative to Alfajiri for the family on your Kenya safari holiday is the beachside property, Msambweni House. Over three kilometres of white sand beach to the front of the property is protected from the open ocean by fringing reefs and reached by a pathway and a series of steps.
There is excellent snorkeling on the Msambweni Reef, some 400 metres from the shore. Goggles and masks are provided. This is still a traditional working beach with the local Digo fishermen paddling or sailing out in their traditional dugout canoes (ngalawas); one’s dinner will, most likely, be sourced from here!
Built from scratch, the property is hosted by the owner, Frederik, who is wonderful and attentive. Msambweni is a real gem; and is situated on a forty-foot-high cliff and surrounded by about 28 acres of natural land from where there are stunning views along the beautiful, quiet beach and across the Indian Ocean.
This is just one idea for a memorable family safari in Kenya. However, we can tailor each safari and holiday to your individual needs and preferences.
It is only an eight-hour direct flight from the UK on either Kenya Airways or British Airways and there is now a direct flight from USA (JFK into Nairobi) daily taking only 14 hours. There is a simple e-visa system where you can apply online in advance to avoid unnecessary queues at the airport.
The school summer break is a fantastic time to be in East Africa as it is in the dry season so you won’t be submerged in torrential rain. It is also cooler at this time of year so you will not be uncomfortably hot.
Images by kind courtesy of:
Alfajiri Villas, Msambweni House, Ithumba Camp, Cottar’s 1920s Camp, The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille, Stevie Mann, Angela Sheldrick.