Safari in Kenya: A Chance for Three Generations to Reconnect and Explore, Every time I speak to a friend, I hear about the growing anticipation of getting the family together again.
My answer is simple: Go on a safari.
- Safaris are a once in a lifetime experience, perfect for sharing with your whole family
- Outdoor adventures are ideal for socially distant travel
- It’s not all about game drives; safaris are packed with fun activities for all ages
“It’s unbelievable to think about how much of my kids’ lives our parents have missed out on, “ said client Maryanne G. of Chicago, Illinois about the safari they’ve planned for summer 2021 with both sides of their family. “We have two young kids, and when we look back through photos and videos, that gap in time is really noticeable. This will be our first trip to Africa but we needed something so different from the past year and even our past vacations to feel like we were making up for lost time with something truly meaningful. There has to be something good to come out of all this.”
As we look forward, as people feel safe again, we are encouraging and helping our clients to book the 2021 or 2022 reunion of a lifetime. Taking kids on safari is incredible – and adding in multiple generations only amplifies the experience and the memories.
What is my top destination for a family safari?
There are so many great countries to go on a safari with kids but my top destination for multi-generational journeys, especially for first-time safari-goers and for age groups that range between preschool and 55+, is Kenya. My connection to Kenya, being born there and experiencing life there, is deep and sincere.
The beauty of the wildlife and the natural surroundings are amplified by a warm, welcoming culture which celebrates families. Visitors are made to feel like family at Kenya’s safari camps and lodges, and that means long dinners filled with laughter as much as it does showing the kids the best places to find frogs in the creek beds.
Here are some tips for the perfect trip to Kenya
- Start in the wild, finish wildly refreshed
- Avoid the temptation to cram in too much
- You can go private: private properties and charters
Crafting the perfect escape to Kenya with excited kids and grown ups who want to be busy but also unwind is about balancing comfort and adventure, excursions and downtime, familiarity with new experiences.
Breaking up the trip into two distinct parts helps make it feel like two separate vacations in one. Resist the temptation to see and do everything. We are encouraging people to reset their vacation habits, to spend a little longer in fewer places and give themselves the permission to fully take a break.
Ideally, I’d recommend a minimum of 9 nights for the opportunity to settle in at each location and ensure you get the most out of each region and camp. You’ll likely have at least one night in Nairobi at the start, but you could easily spend two (giving you time to visit the Maasai markets and explore urban life), which leaves you with 4 nights at each of two safari camps.
Clients ask me all the time, “if it were your trip, what would you do?”
This is what I would do with my family this summer:
Angama Safari Camp (4 nights)
I recommend starting your adventure in the most action-packed area possible, the Maasai Mara. It’s a one hour charter flight from Nairobi and a thrill (for everyone) to spot those first animals scattering off the airstrip as you approach. By starting the trip in the country’s premiere wildlife area, your family will start ticking the boxes, start to relax, and be more open to different experiences later in the trip.
Angama Safari Camp is the perfect place to do just that. It is an exclusive-use camp with a light footprint, and fits up to eight guests. I love tented camps because they evoke the feeling of the early 1900’s safaris, but with all the frills and creature comforts. Tents are a thrill for kids, but Angama’s luxury touches will keep even the toughest to please members of the group floating on air.
Surrounded by plains filled with lion, cheetah, leopard, elephant, buffalo, and so much more, your group will have the entire camp and its dedicated staff and safari vehicle all to yourself. Stay out for an action-packed day in the bush or relish a long lunch watching wildlife walk through camp. Take a nap while the kids hunt for the perfect sticks to make bows and arrows. You’re right in the heart of the action so there’s no missing out, even by hanging back.
The beauty of exclusive-use camps is the freedom to truly customize your days based on everyone’s interests. That might even mean some of the group doing different things each day, and that’s okay! As circumstances change, plans can too.
Angama is “luxuriously simplistic,” said Samantha F. of Louisville, Kentucky, whose family took advantage of morning game drives because the kids were early risers. “Our days were planned around what worked for our family which meant my husband and I trading off early morning game drives with the kids, while the others slept a little longer. The rest of the group would do their own game drive and then we would all come together for breakfast in the bush. Everyone got to do what they wanted at a time that worked for them. It was bliss.”
After afternoon and sunset game drives, you’ll treasure dark nights under the starry sky around the campfire. Learn the constellations of the Southern sky together, share stories of the Maasai Mara with your hosts, and take in the calls of the lions and hyenas at night.
Lengishu (4 nights)
From Angama, it’s another one-hour charter flight to Lengishu, an exclusive-use family home in Laikipia, within Northern Kenya’s 32,000 acre Borana Conservancy. After the wilds of camping, indulging in Lengishu’s luxury is the perfect way to finish an extraordinary journey.
The house has six bedrooms within four cottages, accommodating a range of family members, ages, and styles. Accompanying your stay will be another dedicated, professional team featuring your guide, chef, host, and butler.
After the safari camp experience, the kids will love taking in a full day in the infinity pool and learning petanque or playing in the billiards room. Grown-ups are invited to steal away for a wonderful massage from the in-house massage therapist and relax on the terrace. Everyone will enjoy being the house’s taste-tester of the endless snacks and culinary creations streaming out from the kitchen or wood-fired pizza oven.
The comfortable, modern property might not feel like a safari, and yet the experiences that you’ll launch from this destination are among the most diverse you can imagine. Of course game drives are always an option, but Laikipia is the place you go to stretch your legs and become a bit of a Kenyan cowboy.
Roust the adults early one morning to track Borana’s black and white rhino on foot. This is one of the most immersive experiences possible as you accompany the conservancy’s rangers on their daily patrol to find and monitor the endangered rhino. Meanwhile, the kids will be stirring up their own fun learning bush skills with head guide Nissa like reading animal tracks and finding and sampling edible plants.
Then, head out to the Ngare Ndare Forest with a picnic lunch in tow. Swim in the glacier-melt water and walk in the canopy of this ancient forest among birds and monkeys.
End the day watching the setting sun on Pride Rock. Yes, the very spot which inspired Disney’s The Lion King is on Borana Conservancy. Gather on bean bags and blankets while toasting the day and taking videos of the kids recreating their favorite scenes from the movie.
Other days might find the gang out riding horses or taking Lengishu’s fleet of mountain bikes out for a spin while whizzing past zebra, tucking into a poolside barbecue, fishing for tilapia at the dam and taking a dip in the river, traipsing around Waitabit Farm to pick produce for the day’s meals, or hunting for porcupine at sunset.
Perhaps one of my favorite excursions in Northern Kenya though, is a scenic helicopter trip up to the remote Suguta Valley. Photograph the psychedelic alkaline lakes and flocks of pink flamingos, scale towering sand dunes, and relish the ancient and desolate landscapes of very early mankind. On the way back to Lengishu, make a stop at the Reteti Elephant Orphanage to learn from the keepers and interact with the elephants who will one day be reintroduced back into the wild.
Having so many experiences as a child visiting and living in Kenya, it is always so incredible for me to help plan trips that include kids and large families to this incredible place.
Give us a call and talk with one of our travel experts or fill in your details below and we will send you a link to your full itinerary.