Michele, Timo & Aurelie on Safari in Kenya

Travelling with a Toddler in Kenya

Our tried-and-tested tips for a stress-free safari

One of the most common hesitations we hear from parents considering whether to travel with small children is,
..“But they’re never going to remember it!”

To this, we say – it’s something that you will remember as a family highlight for the rest of your life!
On top of that, it will positively impact your little one’s development + you’ll have incredible family photos! 

Our daughter, Aurélie, was just one-and-a-half when we embarked on our ‘wild parenting’ safari in Kenya.
She wasn’t even the youngest traveler we encountered whilst there, that prize went to a three-week-old we met at Emboo Camp. 

While traveling with a toddler is easier than you probably think (yes, even in Africa), there are some small things that can make a big difference: 

Don’t overdo the packing – you’d be surprised by how much you can get in Kenya – including diapers, and all the same formula brands available worldwide. 

A game-changer for us was booking a night flight, so that Aurelie could sleep on the plane. Having a young child at the airport is actually a perk, as you can often skip the queue! Also when we took the direct flight from Nanyuki, near The Safari Series in Lolldaiga Hills Private Game Reserve to Emboo Camp in the Maasai Mara, Aurélie was delighted to be able to sit up front, next to the pilot.  

Once on Kenyan soil, plan your car trips or transfers for a maximum of three hours. Most toddlers are fine sitting for this long, but start getting wiggly for anything longer. Just remember to order a car seat in advance, as this isn’t something that Kenyans typically use! 🙂

As for game drives, Aurélie soon became very comfortable on the Land Rovers and Land Cruisers,  simply making a little nest on the back or front to sleep when she got tired of the game viewing.

A fun thing you must know is that as soon as you arrive at your destination, everyone’s focus will be on your child! So you’ll have lots of support wherever needed from the very helpful and friendly African staff! This kind of attention and affection from strangers is also great for raising a confident, sociable child we find. 

At the sustainable and socially-conscious Emboo, the female rangers Emily and Nas immediately became Aurélie’s caring Kenyan sisters at this unique home-away-from-home. At the family-friendly Safari Series, she made fast friends with an amazing ranger, James, who showed her his traditional Samburu outfits and let her drive the Land Rover on his lap even! 

Another highlight for Aurélie here was the makeshift ‘bathtub’ the lodge staff created for her from a bucket strategically placed outside on the deck of the tent, where bathing under the stars was a great adventure for her. 

The biggest adventure of all, though, was seeing the incredible wildlife for the very first time. A highlight for us all was Aurélie’s close encounter with a giraffe, which gazed at her through a window at the exclusive Giraffe Manor Boutique Hotel in Nairobi. It’s no surprise that this destination needs to be booked at least a year in advance, especially for those wanting to travel during the school holidays. 

The last (but certainly not least) place we stayed that was perfect for Aurélie was ZumZum Beachhouse, the spectacular private beach house on Diani Beach

With its 28 km of soft, white sand and slow, gentle ocean, Diani Beach was the perfect place for Aurélie to learn to swim. She also figured out pretty quickly where coconuts come from, and would point up the palm trees and say ‘num num’ whenever she wanted one! 

Back at the beach house, dedicated staff are available to assist with everything you need from 06:00 to 18:00 everyday. After that, you have the privacy of the place to yourself for the evening. Breakfast and lunch are prepared for you each day, and there are a myriad of wonderful restaurants on the beach itself (either within walking or easy tuk tuk distance). As Diani Beach is a single strip, it’s easy to find your way around. 

Four restaurants we particularly enjoyed were The Salty Squid Beach Bar and Restaurant, Nomad Beach Bar and Restaurant, Ali Barbour’s Cave Restaurant, and Tiki Bar – all of which have everything that you and your child could want! 

We were at ZumZum on Valentine’s Day, and the lovely manager suggested that they babysit Aurelie so we could go out for the night. We ended up having a wonderfully romantic evening, and are so grateful for this above-and-beyond gesture! We were also able to relax on the other evenings, as an ‘askari’ (Swahili for security guard) was stationed outside the room, listening in through the canvas to let us know if Aurelie woke up at any point. The cherry on the top of an all-round family-friendly experience! 

Inspired to plan your own unforgettable, all-ages getaway to Kenya?

Contact us to discuss your unique dreams and needs!