Because Kenya has so many spectacular nature reserves, national parks, and beautiful beaches, it naturally makes sense to want to bring your children along on an adventure there. This can be a daunting task, worries about what to bring, how to move around, and if it is safe can make planning a trip to Kenya for the whole family a bit stressful. However, the benefits of allowing your children to experience Kenya and all it has to offer definitely are worth the extra planning in advance. Here are some tips for a great family getaway to Kenya.
Kenya visa application
Luckily, children up to 16 years old do not need a visa When travelling to Kenya, so it is simply a matter of obtaining one for the older family members. Travellers above the age of 16 can apply for a Kenya e-visa online. This means no trips to embassies or consulates are necessary. The cost of the visa is £74.95 per person. The Kenya visa takes about one week to be processed and received, but it is possible to shorten that time to about two days with an urgent application.
Vaccinations and health
It is most definitely necessary to obtain certain vaccinations when travelling to Kenya. The DTP (or TDP) vaccination is mandatory and depending on where you travel from, you may also have to provide proof of Yellow Fever vaccination. This vaccine lasts a lifetime, so boosters are not needed. If unsure about what is needed, it is possible to check with your governmentʼs travel advisories to see what is necessary for you. Sometimes upon arrival in Kenya, you will be asked to show documentation of yellow fever vaccination, so it is important to know if this is necessary for you and your family and have the proper paperwork handy during travel.
It is strongly recommended carrying malaria pills with you, and child-friendly tablets are available. It is important to make sure the particular tablets you are giving are child-friendly and are given according to weight. Malarone and Lariam are allowed to be given to children, but always check with your paediatrician to make sure what is right for your family.
It is advised to purchase these before you travel and make sure you purchase with a trusted pharmacy because there are cases of fake medications being sold in high tourism spots. Sometimes you may have to begin taking them before travelling.
Avoid mosquito bites
Malaria and many other diseases are transmitted through mosquito bites, so it is imperative that you take as many steps as possible to avoid being bitten. Using insect repellant that contains DEET on exposed skin is an important step for avoiding bites. It is best to make sure the repellant has 50% DEET. The UK malaria prevention guidelines do mention that DEET can be safely used on children over 2 months old. Many people use mosquito nets to sleep at night. There are also versions of these nets that can cover prams for when you are out and about.
Drive or fly between destinations
A common travel itinerary is to fly into Nairobi and then travel onwards to Masai Mara to go on safari. There are many debates to be had over whether to fly to Masai Mara or to drive. Obviously, when travelling with a large family, driving becomes the cheaper option. But the drive can be bumpy and hazardous, as well as quite long, where flying is much faster.
The decision then becomes more about your own family and what is best for you. If your children are good sports about long car rides, and you are feeling adventurous, then driving might be the best option. But if getting there faster and enjoying more quickly sounds more appealing, then flying may just be the right choice for you.
If you do choose to drive, there are several ways to make the trip more manageable with children. Consider stopping half way overnight and incorporating the travel itself as part of the fun. There are many places to stop for a night that offer their own attractions, such as Mount Suswa Conservancy and Lake Naivasha.
Another thing to consider is hiring a driver. Although the infrastructure for tourism has greatly improved over time, it is still something to consider as there is a lot of wildlife and nature that can be unfamiliar. This makes the drive much safer and everyone can enjoy the views. The average cost of a driver can be around 120 - 150 USD per day, and usually includes fuel, etc.
It is also advisable to consider looking into either bringing a travel car seat, or renting or buying one upon arrival. Because of the long distances between must-see attractions, being in a car is inevitable.
Activities with children in Kenya
Not all the planning has to be stressful. You can also plan for downtime and fun activities that the whole family will enjoy.
There are plenty of child-friendly activities that can be enjoyed throughout the country. Visits to places like Diani Beach can provide for some fun yet relaxing moments. There are plenty of options from regular beach side hotels, to all-inclusive resorts with child-friendly pools to make sure you rest between safaris and more active days.
Safaris and Conservation sites
There are plenty of places and services to go on safari that allow children and make sure they have fun. Usually the drivers are friendly and travelling around the wildlife preserves offer amazing moments and beautiful scenery, so your children will have plenty of fun. There are also walking safaris available where you may not see lion, but you will see animals like giraffes, zebras, buffalo, and hippos.
The conservation sites are also a special place for children to experience the animals on a more up close basis. Some conservation sites offer chances to feed giraffes, as well as other possibilities to have one on one moments that will amaze children of all ages. As for the older children, these sites can be an important lesson on the importance of conservation and protecting wildlife and nature.