The first safari is one of those long anticipated moments in the family travel calendar. It’s the holiday you talk for years about taking and that, on return, reminisce over fondly. Yet planning it can be laden with questions and queries. Thankfully, our Africa travel experts have been planning family safaris for years, and have road-tested with their own families in tow. They therefore know exactly what it takes to create the perfect family safari – and how to tailor it to yours.
To inspire you, we’ve rolled out the map to showcase this eight-night immersive adventure through Kenya. Frequently lauded as the ideal first time safari destination, it’s a great choice for your family safari, no matter your children’s ages. To get you started, we’ve handpicked our favourite luxury camps and lodges and paired them with family-friendly experiences that will bring the plains of the Maasai Mara and Laikipia to life. See your family’s eyes light up as they tick off the Big Five on a game drive, but you’ll also delight in the smaller details on alternative safaris that will see you travel by foot, horseback or mountain bike. There’s a fun introduction to Maasai culture too with the chance to enrol in Maasai Warrior School. Packed full of fun, unique experiences, this truly is the ultimate family safari.
Meet the Wildlife of Nairobi
A bustling, cosmopolitan city, Nairobi is the perfect place to start your safari. It’s well connected too meaning that getting here is a breeze. You’ll have two nights at the boutique Hemingways Nairobi to settle in and decompress, but that’s not to say you’re left waiting for your wildlife experience to begin. Tomorrow morning, we’ll take you to the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust for a visit to their elephant orphanage. Here, you’ll be able to spend time with the rescued baby elephants, lending the keepers a hand at feeding time and watching them play. It’s a great opportunity to see conservation in action, with the orphans hand reared until they are ready to be reintroduced into the wild. From there, continue onto the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife giraffe centre. Originally a breeding programme for the endangered Rothschilds giraffes, you’ll spend time with these gentle giants, joining in at feeding time, and listening in to current conservation initiatives.
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The View from Pride Rock
Having enjoyed a gentle introduction to African wildlife, tomorrow it’s time for the real thing as you board a flight to Laikipia. In the shadow of Mount Kenya, this lesser visited region is well known for its rolling scenery and conservation initiatives and is a great place to first dip your toe into the safari experience. Set within a sprawling private conservancy, you’ll have three nights at Borana Lodge to do exactly that. Their two-bedroom suites make it the perfect choice for a family stay, but their real trump card? Borana is home to the original inspiration for Lion King’s Pride Rock and a stay here will see you enjoy morning hot chocolates and refreshing sundowners from the iconic lookout.
Experts in a family-friendly safari experience, there’s no minimum age to stay at Borana with experiences adapted to best suit each family. Your days here are therefore yours to plan as you wish. To start, we’d recommend a leisurely game drive with the whole family. This will offer a great introduction to your surroundings and the handy ID cards included in the jeep will keep the kids engaged as you set off in search of the Big Five. After that, Borana specialise in horseback safaris with on property stables home to over 30 horses and trails appropriate for all level of experience. Elsewhere there are mountain biking safaris as well as walking safaris, with tailored bush walks nearer the lodge for younger explorers. Perfect for an all creatures great and small approach.
Get involved in conservation in Laikipia
Conservation is at the heart of everything Borana does and for adults and older children, there’s a chance to see that first hand. Every morning, Borana sends a team of scouts out onto the conservancy to check in on their rhino population and you have the chance to join them. Whilst rhino thrive here, ensuring they continue to do so is vital, so join the scouts and go behind-the-scenes to see what it takes to keep them safe. One step further, the evening sees anti-poaching units head out to various vantage points to further survey and monitor the whole conservancy. Join them and do your part to protect the wildlife. For younger guests, there are still conservation opportunities, with our favourite being a visit to Waitabit farm to learn about sustainable farming and farm to table cuisine.
Safari on the Maasai Mara
After three nights at Borana, you’ll then board a flight into the heartland of safari, the Maasai Mara. Home to a thriving wildlife population, the Mara is as iconic as safari comes and is an unmissable part of any Kenyan safari. Experience it all from Cottar’s Safaris, a beautiful tented camp and East Africa’s oldest family-run safari. The Cottar family have generations of experience in bringing the safari experience to life, so you know you are in good hands here. Spend the next few days exploring all that the 7,000-acre private conservancy has to offer with game drives and bush walks aplenty. Cottar’s have strong links with the local Maasai community too and spending some time getting to know their culture is a highlight of any visit to the Mara. Children will love the Maasai Warrior School programme where they’ll have the chance to master the skills of spear throwing and archery as well as take an athletic turn and learn to run and jump like a Maasai Warrior.
With time for conservation initiatives too, such as expert led talks, foraging experiences and rehabilitation projects, you’ll have truly experienced the Mara to the fullest. On your final evening, we’ll organise a night of stargazing beneath the wide-open skies followed by a delicious bush boma dinner, the perfect opportunity to look back and share your favourite moments of the trip. Tomorrow, it’ll be time to return home but we’re certain a passion for Africa will have been ignited that won’t keep you away for long.