The African bush is the finest natural family playground you can imagine — endless rolling plains, grasslands, forests, and lakes that are home to some of nature’s most amazing wonders.
Get right up close to the Big Five, hear the lion roars in the distance, witness the world’s largest land migration, and engage in thrilling activities that give new meaning to family bonding.
With these family-oriented guides at your side, you will be able to discover the highlights of Kenya and Tanzania and enjoy a superb family safari experience with your family.
Best 7 Family Safari Guides for your Dream African Adventure
Guide 1: What to Pack
A safari trip is a vacation unlike any other and you will be spending a lot of time with nature so be sure to pack comfortable clothing.
Depending on when you intend to visit and the kind of activities you plan to participate in, consider bringing some jackets for the night and early morning chill in Africa.
As for the kids, there really isn’t anything special to pack unless they have special needs or personal preferences. Things to pack include
- Comfortable closed shoes
- Sunscreen and sunglasses
- Binoculars and camera
- Mosquito repellant or bug spray
- Anti Malaria tablets
You can also ask your safari tour operator for any additional items to pack to make your journey more comfortable and enjoyable. Plan for at least 5 full days excluding international flights so it will not feel too much like a rushed vacation. The ideal timeframe for an African safari is 10-14 days because it might feel too tiring to the young ones if the duration is shorter.
Guide 2: Getting There
There are several flights from all over the world to Tanzania and Kenya, but Tanzania is the more expensive to fly to between the two.
That’s why many travelers opt to book a flight via the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and then take a connecting flight to the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Since a lot of airlines, including Kenya Airways, Etihad, KLM, Delta, Emirates, and Turkish Airlines travel to Kenya, competition is high and airfares are relatively cheaper.
When it comes to flight duration, travel to Tanzania or Kenya is around 15 hours from the US and about 8 hours from Europe.
While not the most convenient, another option is to travel by bus from Nairobi to Tanzania. The journey lasts around 3 hours and offers more intimate views into the culture and lifestyles of the local people of both countries.
Both Kenya and Tanzania require tourist visas but they also offer visa on arrival for many nationalities. Nevertheless, you should also visit the nearest embassy or high commission of the country you choose as your first port of entry to get updated on the current entry guidelines.
General requirements for each family member include:
- Valid passport with up to 6 months
- At least two blank pages on passport
- Proof of yellow fever immunizations
- There might also be currency restrictions
Guide 3: Getting Around
Your family safari tour operator should handle your local transportation and transfers from the airport to the safari parks or your hotel.
In the parks, safari game drives are usually conducted in 4×4 open Land Rovers which can accommodate up to 10 people so you and your family can enjoy an authentic African bush experience.
On money matters, the US Dollar is a universal currency and widely accepted in both countries although $100 bills can be difficult to change, so it’s better to take plenty of smaller bills.
Nowadays, most parks, camps, and lodges accept credit cards like Visa and Mastercard, but it still pays to have some cash in hand.
Guide 4: Best Times to Visit
Kenya and Tanzania are year-round destinations, offering spectacular sightings and adventures every season, but if you and your family are visiting solely for game viewing in safaris, then the best time to visit is during the dry season.
This is between June and October when the animals are easier to spot since the usually green and lush vegetation will have receded due to the lack of rainfall.
December to February is also an excellent period for a visit; this is the calving season of the Great Migration, where hundreds of thousands of wildebeest are born every day.
Rainfall is unpredictable, but usually, just short light showers that still allow you to go out and marvel at the wonders of nature before you.
April and May are best avoided for safari tours as these months represent the climax of the rainy season in East Africa and the vegetation grows wild, while bush roads become impassable.
Guide 5: Accommodation Options
From hotels and lodges to resorts and tented bush camps, accommodation options vary depending on your style and budget. Obviously, you’ll want to opt for accommodation that is child or infant friendly, with sleeping cots and carriages in the rooms and child seats in vehicles.
To ensure a fully engaging vacation, your choice of dwelling should also have a series of fun activities that cater to kids. Some facilities can easily arrange for adjoining rooms to accommodate you and your family, as well as provide additional beds.
You can check online for safari lodges or camps that offer family rooms or simply inform your tour operator that you will be traveling as a family and they will shortlist the available options in each country.
In terms of food, most of the meals are served buffet-style and come in several options, including vegetarian. Just make sure to inform them ahead if you have any food allergies or preferences.
Family picnics and bush breakfasts can also be included in your itinerary and can even be served slightly earlier (as early as 12 noon and 6.30 pm) – to suit your children’s schedules.
Guide 6: Family-Friendly Safari Parks and Activities
There are a lot of places to visit in each country where you and your family can enjoy a truly exciting and authentic safari experience. Here are the top five attractions that are recommended for families:
Family Safari in Tanzania
Serengeti National Park — The Serengeti is home to magnificent wildlife, jaw-dropping landscapes, and adrenaline-pumping activities. Aside from the “Big Five” (African elephant. Black rhinoceros, Cape buffalo, African lion, and African leopard), and the annual Great Wildebeest Migration, you can also spot giraffes, gazelles, zebras, cheetahs, and hundreds of bird species during your game drives. You can also get a bird’s eye view of the park with a balloon safari, an hour long ride through the air with your family that will definitely be one of the highlights of your safari adventure.
Ngorongoro Conservation — The is an absolute must-experience destination in Tanzania with the main attraction being the main Ngorongoro crater, a massive, unbroken volcanic caldera filled with an unbelievable array of wildlife, such as lions, hippos, leopards, elephants, and rhinos. Coming here with your family is a great experience because all the animals live in this “confined” space and are easy to spot without extensive tracking.
Lake Manyara National Park — Located on the edge of the Rift Valley, Lake Manyara National Park boasts a wealth of wildlife, varied ecosystems and breathtaking scenery, comprising ground water forests, acacia woodlands, and open grasslands. The lake itself plays host to thousands of flamingos, as well as other large water birds like pelicans, cormorants and storks so get your cameras ready. Areas inside and outside the park have also become a hub for active thrill seekers where many stop over to enjoy activities such as abseiling, canoeing, mountain biking, horse riding, and nature walk safaris.
Arusha National Park — There’s nowhere else on the continent that the transition between a bustling city landscape and a pristine mountainous landscape is as abrupt as it in this park. Largely dominated by the imposing Mt. Meru, Arusha National Park is one of the most beautiful wildlife parks in Tanzania and is home to the planet’s largest population of African giraffes.
Zanzibar — If you have enough time on your schedule, make sure to include a trip to Zanzibar in your itinerary. It features lovely east-coast beaches with soft sand and gentle waters that offer a perfect way to end the perfect family safari in Tanzania. Aside from the luxurious R & R, you can also explore the famously ancient and astonishing Stone Town, a town steeped in rich history and cultural diversity. There are lots of family-friendly accommodation options in Zanzibar so you and your family are bound to have an enjoyable time.
Family Safari in Kenya
Masai Mara National Reserve — A family safari in the heart of the Masai Mara is an unforgettable experience. There’s a ton of activities for the entire family, new memories to make, and opportunities to learn and grow together. Explore the unspoilt wilderness and awesome wildlife with the family on your own terms and take as many pictures as you possibly can. The Great Migration also passes through this area. Many tour operators offer tailor-made itineraries, taking into consideration the age of your children and any special interests or requests.
Amboseli National Park — Located in an ecosystem that spans across the Kenya-Tanzania border, Amboseli National Park boasts some of the best views of Mount Kilimanjaro as well as up close encounters with free-ranging elephants. Other animals to see include buffalo, cheetah, hyenas, impalas, lions, wildebeest, and zebra. This park also features a stunning backdrop that has famously graced many postcards and background images of Kenya.
Giraffe Manor — Who doesn’t want to meet one these graceful Rothschild’s giraffes? These leggy creatures may visit during breakfast or in the evenings, sometimes poking their long necks into the windows hoping for a treat, before retreating to their forest sanctuary. It’s usually an enjoyable sight and activity for the whole family. You can book the manor for the night or include it in your itinerary.
Elephant Orphanage — Located in a secluded area of the Nairobi National Park, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust offers a day well spent with orphaned baby Elephants, as well as black and white rhino calves and adults.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy — Discover the unspoilt wilderness of this conservancy with your family under the watchful eye of Mount Kenya. Ol Pejeta is famous for pioneering conservation projects and serves as a refuge for the last two northern white rhino remaining on the planet. It is the only place in the region where you can see chimpanzee and is also the largest black rhino sanctuary in the whole of East Africa. It promises to be a rich and educational experience for the family as the conservancy is also home to the Big Five and over 200 migrant and resident bird species.
Guide 7: Safety in the African Bush
Since this is new terrain for you and your family, it is important to know what to do when you are in the wild. Follow these safety rules during your safari tour:
- Always listen to your guide
- Zip up your tent and do not take food into it especially at night
- When out on game drives don’t be too noisy or make sudden movements
- Stay inside the vehicle at all times and consult your guide or driver before making an unscheduled stop
- Don’t mess with baboons
- It is not advisable to walk around at night and if you must walk around, then and make sure you are escorted at all times
Other Helpful Tips
A family trip to Kenya or Tanzania, or both, is something that will require a lot of planning to be sure to allot ample time. Brainstorm with the entire family for ideas and preferences and start making necessary arrangements.
Are there specific sights you want to see as a family, perhaps pride of lions or a variety of birds? List all the considerations and tailor your safari around them.
Remember to also book early. Some safari attractions, like the Great Migration, are known across the world, so camps and lodges are quickly booked during the peak seasons. If you’d rather control your travel time and itinerary, then go for a private safari. These establishments also offer game drives at night, perfect for seeing the African animals that only come out at night.
Your safari plan will go a long way in helping you streamline the hundreds of tour operators out there until you make a final decision. Most of them will offer tailor-made itineraries so it’s often a matter of which ones suit your budget and style. Look also at the reviews of each company before choosing so you can have better peace of mind.
For more information on a family safari in Kenya and Tanzania, give us a ring or fill out our contact form for a quick chat.