10 Best Family Safaris in East Africa

Of all the destinations in the world, I'll wager that Africa offers the best family vacations. Where else can you see the beloved creatures that inspired a dozen Disney movies, or pack healthy fun in the great outdoors into once-in-a-lifetime, child-friendly itineraries?

A family safari in East Africa offers a range of adventure activities in luxury lodges and private safari villas, geared for family vacations plus plenty of attractions to please everyone: mom and dad, children, grandparents, and even teenagers.

The variety and novelty of a family vacation in East Africa provides a rich setting for you to reconnect with each other and a wonderful way for children to learn about nature, encounter completely different cultures and see wild animals close up in their natural habitat. We know because we've been going on safari with our families since 1998.

What You Need to Know

What You Need to Know About a Family Safari

Walking with a Maasai guide at Topi Mara Bush House.

When it comes to giving you expert travel advice, we don’t sugar-coat what you need to consider. An East African safari vacation should be about making family memories and having unforgettable experiences – not dealing with challenges. Our Africa Safari Experts always put your family’s safety and comfort first and – because we are independent travel advisors – we never recommend any location, lodge or activity that we’d consider unsuitable for our own families.

Where you go and what you do on your East Africa family vacation is mostly determined by the ages of your children:

Under 8 years: East Africa is a malaria area and we don’t recommend taking young children into areas where malaria is a risk. For the best family vacations for under-8s, we recommend South Africa’s malaria-free reserves.

8 – 12 years: Ideally, choose a lodge that offers closed or private vehicles, a junior ranger programme, and has professional guides who enjoy sharing the wilderness with youngsters. Under-12s will love the excitement of nature walks, learning basic tracking skills and picnics in the bush.

13 – 18 years: Teens are mature enough to join you for game drives in classic open safari vehicles. If you have a sensitive teen, it’s a good idea to discuss the possibility of witnessing dramatic predator-prey interactions on game drives, especially in the Masai Mara or Serengeti during the Great Wildebeest Migration. It’s important that your teen understands that nature is all about balance, where hunters and prey are a necessary and a normal part of the cycle of life. We recommend choosing lodges that offer multiple activities like walking, boating, cycling or horseback riding as well as game drives.

Top Family Experiences

Top Family Safari Vacation Experiences in East Africa

The Giraffe Manor, Kenya

  1. Feeding Rothschild’s giraffes at Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya: who doesn’t want to meet one these graceful, leggy creatures over breakfast in a beautiful manor house?
  2. Visiting the Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya: meet cheeky little elephants from all over Africa at this incredible orphanage where they are being carefully prepared to return to life in the wild.
  3. Visiting Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary (Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Kenya): a collaboration between the Jane Goodall Institute and Kenya Wildlife Services, offering a safe, natural refuge to about 40 chimps from across Africa.
  4. Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa's highest peak and, thanks to its comfortable trekking routes to the summit, the most-climbed mountain in the world. None of the routes to the top require technical climbing skills making Kilimanjaro an ideal and incredible family adventure for kids over 12.
  5. Gorilla trekking in Uganda's Bwindi Impenetrable Forest and Rwanda's Volcanoes National Park can be a life-changing experience – living in close-knit family groups like human families, gorillas display many of our emotional gestures from affection to delight, surprise and even sibling squabbles.

The Daphne Sheldrick Elephant Orphanage, Kenya

Popular Lodges & Camps

Popular Family Safari Lodges & Camps in East Africa

Youngsters on safari with Acacia Mara Bush House.

  1. Bateleur Camp (Kenya) offers Big 5 game viewing (including the Wildebeest Migration) plus guided bush walks, night drives, early morning hot-air balloon flights and, best of all, the fantastic WILDchild program with specially trained rangers and child-centered activities around conservation and local culture.
  2. Solio Lodge (Kenya) is a small and intimate camp on a private ranch overlooking dramatic scenery. This lodge welcomes children and offers both day and night game drives plus guided nature walks, horse riding and helicopter flights.
  3. Singita Serengeti House (Tanzania) is a luxury, serviced safari villa for families enjoying a fully tailor-made vacation that is private from start to finish, including professional guide, game drive vehicle, swimming pool, chef and spa treatments.
  4. Sweetwaters Serena Camp (Kenya) is set in the Ol Pejeta Conservancy overlooking a watering hole where animals come to drink and graze. The reserve is home to the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa, as well as the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary. Enjoy Big 5 game drives, guided nature walks, animal encounters at the sanctuary and camel treks.
  5. Looking out over a waterhole, Acacia House (Kenya) is ideal for families with under-12s who will take full advantage of the toy-filled playroom, baby pool, bush TV and kids-only loft bedroom. Safari activities include game drives and fly camping at nearby Naboisho Camp.
Best Family Safaris

Our 10 Best Family Safari Trips to East Africa

1. Kenya's Masai Mara & Laikipia

Duration: 9 Days | Locations: 3

A camelback safari with The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille.

Highlights:

  • Witness the Wildebeest Migration (about June to October)
  • Personal chef and private wildlife guide at Topi Mara Bush House
  • Guided bush walks, horse- and camelback safaris in Laikipia
  • Trout-fishing excursion to Mount Kenya via helicopter
  • Convenient fly-in transfers between destinations

2. Private Villas in the Serengeti & Selous

Duration: 10 Days | Locations: 3

Mkombe's House Lamai, Serengeti

Highlights:

  • Housekeeping, chef and babysitting services at Mkombe’s House
  • Flexible schedule for game drives and guided walks in the Serengeti
  • Utmost privacy in the wild Selous Game Reserve
  • Game viewing by boat on the Rufiji River
  • Adventurous fly-camping excursion (optional)

3. The Ultimate 'Lion King' Safari

Duration: 15 Days | Locations: 5

Gorilla trekking with Sanctuary Gorilla Forest Camp.

Highlights:

  • Fun interactions with habituated meerkats in Botswana
  • Guided walking tour of Victoria Falls
  • Track the Big 5 in the Masai Mara
  • See Kenya's famed lion prides
  • Gorilla trekking in Uganda (only for ages 15 and above)

4. Kenya With Teenagers

Duration: 8 Days | Locations: 2

A cultural visit to a Maasai village with Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp.

Highlights:

  • Visit the Sweetwaters Chimpanzee Sanctuary in Laikipia
  • Incredible game viewing in private concessions
  • See the Big 5 – superb rhino sightings in Laikipia
  • Witness the Wildebeest Migration's river crossings (August to November)
  • Kichwa Tembo's pool with the best view in the Mara

5. Bush & Beach With Young Kids

Duration: 10 Days | Locations: 3

Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort, Kenya

Highlights:

  • Evenly spaced itinerary with easy travel logistics
  • Fantastic game viewing in the Masai Mara
  • Witness the Wildebeest Migration (in season)
  • Babysitting services, kids menus, fish pond and bird sanctuary at Sarova Mara Game Camp
  • Kids' activity club, playground and child-friendly beach in Mombasa

6. Luxury 'Lion King' Safari for All Ages

Duration: 8 Days | Locations: 4

Sundowner drinks on 'Pride Rock'.

Highlights: 

  • Have breakfast with giraffes at The Giraffe Manor
  • Borana Lodge, home to the inspiration for The Lion King’s Pride Rock
  • Track lion with Samburu warriors
  • See the Wildebeest Migration (July to September)
  • Fly between destinations – no long drives!

7. Kenya With Pre-teens (Ages 9 – 12)

Duration: 8 Days | Locations: 3

Witness the Wildebeest Migration with Mara Intrepids Camp.

Highlights:

  • Thrilling game drives in the Samburu National Reserve
  • Adventurers' Club for children
  • Mara Intrepids Camp's beautiful riverside location
  • Cultural trips to Maasai villages
  • Witness the Wildebeest Migration (in season)

8. Mobile Camping & Walking Safari With Camels

Duration: 3 Days | Locations 2

A camelback safari.

Highlights: 

  • Walk with Samburu and Maasai guides through stunning scenery
  • Stay in authentic safari camps
  • Camel rides
  • Spot wildlife on foot on the Laikipia Plateau

9. Kenya's Samburu & Masai Mara

Duration: 7 Days | Locations: 2

Kids can learn how to create traditional artifacts.

Highlights:

  • Private villa accommodation in the Masai Mara and Samburu
  • Warriors Academy – an interactive programme for families with children
  • Discover the Samburu Special 5: reticulated giraffe, Grevy's zebra, beisa oryx, Somali ostrich and gerenuk
  • Excellent game viewing in the Masai Mara
  • Witness the Wildebeest Migration (in season)

10. Good-value 'Lion King' Safari (Ages 8+)

Duration: 10 Days | Locations: 4

A bush picnic with Porini Lion Camp.

Highlights:

  • See lion, cheetah, hyena and elephant in Amboseli
  • Guided bush walks with Maasai warriors
  • See the Big 5 in Meru National Park
  • Full day excursion in the Masai Mara with picnic lunch
  • Night drives in exclusive-use areas

The Best Family Safari is a Private Safari

Game drive with Saruni Samburu.

Going on a private safari means that your family’s whole itinerary is shaped around their tastes and preferences. It’s the best way to get the most out of a once-in-a-lifetime vacation – nothing beats exploring with a professional guide in a private vehicle at your own pace, taking private transfers (no need to wait on a tour company’s schedule) and, most importantly, focusing on what really interests you all.

Our passionate Africa Safari Experts are very well travelled and have extensive first-hand experience in the destinations they recommend. They continuously discover and inspect new lodges and experiences to ensure they meet our clients' expectations, and to tailor-make itineraries based on their travel wishes – from fun activities for active families to special menus for your fussiest eater. It’s the best way to book the family safari holiday of a lifetime...