By Carolyne Matseshe-Crawford
Growing up in the Chicago area as a Kenyan immigrant, we took a family vacation to Kenya almost every year. As a mother of three daughters, ranging from 4 to 15 years old, I continue that tradition — albeit not at the same frequency.
For anyone making this trek with their family, here are my best tips on where to stay and what to do:
Finding fantastic, centrally located hotels can be a challenge when traveling to any country. Upon arrival in Nairobi, we prefer to base ourselves out of the InterContinental Nairobi Hotel. It is centrally located, has the best concierge services, and is well known by any family from more remote areas of Kenya who want to spend time with us.
The hotel offers personalized transfers from the airport, maintains a fantastic repeat client profile, and makes it easy to ensure that we have some of the comforts of home that make a family vacation easy. We have been loyal to this property as long as we have been traveling between the U.S. and Nairobi.
We also spend time at family homes all over Kenya, which are delightful destinations whether or not you have relatives there. Much of our family vacation is spent in Nairobi’s beautiful Lavington community; at a large tea, coffee, and exotic plant farm in Kitale; in the lush green hills of Taita, also known for its waterfalls; and along the stunning Mombasa coastline.
Mombasa, in particular, is an excellent place to base yourself during a family vacation. We love the Serena Beach Hotel. It is beautiful inside and out. A true hotspot, this hotel offers excellent amenities, childrens activities, and some of the best service in the area. Besides beauty, Mombasa also offers convenience: There are many local shops, with some of the items that you might want to grab for diaper bags, backpacks, etc., before venturing further into the countryside.
Nairobi’s Wilson Airport will have local car and air travel for hire to many of the country’s game preserves. You can keep this private to your family, or share the services through one of the local tour company excursions obtainable from your hotel concierge.
For those interested in including a Safari tour on your family vacation, there are many that offer a variety of parks and wild game, for your wildlife photo journey. These allow you to spend any number of days visiting some of the most exotic places throughout Kenya. These are family friendly, have filtered water resources on site at most of the game parks, and allow even more adventurous activities, like sunrise balloon tours, rafting and photo-hunting.
You can experience a taste of the wild game for dinner and enjoy great wine at Nairobi’s Carnivore Restaurant, located on the local game preserve in Nairobi.
Schedule time on your family vacation for camping and fishing on a side trip to Mufangano Island, in the heart of Lake Victoria. This is great fun, as you can secure a boat, fishermen and guides who make this fun and exciting for children.
After a family vacation like this one, your children are sure to leave speaking a bit of Swahili and talking about some great adventures for years to come.
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Carolyne Matseshe-Crawford is the Senior Director, Global Training & Consistency for Orbitz Worldwide.