Home to the world-famous Great Migration, the country’s Maasai Mara National Reserve is the place to visit if you are hoping for safari, super size! Alternatively, Laikipia offers a wealth of wildlife and excellent opportunities to take in a little culture. And the Samburu National Reserve is a breathtakingly beautiful area containing properties that offer great game drives as well as village visits. There really is something for everyone to enjoy!
It is hard to beat the Maasai Mara for sheer wealth of wildlife. World renowned for the wildebeest Great Migration from July to October, this Reserve boasts first-rate game viewing throughout the year – lion, leopard, rhino, buffalo, elephant (the Big Five), plus countless other predators and herbivores! The birdlife is also seriously impressive.
Pick of our properties are three camps, two located in the Mara North Conservancy and one in the west of the region. Kicheche Mara accepts children aged 11 years and over. This is an unfenced classic safari camp, with just eight comfy tents – up to two beds can be added to each tent to create a family unit. You can enjoy game drives both within the Conservancy and out in the Reserve. Walking safaris are also available in the Conservancy – and you can even spend at least a night fly camping, if you are feeling particularly adventurous! The Camp offers village visits too, as well as hot air balloon safaris and trips to the local Rhino Sanctuary.
Children of all ages are welcome at Serian the Original, which is our second family fave in the MMNR region. This camp has only six tents in total – five standards and one family unit. The family unit is effectively two standards joined together, for plenty of room. As at Kicheche, game drives are available in the Mara North Conservancy and in the Reserve – and there is the added draw of a private vehicle and driver/guide for each group of guests here! Other activities include walking safaris and bush running in the Conservancy, treks up the Oloololo escarpment, fishing, and fly camping at Serian’s Nest Treehouse. This is one of the most family-friendly properties in the area – under-5s stay free of charge!
The third property that is fab for families in the MMNR, is Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp. Large and luxurious, this camp is owned and operated by top-notch travel company &Beyond, so you are guaranteed some sumptuous accommodation, excellent activities, and super-high standards of service! Children of all ages are accepted and there are three family suites among the 40 deluxe units that make up the guest accommodation. There are also a number of standard rooms that can sleep two adults and one child aged 16 years or younger. Children aged 12 years and over are allowed on game drives, while those aged between 6 and 12 can participate in this activity at the manager’s discretion. Childminders are available for the little ones and there is also &Beyond’s special WILDChild programme to keep them entertained!
Laikipia is another excellent option for viewing lots of wildlife. This Kenyan county is located on the Equator and within the country’s former Rift Valley Province. Full of rippling plains, rushing rivers and streams, scrublands, woodlands, and rolling hills, Laikipia is also home to all Big Five and many more! Additionally, there are many opportunities to get involved with the county’s culture.
The properties that receive a big thumbs-up for families here are Sosian Lodge and Borana Lodge. Both are based on working ranches, perfect for those who like a farm vacation! Sosian’s formal policy is to accept children aged 5 years and over, but even younger children may be accepted. The Lodge is situated at an altitude of 6,000 feet and there is no record of malaria! There are seven cottage rooms in total – a single bed can be added to each, or a family unit is made by linking two rooms. Activities include game drives, guided walks, horse riding, camel riding, fly camping, and messing about on the nearby Ewaso Narok River. Age restrictions apply to horse riding and camel riding, but village visits are possible for everyone and you can find out all about ranch life from Sosian’s General Manager, Sean.
Similar things to do are provided at Borana. The lodge has two family units among its eight charming cottages, as well as additional rooms for the youngsters. As well as traditional safari activities, you can enjoy mountain biking, and even biplane and helicopter flights! Lodge owner Michael Dyer is happy to show you around the ranch. If you wish to venture farther afield, you can take a trip to Mount Kenya and stay in a cabin for a couple of nights! You can also learn about local conservation endeavours, for example by visiting the Northern White Rhino Sanctuary.
Our final recommendation for Kenya family vacations is the Samburu National Reserve. This Reserve receives meltwater from Mount Kenya throughout the year, so it attracts loads of thirsty animals! Of the Big Five, lion, leopard, and elephant are in residence here, but Samburu also boasts its very own Big Five – Grevy’s zebra, gerenuk, Beisa oryx, reticulated giraffe, and Somali ostrich. And travellers to the area can view a little culture too!
The property most suited to families in the Samburu is Saruni Samburu, a luxurious lodge on top of a big red rock within the Kalama Community Wildlife Conservancy. Children of ages 5 years and over are welcome, though management prefers to accept those aged 7 and over, due to steep drops from both guest accommodation and communal areas. There are just six villas, but four of these are family units! Activities comprise game drives and guided walks in the Conservancy, game drives in the Conservancy and the Reserve, birdwatching, mountain climbing, and flights out to Mount Kenya and Lake Turkana. You can also visit local village Kiltimany and check out the rock art in the local caves. On top of all this, there are things to do especially for children – learning the ways of the bush and getting to grips with Maasai warrior skills!
If any of this has whetted your appetite for a family trip to Kenya, just get in touch with us to start planning your vacation! Please note that Kenya is in Africa’s Malaria Belt. The highlands are free from malaria, but prophylaxis is recommended for all other areas.