Arriving into Nairobi Airport, a VIP team will ensure your entry into Kenya is quick and painless. Without passing through the city at all, you will be transferred via safari jeep to The Emakoko, possibly the world’s most unique airport hotel, where you can relax on the terrace whilst wildebeest graze across the river. If time permits, do an afternoon game drive (the Big Five are all present in the park) or visit the Rothschild Giraffe Conservancy.
An African Safari is a bucket list item for many families but the logistics and sheer breadth of experiences can be daunting. Expert advice is a must, and will make a safari one of the most memorable experiences you can share with your family. Live your own documentary!
13 nights, 14 days
Adventure + wildlife
Mixing wildlife, terrain and experiences keeps engagement levels high, and accommodations which have pools and/or kids activities will keep everyone happy during safari downtime.
Riya's East Africa Lodge Picks
A perfect introduction to the safari experience, The Emakoko is an airport hotel with a difference – half an hour from Jomo Kenyatta Airport, these beautiful whitewashed bungalows are deep in Nairobi National Park and surrounded by wildlife.
A family-run working ranch on the wild Laikipia plateau of Northern Kenya with bungalows, lodge and house all built from local stone and timber with views for miles. Horse riding and camel safaris are on offer as well as game viewing and an introduction to the local Samburu tribe.
A superbly run camp with family tents decked out in Hemingway style, and exceptional guides and game viewing. Family friendly with a lovely pool area and grassy lawns. Don’t miss out on having a bush bath set up for you whilst the children are having warrior lessons!
Stylish and sophisticated, this is a beautiful lodge with the most luxurious tents imaginable. Baths and terraces look over the river below, and elephants and baboons often come to drink right outside. Food and service are exceptional, with meals served in a different dramatic setting each night.
Chic lodge on the shores of Lake Manyara with exceptionally well appointed safari-luxe tents. Outstanding food and fascinating activities. Squeeze in a visit to their sister camps, Little Chem Chem and Forest Chem Chem if possible – all equally gorgeous but each with a different feel.
- Visit to a local Samburu Manyatta to experience local song + dance traditions Day 3
- Stargaze in the comfort of a remote treehouse Day 4
- Fly over untouched sand dunes + vast lakes with a heli-safari Day 5
- The kids will learn how to make fire + shoot bows the Kenyan way Day 7
- Experience a walking safari with the Hadzabe tribe Day 10
- Sundowners at Chem Chem Day 12
Fly up to Ol Malo, a family-owned cattle ranch of red earth and bush on the edge of the Laikipia plateau in Northern Kenya. Your Samburu Guide will greet you on arrival. The jeep transfer itself is an adventure – kids will love climbing up to the rooftop seats for maximum game-viewing opportunities during the drive to Ol Malo. Elephants, giraffe, zebra, impala and warthog all frequent the plateau and you will hear plenty of excited shouting from your newly appointed spotters.
On arrival, owners Chyulu and Andrew Francombe and their young family will settle you into your accommodations. The lodge and thatched houses are rustic and appealing with their oversized hobbit-house feel. Hippo House is a 2-bedroom bungalow perched on the edge of the plateau where you can watch elephants and zebra picking their way across the bush at the base of the cliffs far below, and hear lions roaring in the night.
Explore the house (the kids will have bolted for the pool by now) or perhaps take an excellent massage to recover from jetlag. As evening falls, your open air living room with comfy sofas and fireplace is the perfect place to curl up with a book, play a game of cards, or have sundowners on the terrace whilst tiny bats flit overhead.
Dinner may be served on the rooftop terrace of Ol Malo House, a magical experience as the stars come out and lanterns are lit. Try and time your visit with a full moon!
Plan your day over a cup of tea with Chyulu at breakfast. Maybe a horseback ride across the plains to get up close and personal with zebra and giraffe, followed by a lunch of fresh tasty salads back at the House and swim in the heat of the afternoon.
In the evening, your guide may take you to visit to a local Samburu Manyatta where warriors and beautifully beaded young women chant and dance, and show you an entirely uncommercial way of life. Dinner back Ol Malo may be a wood fired barbecue where the friendly staff will teach you how to make some local dishes.
Wake early and hike down the cliffside to where your camel train awaits, a great novelty for most children. Climb up and take a safari with your guide through the bush. Arrive at a scenic riverside spot and a bush breakfast will be waiting for you (hastily packed up should a herd of elephants be passing through).
In the afternoon, take a picnic supper and drive through stunning scenery for a thrilling night under the stars in Ol Malo’s remote treehouse, built over a waterhole where you might be lucky enough to see leopard drinking overnight. A drawbridge provides peace of mind, and the Samburu are stationed close by.
Transfer back to the lodge where the whirr of chopper blades signals time for your next adventure, a day long scenic heli-safari. Doors off add excitement to this unforgettable journey where you will fly over untouched sand dunes and extinct craters, rocky canyons and vast lakes.
If you don’t like heights or have small children, Chyulu can organize a visit to the Samburu beading workshop to make bracelets, or to a local Samburu market, an eye-opener for children used to supermarkets and department stores. Dinner may be served in your cottage tonight, with the fire blazing inside and stars blazing outside.
Today you’ll fly down to the Masai Mara, one of the most densely game-populated areas in Kenya. Cottars 1920’s Safari Camp has a huge conservancy so you will almost never see another game vehicle. The landscape is diverse, from the flat grasslands of the Savannah through to rocky hills, green oases, and dense bush which could be hiding lions or leopards. Your guide will transfer you from Keekorok Airstrip, game spotting along the way.
On arrival make your way to lunch, meet your fellow guests and orient around the camp before your evening drive. As shadows lengthen, your guide and spotter will unerringly find some amazing sights. Plenty of big cat activity from the resident prides ensures that the kids will have Instagram content for weeks. If you’re lucky enough you may spot a kill and the guides will get you close enough to hear bones crunching. Dinner is back at camp where stories of the day are exchanged with friendly camaraderie.
It’s all about game driving mornings and afternoons to see a huge variety of wildlife in the Masai Mara. Think hyena, big cats, jackals, water buffalo, elephants, antelope, warthogs, giraffe, zebra, hippos and baboons. All are plentiful and your guides have an uncanny knack of finding them.
Afternoons are spent at the pool, or the Masai may set up warrior training with the other children at camp. Learning how to make a fire with rubbing sticks and shoot bows and arrows will equip your kids with some valuable life lessons, or at least provide plenty of fun.
Today will start much the same as yesterday, with ample opportunities for game spotting. But first, hot chocolate and coffee are brought to the tent before dawn, the nicest of wake up calls! Breakfast may be taken on a scenic hilltop, and on the way back, if the kids want to stretch their legs, the guides may break out a game of beach cricket or build a sandcastle in a dry riverbed with little ones. You may wish to do a balloon safari one morning in place of the morning game drive, hovering over the Mara as the sun rises and the animals are active before the day heats up.
Today, you’ll say goodbye to the Mara and fly to the remote Mwiba Conservancy in the greater Serengeti. As your plane comes in to land, you may have do a couple of passes if there are giraffe on the runway. Your guide will greet you and transfer you to the lodge, maybe seeing some new lion cubs en route if you’re lucky.
Mwiba Lodge is a stunning example of safari-luxe style. Its copper pendants, monolithic fireplaces and exceptionally comfortable tents make it hard to leave for any activities. If your kids are ready for a break from game driving they can settle into the rockpool jacuzzi overlooking the river and watch the baboons at play for a while.
Wake early for a morning walking safari with the Hadzabe tribe: enchanting, fascinating and a little confronting. The Hadzabe are the last nomadic hunter-gatherer tribe in East Africa, numbering only around five hundred tribespeople. Mwiba is the only area they inhabit, and your scouts will see if they can find them before you set out. They will be delighted to meet you and you can walk with them as they find small game, tubers, birds and honeycomb – their traditional diet.
Each time nature delivers some bounty, they sing and dance. Your children will never forget this experience (although please note they are traditional hunters and this is not a tourist experience, so if your children are squeamish, exercise some caution). It’s worth a trip to Mwiba for this alone.
A lavish bush breakfast will be prepared after you leave the Hadzabe, which you may feel somewhat guilty about! Afternoon at leisure at the lodge, with an evening drive if desired.
Depending on the time of year, you may take a day drive out to the greater Serengeti to see the Wildebeest herds today as they make their way south to greener pastures for calving season. The sight of thousands of wildebeest grazing is quite spectacular, and if calving is taking place, there will also be plenty of predator activity.
The short flight to Lake Manyara over the pink and white salt flats of Lake Eyasi and the massive volcanic cliffs rising from it is truly spectacular.
You will be transferred to Chem Chem, passing local villages and markets. Chem Chem is home to the ”slow safari.” In the afternoon, walk down to the lake with your guides who will show you the minutiae of surrounding life – dung beetles rolling their gifts of love across the plains, scorpion nests and tiny Crimson Velvet Mites like miniscule red pom-poms. On arrival at the lake, you will find a portable bar set up solely for you. Have a gin and tonic as the sun goes down in a blaze of glory and the guides play soccer or frisbee across the salt flats with the kids.
Walk the “skull trail” with your guides, learn how to distinguish different tracks in the sand, and identify animals from their droppings, always a good opportunity for some juvenile humour. After a bush breakfast of freshly made pancakes, your children can take turns in the tracker’s seat out front of the jeep for a gentle game drive.
Try to visit Chem Chem’s sister camp, Little Chem Chem, adjacent to Tarangire National Park, driving through the Tarangire river for added excitement. On Lake Burunge you may see thousands of flamingos in its mirrored waters. Look for Omo, the rare white giraffe, on the way back to camp. If you are super lucky you may get a cuddle with Mongo-Choo and Kilimanjaro, two orphaned mongooses who are great favourites of staff and guests alike – the perfect end to an incredible wildlife experience in East Africa.
Today you’ll fly out for your stop. Whether that be homeward or a few days’ beach break – maybe on the white sands of Diani Beach, Lamu or Zanzibar – you’ll return with lifelong memories of your time in East Africa.
Ready for your own family adventure? Contact Riya to begin planning your East Africa safari.