Where to stay in Kenya
With its well-developed tourist industry Kenya has a fantastic range of safari camps and lodges. These vary from smaller tented camps with just a handful of guests to larger lodges with extensive facilities (sometimes including a pool). Children will generally love spending at least a couple of nights under canvas in a tented camp. Banish any thoughts of camping as you might know it from home. Here in Kenya you will be in a spacious tent with a proper bed, crisp white linen and private en-suite facilities.
Some of the tented camps are supremely luxurious with antique explorer-style furnishings and brightly coloured woven rugs all lit at night with kerosene lanterns. This is real ‘Out of Africa’ stuff and the children will be enthralled listening to the sounds of the wild at night and enjoying an evening under the stars around the campfire.
We generally find that it works well to vary the accommodation during the tour using a mixture of both lodges and tented camps. We will always suggest places that will suit your family, bearing in mind the ages and interests of your children. This might mean a lodge with a pool or extensive gardens for younger children to run around. Alternatively older children will love a tented camp where the Masai staff will teach them to track animals and use a bow and arrow.
What is a typical Kenyan lodge like?
One of our favourite places to stay in Kenya is Dea’s Gardens near Lake Naivasha. This is not a luxury hotel by any stretch of the imagination but it is wonderfully charming and just about the perfect family lodge. There are extensive gardens, which are beautifully looked after and in season are packed with a profusion of flowers that attract birds and butterflies.
Older children will love the pool whilst younger ones will have to be dragged away from the trampoline and sandpit which belong to Dea’s grandson but which everyone is welcome to use! In the afternoon you can help the cook pick fresh herbs and vegetables from the garden that will then be used for dinner, or borrow a book from the library and find a quiet corner.
How do high-end and mid-range tented camps compare?
We recommend that all families spend at least a night or two in a tented camp. The ideal place to do this is in the Masai Mara where there is a huge variety of camps spread across the plains.
Families on a smaller budget might enjoy Ol Moran Tented Camp, which provides a comfortable base on the banks of the Ololaimutia River where elephant and buffalo come to drink. There are only 15 tents here, each set within a well-manicured garden that is fenced so there is no chance of nocturnal visitors. Facilities are simple but the camp is in a good location near the entrance to the national park (which keeps driving to a minimum) and the staff are very accommodating to children.
If you have a higher budget, the Basecamp Mara is a wonderful option. Set in a private conservancy on the edge of the Masai Mara, one of the great attractions of this camp is that it allows you exclusive access to the conservancy. This makes for phenomenal wildlife viewing as there is a huge range of wildlife here but very few other people.
The camp itself is also very comfortable, with 12 individual tents built on elevated wooden platforms on the edge of the Talek River. Each has its own porch with lovely views over the river towards the Masai Mara and you will wake each morning to bird song or perhaps the grunt of a hippo in the river below.
For a real treat you could look at the Kicheche Mara Camp, an exclusive East African safari camp hidden in an acacia valley overlooking the Olare Orok Stream. With just 8 tents, each lovingly furnished with brightly coloured rugs, beautiful wooden furniture and sublime views, this is luxury camping at its finest.
In the evening help yourselves to board games from the library or enjoy a G and T from the verandah of your tent, overlooking the plains. Again this camp is located in an exclusive conservancy so you will enjoy superb game viewing in a beautiful private wilderness area.
These are just a few examples of places to stay in Kenya that past travellers have loved. All our holidays are tailor-made, so once we have found out a bit more about you and your family, we will suggest a range of properties that we think will suit you best. Get in touch for firsthand advice on all aspects of family safaris in Kenya.
What is a private conservancy?
One thing to bear in mind when selecting safari accommodation in Kenya is the existence of private conservancies bordering the main national parks. In most cases the conservancies are privately owned by local people, who then lease the land to small exclusive tented camps. The lease requires that no grazing or agriculture can take place on the land so that it returns to its original state.
As the borders with the neighbouring national parks are not fenced, in time the animals start to extend into the conservancies. There is therefore an abundance of wildlife but the only people allowed on safari here are those staying in the on-site tented camps. This offers a much more intimate safari experience without the crowds.
Another bonus is that the conservancies offer a wider range of activities including night safaris, walking safaris and off-road safaris, none of which are allowing in the national parks themselves.
These camps are more expensive so will only be recommended for those on a higher budget.
Call us and we will be happy to provide you with a free-of-charge no obligation itinerary and quotation designed for you.
Kenya in pictures
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