African safaris surely make for an exciting and adventurous vacation. African countries like Tanzania, South Africa, Botswana, and many more are ideal safari destinations. Among the top is the country of Kenya. Kenyan fauna and flora are famed not only on the African continent but all over the world.
Naturally, many tourists flock to the country to enjoy authentic African safaris. These safaris are perfect for any type of traveller, including families.
Taking a family safari trip to Kenya is not only exciting but also enriching. It offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience that cannot be missed. If you are looking for safari books for kids in the Masai Mara, read on to find out how you can execute the perfect family Kenya safari.
Introduction to Kenya
Few countries can match Kenya and the gems it offers. It is filled with awe-inspiring vistas, displayed in its national parks, reserves, conservancies, and protected areas. These regions are also home to a diverse wildlife population.
On Kenyan safaris, one can spot a plethora of animals spread across their natural habitat. In Kenya, you can spot the iconic Big Five African animals, which consist of lions, leopards, cape buffalo, elephants, and rare rhinos.
Aside from these animals, several species of plain animals are also found. Alongside animals, birds also thrive in the country and are spotted in many parks and reserves. Kenya is a haven for naturalists as well as birders.
The best place to visit in Kenya is the Masai Mara.
Maasai Mara National Park is one of the exclusive parks for safaris. This park is premium not just in Kenya or the African continent but all around the world. While African parks like Kruger National Park in South Africa or the Serengeti in Tanzania are famous, the Masai Mara offers a different experience.
Masai Mara is located in the Great Rift Valley in the southern part of Kenya. It is named in honour of its ancestral inhabitants, the Maasais. In the local Maasai language, ‘mara’ means spotted because of the numerous short, bushy trees that are spread across the park’s landscape.
Safari books for kids Masai Mara considers this park the best for game viewing. Here, you can spot all kinds of animals, including the Big Five. The intersection of three rivers inside the park, the Mara, Talek, and Sand, attracts different wildlife. The most popular is the Mara River, which is home to a large number of hippos and dangerous Nile crocodiles.
The Masai Mara National Park is huge, measuring 1,510 km2. The massive Mara is divided into several other regions and areas, each known for its quality wildlife viewing. For a luxury safari holiday, you can even stay in Mara’s conservancies, which house sophisticated properties.
Since conservancies are private, many special facilities are offered to guests. These include nighttime game drives, walking safaris, and fly-in camping. The big four conservancies of the park are Mara North, Naboisho, Ol Kinyei, and Olare Motorogi.
Since these conservancies are situated in wildlife-rich areas, spotting rare and endangered species like rhinos and wild dogs becomes easier. Safari Books for Kids: Masai Mara suggests that staying in conservancies with your family can elevate your holiday to another level. To explore most of the Mara, consider staying in the park at least for 2 to 3 days.
The wildebeest migration
As stated above, there are many reasons to spend your holidays in the Masai Mara. But one that remains on top is to witness the wildebeest migration. Also known as the Great Migration, it is the biggest wildlife phenomenon orchestrated only in Kenya’s Masai Mara.
In this migration, millions of wildebeest herds travel a difficult journey. They start in Tanzania’s Serengeti and enter the Mara in the latter half of the year. Since Mara and Serengeti are adjacent parks and share their borders, they form the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem.
These wildebeest hold their annual migration by utilising this ecosystem. The wildebeest herds are joined by other hoofed animals during their journey. These include hundreds of zebras and a smaller number of gazelles, impalas, and elands. They migrate in search of food and water to survive. They look for land that provides fertile grass for nourishment.
While there is no clear explanation of how the wildebeest plan their migration, some research suggests that the wildebeest, in fact, follow the weather and overall climatic conditions. This migration also displays an interesting interplay between predatory animals and the wildebeest.
The wildebeest migration is best seen in the Masai Mara. It is a special sight to witness millions of wildebeest herds grazing right next to your safari vehicle. One of the main events showcased by the migration that is also anticipated by travellers is the Mara River crossing.
It is one of the best places to watch and observe the migratory animals and their struggles to reach the Mara. The Mara River runs through the park and lies directly in the path of the great migration. So, the river crossing becomes visible from the park.
The Mara River crossing is a thrilling event to watch as the migratory animals attempt to cross the river while Nile crocodiles are on the lookout. Although the great migration is a thrilling event to see, Safari Books for Kids Masai Mara suggests that bringing kids aged 10 and above rather than younger ones to watch the migration and the Mara river crossing is preferable.
Are kids allowed on the Masai Mara safari?
Typically, different national reserves and parks have their own rules when it comes to kids and safaris. They might not accept children under the age of 8, but some even extend the age limitation as high as 12. This age limit on safaris is established for safety reasons.
The same age limitations are set by camps and lodges as well. The accommodations in Masai Mara and the reserve itself welcome children of nearly all ages. But some may have age restrictions. If you have booked directly, it is advised to check the relevant child policy with the respective camps and lodges.
What is the best age to take a child on a safari?
There is no set age that determines when you can take your children on safari, as it depends on various factors, like parents and safari operators. You can start taking your young ones on safaris as soon as they turn 6, since many of the camps and lodges welcome kids that age. Many safari operators recommend that starting at age 8 may be the best age to take your kids on safaris.
This should be taken into consideration, especially when the child becomes patient and mature. But a much better age to start exposing your children to safaris is at the age of 12. Since tweens and teens may show interest in nature as well as sit through game drives, the vacation turns out to be more enjoyable.
Can a six-year-old go on a safari?
Since there is no official age limit for taking kids on safaris, it still depends on many factors. Remember that the safaris take place in the middle of the African savannah, far away from cities. So, parents must bring with them all the supplies needed.
Although lodges and camps offer various amenities, it is better to carry all the stuff your child requires, such as prams, nappies, plenty of clothes, sunscreen, formula, and so on, depending on the age. In Safari Books for Kids: Masai Mara, the Mara is ideal for bringing young kids because you may not have to move from one place to another. Since this park has everything, kids can enjoy the routine and avoid disruption.
Is an African safari safe for kids?
When it comes to safety, living in a well-established apartment is highly recommended. But since safaris are supposed to take place in the open, there can be some precautions parents need to be mindful of.
For starters, malaria zones must be strictly avoided if young kids cannot take malaria prophylactics. Look for places to visit that are declared malaria-free zones. You’ll also have to look into vaccinations against yellow fever.
Many of the private camps and lodges may be unfenced, so animals wander in easily. Kids can get startled and frightened by this. Look out for amenities like swimming pools in the lodges and camps you’ve chosen, as these pools can be deep for kids.
Moreover, you have to be ready in case any situation arises, as there is a restricted supply during safaris. Toddlers may get irritated and annoyed with the dusty and bumpy roads and hot weather conditions. They will also have to adapt to the safari schedules, which require early morning game drives. Other than these conditions, African safaris are generally safe for kids.
How to make the most of safari with kids
Book private game drives and camps.
If you’d like to enjoy safaris without any hassle, Safari Books for Kids Masai Mara suggests you book private game-drive vehicles. This way, you have the entire Jeep to yourself and even a flexible schedule. So, when your children start feeling tired, you can get back to the camp without bothering other guests. It will ensure that you enjoy safaris without worrying too much.
You can also book private houses that are situated in conservancies that border Mara. As these houses are booked exclusively and come with their own team of staff that looks after families, you will have the ultimate private Masai Mara safari experience.
Many lodges and camps have children’s programmes to keep them engaged in interesting activities. These range from nature activities to pottery, crafts, and simple games. Some of the camps and lodges may even have professional childminders and babysitters to take care of children while the parents can enjoy game drives away.
They can also take time for themselves. Children can partake in wildlife tracking and educate themselves. The Maasai people are extremely kid-friendly and ensure that children learn while also enjoying their time in the Mara.
Fly on safari.
Driving from Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, to the Masai Mara is a long drive. The journey can also be bumpy at times. Toddlers and young children can become agitated during such a long drive. Safari Books for Kids Masai Mara advises parents to opt for a fly-in safari.
This is the easiest option and involves a short journey. Fly-in safaris involve short flights or scheduled chartered planes that depart from Nairobi. They land at airstrips built in conservancies or the main reserve, depending on the accommodation you have chosen. This way, you can save time and embark on game drives as soon as possible.
Add other destinations to your itinerary.
The Masai Mara can fulfil your dream safari adventure. After completing your trip in the Masai Mara, you can travel to Tanzania’s Ngorongoro. The Mara-Serengeti-Ngorongoro itinerary is among the most popular and offers a beautiful experience in the dormant crater. In the Serengeti, you can enjoy many relaxing safaris.
If you’d like to explore the city, Nairobi has top hotels that are kid-friendly as well. The city has both modern and natural landscapes and sites. One can visit the giraffe centre and live in the fascinating Giraffe Manor. For a quick day trip, you can go to Nairobi National Park, which houses major animals as well.
If you want to truly elevate your vacation, you can add a beach destination at the end of your itinerary. After completing your bush adventures, you can relax at Kenya’s best beaches and enjoy the stunning shorelines surrounded by the Indian Ocean.
Mombasa Islands in Kenya are home to the cleanest and most beautiful beaches. They have beachfront resorts that are kid-friendly. There are many water sports activities and centres where you can explore Kenyan marine life.
When to visit Masai Mara
Masai Mara is a year-round destination, meaning you will experience quality wildlife viewing whenever you go. Each season brings something new for travellers to see. However, the best months to visit the Mara are from July to October.
This peak season offers not only the best game viewing but also displays the wildebeest migration. The Mara River crossing also takes place in the same months. During this period, you can witness predator-prey action and wildebeest entering the Mara in large herds. However, if you’d like to see the Great Migration when crowds are smaller, consider late September or October.
It is usually recommended to avoid the off-season, which starts in late March and ends in May. These months bring heavy downpours and floods, which cause camps and lodges to shut down. It also becomes difficult to go on game drives and track the wildebeest migration.
Masai Mara is the top place to visit with families involving young children. Safari Books for Kids: Masai Mara also suggests the same. If you want to plan and execute your ideal safari vacation, get in touch with a company specialising in Masai Mara vacations. Experts in the company can guide and advise you about the itinerary and how to enjoy the trip to the fullest with your kids.