Kenya is East Africa’s top choice when it comes to doing a wildlife safari with kids.
Prices are reasonable, Kenyan culture is very child-friendly, the weather is perfect and there is just so much to do. Whether it’s marveling at an elephant in Amboseli National Park, seeing giraffes up close on the outskirts of Nairobi, relaxing on white sand beaches around Watamu, bouncing along in a wooden donkey cart on Lamu Island, or learning about the Maasai community while exploring the Masai Mara.
If you’re considering an African adventure and are wondering how it will go over with your kids, don’t hesitate for a minute – it’s almost guaranteed that your children (and you) will love Kenya.
What makes Kenya good for kids?
The short answer is: almost everything. Kenya is a wonderful destination for kids of all ages. With highlights ranging from sailing on a dhow (traditional sailboat) and spotting wildlife to trekking on Mt Kenya, your biggest challenge will likely be figuring out how to fit in everything you’d like to do.
In Nairobi, healthcare is excellent and supermarkets are well stocked, so you’ll have no trouble finding nappies, formula milk, bottled water and baby food.
While there are few child-specific amenities, some hotels and restaurants have baby-changing stations, and in places that don’t, it’s usually easy to find a quiet corner. The brightly-colored kanga, kikoi and other textiles that you’ll see everywhere are lightweight and handy to take along as a ground cover for baby-changing.
If you’re traveling with a baby, you can also use them as wraps to carry your teeny traveler, Kenyan-style, on your back – a much better option than a stroller, which isn’t practical due to uneven and often non-existent sidewalks in most areas.
For getting around, ride-hailing apps like Uber are a good choice in Nairobi and Mombasa, as are private taxis. Family-friendly options for traveling to destinations elsewhere in the country include arranging transport through your safari company, hiring a private car with a driver, or hiring a self-drive rental car.
If renting, don’t forget to confirm child seat availability in advance. For adventurous kids and parents, there are also long-distance buses, and – for travel between Nairobi and Mombasa (including stops for Amboseli and Tsavo parks) – there’s the train.
Where are the best places to visit in Kenya with kids?
If you’re in Kenya for the wildlife, there’s no better place to start than Nairobi National Park, just outside the capital, before heading southeast and southwest to some of the larger parks.
There are so many spots to choose from for beaches and coastal fun, including around Wasini, Diani, Watamu and Lamu. History enthusiasts will enjoy the museums in Nairobi and Lamu. For active adventures, older teens may enjoy trekking on Mt Kenya, and then there’s mountain biking, rafting and hiking within easy reach of the capital and further afield.
Best things to do in Kenya with babies and toddlers
Nairobi’s Giraffe Centre is an easy introduction to Kenya’s wildlife for young children. The giraffes are active throughout the day, and there are many opportunities to see them up close and to feed them.
On the coast, the beaches are all wonderful family destinations, with those around Diani and Watamu among the best-suited for babies and toddlers. The vistas are lovely, there are several areas offering sheltered water, most of the beachside resorts have swimming pools, and the soft sand is perfect for playing in and building sand castles.
Best things to do in Kenya with kids
Start in Nairobi with a visit to Nairobi National Park, where animal-spotting is practically guaranteed. While here, don’t miss the chance to feed orphaned elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.
In coastal Watamu, the comfortably faded Turtle Bay Beach Club has long been a favorite with kids and their parents, as are the glass-bottom boat rides at Diani Beach.
Getting acquainted with Maasai culture is another highlight. Apart from the many Maasai people you will meet while traveling around, there are opportunities for kids to visit a Maasai village and learn about traditional customs, including at the family-friendly Oldarpoi Mara Camp.
Best things to do in Kenya with tweens and teens
Bush walks, night game drives and the safari experience in general are just some of the many highlights available for tweens and teens. Favorite family wildlife destinations include the Masai Mara, Amboseli, Lake Nakuru and Ol Pejeta.
Older, adventurous teens can challenge themselves by trekking on Mt Kenya, mountain biking and river rafting. Savage Wilderness is a great option as their experts organize cycling excursions, including around the Masai Mara, for riders from 12 years of age and up, as well as rafting and kayaking.
For something slightly more chill, tweens and teens can go snorkeling at Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park & Reserve, try a SUP around Watamu, or head to Lamu Island for a relaxed introduction to Swahili culture, including a stop at the worthwhile Lamu Museum. Back in Nairobi, Nairobi National Museum is well worth a visit, especially the historical exhibits.
As of 2024, travel to Kenya will be visa-free for all citizens of African countries. For other nationalities, visas must be applied for in advance through the Kenyan government’s e-portal. Children under 16 don’t require a visa but must carry a valid passport and be registered on their parent’s application.
Some lodges and camps in wildlife areas have restrictions on accommodating young children, so check before booking. For those that do accommodate families, always ask about discounts for kids.
You’ll be able to pick up most things in Nairobi, but it’s worth bringing child-friendly insect repellent from home, plus a light jacket, especially for travel away from the coast.