Want to take the kids on safari? Not everyone is geared up for your little darlings, but some just revel in it. Here, we profile five of the best upcountry holiday spots for children in Kenya.
Ol Pejeta, Nanyuki
This private conservancy a short drive from Nanyuki is perhaps the destination for families seeking an active, upcountry break. It hosts a variety of properties to suit every budget from the swankiest house to the most rugged campsite.
Families can bunk down in the self-catering Pelican House, particularly well situated above a watering hole, or head to Sweetwaters, with its luxury tents and pool. The conservancy offers a range of activities for children from a ‘behind-the-scenes’ visit to its chimpanzee sanctuary, to petting Baraka, the blind rhino.
Its newest offering is the junior rangers club, where 4-16 year olds can work through a set of questions and games before taking the ranger oath and receiving an honorary pin. Prices vary. www.olpejetaconservancy.org
Basecamp Maasai Mara
While the parents head on safari, it’s nice to know the kids have something to do. Basecamp’s family appeal is in its young explorers club, where children as young as four years old learn about nature, track butterflies and animal footprints, and learn how to make bows and arrows, before getting a chance to use them.
Another popular activity is a visit to a Maasai workshop, where local women give the kids a go at making their own beaded jewellery.
The camp has staff who can watch the children while their parents are out of camp. Babysitting is limited, but staff can watch children until early evening. Sister lodge, Wilderness Camp in Naibosho conservancy, offers the same. Prices start from Ksh8,000 pp per night full board, excluding game drives. www.basecampexplorer.com
Kichwa Tembo, Maasai Mara
At the pricey end of the spectrum is this andBeyond camp in the Mara, but it does offer a superb range of child activities with its WildChild club, an additional charge. Among the activities children can do are nature walks, playing football with the camp’s team, dancing with the Maasai, and making rudimentary bead jewellery.
For the enthusiastic cooks, there’s the chance to run up a Ranger’s omelette breakfast out on a game drive. On the accommodation front, families can take advantage of its interconnected tents, which sleep two adults and up to three children. Rates start from $330 pp per night. Children under six go free. www.andbeyond.com
Acacia house, Naibosho Conservancy
Sometimes, taking a private house is perfect for a family retreat. Acacia House in the quieter conservancy bordering the Mara, makes for a homely stay, with a warming hearth for fireside games.
It’s pretty family-friendly, especially for younger kids, with a ‘kids-only’ loft bedroom, a DVD room with children’s classics, a toy room, and pool, including a baby pool. Kids can also cook with the chef, or mould safari animals from termite clay, and then bake them in the fire. Sleeps four adults, plus kids. From $210 pp per night on a full-board basis. www.asiliaafrica.com
Sanctuary Farm, Lake Naivasha
Whether you opt to take over the campsite or take a family room, this is a great family offering. Giraffe and wildebeest and other characters wander over the grounds, and there’s horse riding and boat rides over to Crescent Island on offer, as well as the chance to milk a cow.
It is also a great base for exploring what Naivasha has to offer beyond the lake, including the owl sanctuary, or Hell’s Gate national park, whether it’s for a dip in the steaming sulphur pools, trekking through the gorge, or heading out on a mountain bike adventure. From Ksh16,500 pp on half-board; camping starts at Ksh2,000 pp.
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