Kids and Kenya
You may not think it but Kids and Kenya most certainly do go hand in hand. My three boys are testament to that after living here for a year - they absolutely love it, and it is the place for them to unleash their wildside.
The amazing animals (what kid doesn’t like animals- especially big ones?), the beautiful weather, the adventure, and being outside almost all the time. My kids literally spend their days climbing trees, playing in the mud, fishing in rivers and sitting on the roof of our four-wheel drive while we go out on safari (health and safety isn’t really a thing in Kenya!).
During our year here we have done a fair bit of travelling and oh my, what diversity Kenya has to offer. Mountains with snow on, deserts, the coast, pine clad forests, and open savannahs. There is most definitely something for everyone here - young and old.
Let's start off with Nairobi as it is very likely that if travelling to Kenya, you will arrive or leave from this capital city.
So, my top tips for Nairobi with kids are:
This is in no way a market but actually one of Nairobi’s new shopping malls complete with designer shops, a trampoline park and soft play. My kids can easily spend a day here. There is lots of space, parking and the kids parks can easily accommodate kids from 3-15 years old.
Although you will see loads of giraffes on your Kenyan adventure, it is still pretty special for kids when they can touch, and even be kissed by, a giraffe. My kids absolutely loved this place- you only need an hour or so there, but there is a nice little bird sanctuary over the road (free) which you can have a wonder around afterwards.
Whilst a bit dated, the attraction of this mall is it is just off the A2 on the way out of Nairobi and it has a multi-screen cinema. It also has a small water park (probaby suits those up to age 10), a few large inflatables to go on, and some shops and food joints (including a KFC if you have fussy kids like me).
I live in the middle of Kenya in a town called Nanyuki. It is at the foot of Mt Kenya and because we are high up, the climate is just perfect. This area of Kenya is definitely worth a visit - the wildlife is amazing. My top tips for safari are:
This conservancy doesn’t involve too much driving as it is just off the main A2. It has all the wildlife you might want to tick off (lions, elephants, giraffe, and the last two Northern White Rhinos in the world). It has a lovely café with a kids menu, a really informative visitors centre which kids love, and even a blind Rhino that you can feed and touch. They have lots of kids activities you can book such as horse riding and lion tracking at an extra cost.
This is a lovely place to stay or eat out. Has a great kids menu and a pond and lots of space to keep the kids entertained. If you ask behind the bar, they usually have some fishing lines that the kids can use to catch tilapia in the pond.
Another restaurant though also has accommodation, this place has a small kids playground in its lovely garden - always a hit with the little ones.
Altitude Horse riding safaris
Suitable for anyone from three-years-old to adults, Altitude has beautiful horses in a beautiful rural setting. You get to ride with zebras and giraffes and all looking out to Mt Kenya. A great half day activity for young and old. Put your suncream on and ride early before it heats up.
One of my favourite places in Kenya, this is a boutique camp around two hours from Nanyuki. It doesn’t have a pool and some of the activities are on foot so I would probably suggest this for children three and over. However, unlike most safaris, the beauty of this place is being out of the vehicles, and just getting messy and truly experiencing nature. Activities we have done include fishing, swimming in the river, kayaking and boulder climbing. The staff are great with kids and will make up early dinners for them which you can take out on safari with you, then they will have someone watch your kids in the tent while grown-ups have their dinner.
Heading north from Nanyuki you start to drop down and enter the arid plains of Samburu country. It gets much hotter and dryer and you start to see the manyattas (mud huts) littering the scenery. It is such a contrast to Nanyuki in every respect- much wilder and more primitive, with cows and camels drifting across the road and small children herding their animals. For children, if the drive doesn’t entertain them, the lodges certainly will. There are some great, reasonably priced lodges down there- here are my favourites for kids.
This is right on the river and has a myriad of freshwater springs and streams running through the gardens which my kids love to play in. There is crocodile feeding each night and a lovely swimming pool with shallow areas for the kids to cool off in. The food is buffet style with so much choice that even the fussiest eater will find something they like.
Another lodge by the river, this one is a tented camp if you fancy something a bit more rustic. There are monkeys everywhere, a lovely pool with a baby pool attached (from which we saw elephants and giraffes) and the drive to the lodge will be a safari experience in itself as there is so much wildlife there. Again, food is buffet style. It does get hot at night here and they often don’t have power for fans so just to be aware if you have littluns that get hot at night.
There really is something for all in Kenya - wildlife, amazing scenery, and culture. I can guarantee that your kids will have adventures and experiences that will create memories for life.
Written by Rebecca Vaux
Rebecca is mum to three very boisterous boys, a freelance Facebook ad strategist and military wife finding her way around the world one move at a time with her husband's job in the army. She says: 'our kids have had the privilege of experiencing so many different lifestyles and places and I hope that my own love of travel and adventure will now be instilled in them for life'