Of all the African countries, Kenya is amongst the best for a family safari holiday. And contrary to received wisdom this is one of the best countries to leave the crowds far behind
Many of Kenya's camps and lodges were started by old Kenyan families whose children have been raised running around barefoot in the garden, learning to ride horses from very young, exploring with Samburu guides (who are specialists at enrapturing children with discoveries of bird's nests and ant-lion dens) and generally enjoying a freedom seldom found these days.
Based on our own experience of being on safari with our kids, we lean towards an itinerary that is varied, but which allows for time to relax and explore without too much frenetic rushing from place to place, or long hours in the car. The private ranches in Laikipia are particularly great for families as they provide a safe environment where parents can enjoy some downtime while the children can be kept well occupied with a variety of activities from game drives to camel-riding, fishing and swimming in rivers to getting involved with the daily chores of the farm. There is also a remarkable mobile camel safari which we, and a number of our family clients have thoroughly enjoyed.
The conservancies bordering the Masai Mara Reserve have a selection of small tented camps and lodges that are well equipped to accommodate families. The focus here is firmly on the wildlife experience, which can potentially get a bit much for children (given that it often involves long hours bumping around in a car in search of excitement). Conscious of this, we favour camps where game viewing can be tailored to suit families, it is possible to mix-it up with getting out on short nature walks, or there is the option of just spending a day in camp and perhaps seeing what comes in to drink. In the Mara it is often preferable to opt for a private car and guide.
Kenya is obviously ideal as a beach and bush destination and for children, the prospect of a warm sea and clean, sandy beach is enough to spark enormous excitement. At Natural High, we've spent childhood holidays on Kenya's beaches, and subsequently enjoyed taking our own families to the seaside. Again, we shy away from the busy resorts and concentrate on the small, personal places tucked away in the quieter areas of the coast.
The places we choose allow a great amount of flexibility, which is important if you're travelling with children, and also a level of personal attention which makes the trip enjoyable for everyone.