Making memories in Kenya

Kenya is a popular safari destination for friends and families for many reasons – its beauty, the sheer diversity of wildlife, its convenient location with a variety of flight routes from the USA, and its affordability and value for money.

Our YPA founders, Nick and Ashley, recently traveled to Kenya with their nearly two-year-old daughter, Savannah, as well as another family (who have two young girls ages 6 and 1), to experience first-hand some of the best child-friendly safari experiences that Kenya has to offer.

Here are the gems they discovered along the way…

  •   Soft landing in Nairobi. If you have a flight that gets into Nairobi quite late, Manzili House is a welcome reprieve that’s close to the airport. Manzili House has only been open for a year and it’s owned by a 5th generation Kenyan family. It’s an intimate, luxury guest house that boasts 4 rooms in the main house (which works well for couples), a pool, and a separate 2-bedroom family house.

“We booked the family house (Ndoto House), checked in late, and woke up feeling refreshed to a beautiful day in Kenya. It’s away from the crowds and an easy place to love.”

  •   Checking in to Nairobi National Park. Next was a short drive to Nairobi National Park, where we checked into The Emakoko boutique safari lodge. As far as being in the city and on safari goes, Emakoko ticks all the boxes.

“We’re always on the hunt for great two-bedroom family suites – and even better if the lodge knows how to make a great Dawa (local cocktail). We saw rhinos and lions with cubs – needless to say, we were all delighted.”

Stay tuned for our dedicated article on ‘The best short stay in Nairobi’ which will go live soon!

  •   Private charter into the Maasai Mara National Reserve. Private charters are affordable for group bookings and a no-brainer when you’re traveling with little children. Not only can you avoid unnecessary stopovers and land directly at your place of accommodation, but it’s an incredible experience to fly low and enjoy aerial views of giraffes, hippos and elephants down below.

We stayed in the Amani House villa at House in the Wild, an owner-operated boutique lifestyle lodge located far up north on the Mara River.

“It’s great for families and has big lawns all around the property where the kids can run off their energy after sitting still on game drive. It’s quite far north, away from the crowds but within the Maasai Mara, and we saw leopards, lions, and hippos.”

  •   Venturing into the heart of the Kimana Sanctuary. Here we stayed at the newly opened and family-friendly Angama Amboseli and loved its iconic views of Kilimanjaro Mountain, beautiful suites, and delicious food. As Kenya’s first community-owned conservancy, the sanctuary has a wonderful conservation story and is famed for being an area where some of Africa’s last Super Tusker elephants roam.
  •   On to Kalepo Camp in the Samburuland, Northern Kenya. We loved Kalepo because it’s an exclusive use property that is perfect for families or large groups of friends.

“Where else in the world can you sit in a river enjoying a perfect margarita with an elephant drinking just 50 meters away from you? The food was exceptional (the jamon at the champagne brunch was a crowd pleaser), and you can go on hikes, book a helicopter excursion, and participate in cultural community experiences.”

  •   Last stop – the award-winning Ol Pejeta Conservancy. We were excited to stay at the newly built Sanctuary Tambarare and loved their ‘boutique-meets-bush’ canvas tents. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy has one of the highest predator densities in Kenya and offers exciting lion tracking excursions.

“The views of Mt Kenya and open grass plains were spectacular, as were the game drives. This is a wonderful location for families, at a good price point.”

Here’s a handy Kenya cheat sheet to help you decide on which destinations you want to visit:

Region Best for…
  • Cultural experiences
  • Walking tours
  • Helicopter excursions
Maasai Mara National Reserve
  • Large herds and diverse wildlife
  • Beautiful rivers and hippo families
  • Hot air balloon trips

 (Think The Lion King)

  • City/safari combinations
  • Convenient location
  • Feeding giraffes at the Giraffe Centre or Giraffe Manor (if you stay) and learning about rescue elephants at Sheldrick’s 

Keep an eye out for our ‘The best short stay in Nairobi’ article which will go live soon!

  • Ol Malo, Ol Pejeta, Lewa
  • Big Five sightings
  • Family-run properties

As you can see, there’s a lot to see and do in Kenya and no shortage of family-friendly experiences that tick all of your wildest bucket list safari criteria. Using our cheat sheet and let us help you plan the perfect Kenyan safari.

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