Kids Too Can Have A Safe Life Time Experience On A Wildlife Kenya Safari by:Henry Kahuki
Children are naturally curious and thanks to Disney's films, Kenya and Africa has been captured in animation features and the big cat diary taken to their living rooms. It would be a great dissatisfaction if they were denied the opportunity to experience the real deal.
The name safari brings to mind thoughts of adventure, wildlife and Kenya bush. Children can finally enjoy safe safaris and experience what adults ones thought is a no go for the young.
Whether you are roaming the bush in an open custom made safari vehicle, walking through tall grass to get up close to the animals or taking a swim in a luxury safari lodge feeling the wind and observing the great views down below the gorge with the usual African bush sounds, kids are finally able to indulge as well.
Kenya wildlife safaris offer families the opportunity to experience wildlife in its natural habitat, nurture a love and appreciation for nature, and connect with the kids, not to mention the endless learning experience. Spotting leopards at a short distance and in their natural habitat is a fascinating experience for both young and old.
Camps and lodges in all the game reserves have learnt the importance of family based guests and are fast embracing the new concept. Are they doing the same in Paris or that's only for the hot in love?
In Kenya, family rooms and yes, tents have been carefully crafted so no one feels alone. Picture an en suite family tent complete with three separate bedrooms, a common sitting area in the middle, a veranda huge enough for an 8 member family breakfast served away from the main mess area and a private child friendly swimming pool at the front.
Now, dream on and picture a harmless giraffe family passing by 30 meters down from your family hammock with uninterrupted view on their way to the watering hole where they are joined by Zebras, Rhinos and Elephants.
Kenya Safaris usually involve long drive periods in 4x4 vehicles, which can be boring for kids! So a family conscious safari outfitter will recommend a flying package that involves taking the scheduled short flights from Nairobi into a game reserve like the Kenya's Masai mara game reserve. Short well planned safari itineraries that ensure you depart point 'A' after breakfast and arrive point 'B' in good time for lunch are also good enough.
Guided safaris from the base of your lodge are less tiring as the drives are casual and you will stop after a while to observe. Game drives will always be supplemented with a bush lunch, a bush walk or even a hot air balloon ride over the rolling savanna plains.
When choosing a safari vehicle, keep in mind that open jeeps and land rovers provide broader viewing than the custom made safari minibus though the buses come with roof hutches that roll up whilst doing game drives in the parks. But the jeeps navigate better in the park roads and take on the dirt roads with more ease.
Equip each child with own camera and binoculars, there is enormous certification when they go back home and print own copies or forward attachments to friends, did I mention the face book and tag net work phenomena.
It's recommendable to invest in a guide book like the Lonely planet or Fielding Kenya that are known to be a great resource. Check out the Kids safari section too. The guide books come with a regional checklist to mark off all wildlife sightings. Parents can use the maps to point out the locations.
Pack neutral colored clothing, bright color clothing can disturb wildlife and white shows lots of dirt, hats, sunglasses, and sun block for the entire family. Plan to dress in layers, while early morning and late evening game drives can be cool and usually by midday it is likely to be quite warm if not hot and that's the best time to take a swim in a plunge natural pool down the road.
If you need assistance in the packing list don't forget to include plenty of film, gift items like candy, pens and small note books to give away. The cultural aspect on any safari goes hand in hand with the wildlife scenes. I promise you when your driver guide takes you to see a Masai village the children there will expect at least a gift if their interest is not just to touch and feel the fine western hair of the visiting family.
Almost all the resorts in Kenya, whether located deep in the countless game reserves in Kenya or at the fine sand beach resorts, they all now have kiddy clubs and trained personnel and animators to keep the young engaged as the parents read a book on the hammock or taking a therapy on a massage session somewhere in a small bush hut not so far away.
The best time of year to view wildlife is during the cool, dry season when vegetation is thin and animals congregate at the few remaining water holes making them easy to spot for the children.
Spotting the animals is so exciting that even the sleepiest in the bunch are likely to accept the change to his or her biological clock and fall in step with the rhythm of the bush. Chances are your guide will point out the best hunting time for the lion family, the waiting for this movie like session will be a life time worth experience.
Hiking is a great way to introduce kids to nature and the outdoors. For many, it is the ideal family adventure. Whether you depart on a walking or cycling holiday, take time and enjoy a cultural tour. Each and every location on the Kenya's map has a cultural aspect and a story to tell.
The country has over 41 tribes, 41 languages and none understand what the others language. All the tribes are spread out, some in the remotest regions you can ever be. That's where we love to take the visitors to sample the hospitality.
Camel safaris take place in one of the regions and Children love every bit of the way. The safaris comprise of moderate leisure walk and when tired the Masai or Samburu guide will facilitate the camel ride. A family of 5 will be provided with 10 bull camels to carry the camping gear and supplies, a local crew of about 7 warriors will navigate the 5 days safari.
Families hiking with young children should also include the items they need for a day on and out of town tour. Diapers, wipes, sun screens, snack and water etc. It's a good idea to let even the youngest take a small safari back pack. Look's good on the family safari photo too.
Your local guides have full knowledge of animal behavior having lived in the area for years, trust their judgment and try to keep your English language simple so that communication is easy.
About the author
Henry Kahuki is an online Africa safaris consultant based in Kenya. The operator of Magical Africa safaris Ltd. http://www.magicalafrica.net an eco-friendly safari agency catering for family safaris, senior travels, individual safaris and camping offers comprehensive safari arrangements in Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda