Kenya holiday with teenagers - 23 unmissable activities
Make sure your teens get the most out of their holiday with our wide range of safari and beach ideas
Kenya guest writer
14 Nov 2022
22 Nov 2022
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Planning a family holiday with teenagers can be difficult as it is hard to make everyone happy. However, a Kenyan safari is a wonderful option as there is such a wide myriad of activities you can involve them in from conservation to adrenaline-fueled activities, that it is the perfect place to get them off their devices and engaging with the world around them!
Of course, a traditional safari is an absolute must, but in this blog, I focus on other activities Kenya has to offer area by area.
The Masai Mara
Starting with the world-famous Masai Mara because it is often on a family’s bucket list to spend some time there.
When visiting the Masai Mara there is no doubt that you will do a lot of game drives as it is famous for its abundance of incredible wildlife which is sure to wow all the family. However some teenagers may find long game drives can get a little boring, so it is worth considering lodges with offer other activities to keep your safari interesting.
A sunrise hot air balloon ride is a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will put the cherry on top of what is already an unforgettable holiday. Taking a sunrise hot air balloon trip, you will be able to see the Masai Mara from above while enjoying the far-reaching views of the horizon and as the sun peaks over the horizon, you can see animals going about their daily business, undisturbed by you. As you land a champagne breakfast will be waiting for you, the perfect end to the experience.
Where to stay: Governor's camp is one of Kenya's oldest and most popular camps, and is located within the main Masai Mara National Reserve giving you easy access to a hot air balloon safari.
2. Wildebeest river crossings
The great migration sees over 1.5 million wildebeest travel through the Serengeti in Tanzania and into the Masai Mara in Kenya, and back again. The infamous Mara river crossing is a highlight of the wildebeest migration as wildebeest and zebra hover on the edge of the sheer banks of the Mara river, deciding if to take the plunge across the crocodile-infested waters to reach greener grass the other side. The anticipation and emotion of watching this dangerous and daring crossing is sure to keep all teens engaged.
3. Plain games
How about playing a game of cricket or rounders on the plains, among the animals, after a day of game driving? After lunch in the lodge, get onto the plains for a 4pm start, have fun with family and friends, maybe your local guides would like to join in. After the competitive game comes to an end, enjoy a well-deserved sundowner.
Where to stay: Asilia Naboisho offers lots of games to do on the plains as the conservancy is very quiet and there are not too many other guests to disturb.
4. Mountain Biking
Mountain biking around the plains of the Masai Mara is a really fun experience for adventurous teens. You get to exercise and have fun while spotting wild animals all at the same time. Ride alongside zebra and giraffe and zoom down an airstrip at speed, then after stop for a picnic by the river to watch some hippos.
Where to stay: House in the Wild which is set on the banks of the Mara River is a wonderful family-friendly lodge and offers mountain biking around Naretoi, as well as lots of other activities to keep your teens engaged.
The Big North
Whilst the Masai Mara is renowned for the vast volume of wildlife, Kenya’s north including Laikipia, Koros and Ol Pejeta have the trump card when it comes to a choice of activities and we would certainly recommend including a few nights in the north as part of a family safari.
When it comes to teenagers, Laikipia has a lot to offer, the activities are endless!
5. Climb Mount Kenya
Climbing Mount Kenya is a challenging yet very enjoyable journey. The expedition takes five days overall with the goal of reaching Point Lenana, which is the third-highest peak (4,985 meters). During the journey to the peak, you come across some of Kenya’s greatest scenery, with fascinating indigenous flora, rocky summit peaks, and glaciers. Wildlife such as elephant, buffalo, bushbuck, giant forest hogs and colobus monkey can be seen in the foothills as in Mount Kenyan National Park.
I climbed Mount Kenya with my old primary school when I was 13 years old, so with some training and getting used to the altitude, any teenager who is up for the challenge can achieve this journey.
Mount Kenya can be climbed anytime time of year, but it is best to avoid the rainy seasons.
6. Horse safaris
Horse safaris are the best option if you want to see Kenya from a different perspective other than from a safari car. It is one of the most unique ways to explore the north and ride alongside the wildlife. As you cross rivers, gallop alongside zebras and giraffes, and maybe encounter big cats in action, you develop a genuine sense of connection with the animals and feel at one with the Kenyan wildlife.
Where to stay: Sosian Lodge in Laikipia is one of the top lodges to do horse safaris, they offer six hours of riding a day that includes bush breakfasts and sundowners. You can also do a night under the stars camping in the wilderness or for committed riders a 5-7 night riding safari, staying in other lodges in Laikipia. If you want to cool down after your horse riding safari, you can swim and jump off waterfalls near the lodge.
Ol Malo, also in Laikipia and Sirai in Borana conservancy are other fantastic lodges which also offer horse safaris.
Horse Safaris can be done all year round. In fact, travelling by horseback can be advantageous in the wet season as unlike a car, a horse will not get stuck in the mud!
7. Camel Safari
A camel safaris is another wonderful way to witness wildlife from a different perspective. Take in the dry, dusty plains of the northern hills, the views of Mount Kenya and Mount Ololokwe, and the various wildlife, such as elephants, oryx, eland, and others, while you slowly and comfortably go along on a camel. Walking Safaris alongside the camels are also very popular where the camels carry your breakfast and other supplies and are there for whenever you get tired.
Where to stay: Karisia walking safaris specialise in multiday camel safaris, you can also do them at Ol Malo and Sabuk in the heart of Samburu land also in Laikipia. Camel safaris can be done all year round.
8. Sleep under the stars
Sleep under the stars in Nay Palad’s hideaway Bird’s nest in the heart of the Laikipia plains. The bird's nest, which is perched among the treetops on a river filled with wildlife, provides views of the plains during the day and the stars at night. The guests can be put to sleep by the rushing sounds of the river and the screech of crickets, and woken by the morning sunrise and the sounds of birds.
9. Climb Mount Ololokwe
The massive rock called Mount Ololokwe emerges seemly out of nowhere from the desert plains. Climbing Mount Ololokwe is a challenging experience that can be done in one day and there is an option to camp the night at the top. You have the opportunity to walk through the elephant trials and watch the most beautiful sunrise and sunset of your life while at the top where you can also see the Mathews range, cat & mouse, and the nearby plains.
Fishing for trout in Lake Rutundu in the Mount Kenya National Park is for those who enjoy being outside and breathing in the fresh air. You can take long walks up to Lake Alice from a little hidden lakes lodge, which accommodates up to eight people. You and your family will have the ability to be alone and get away from people thanks to this special hidden lake. The early mornings can bring to mind Scottish summers, but due to the high altitude, make sure to take layers of thick clothing because it can get very chilly.
Where to stay: Wilderness camp is a fantastic place to stay if you want to try some fishing
11. Helicopter safari
A Helicopter Safari experience is one you will never forget! Although more expensive it is definitely worth it. You can travel to unexplored areas that can only be reached by helicopter and observe the huge northern wilderness, such as the Chalbi Desert from above.
Helicopter safaris through Tropic air are available upon request in lodges and private homes in Laikipia.
Where to stay: Ol Malo are a luxurious ranch in the heart of Laikipia that has its own helicopters and is known for this activity so would be a wonderful choice to rest your head. They have an incredible range of activities on offer so are sure to keep youngsters of all ages entertained.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy
Ol Pejeta Conservancy is the perfect place for teens as it has a big bunch of different activities you can do. Other than game drives where you can witness some amazing wildlife, you can also cycle alongside animals, run with the rangers, track lions, go horse riding and go on guided bush and bird walks.
12. Rhino sanctuary
One of the main highlights at Ol Pejeta Conservancy is been given the chance to visit endangered species such as rhinos, you can even feed their blind rhino, Baraka.
Guests are given the unique opportunity to visit The Sweetwater’s chimpanzee sanctuary and learn more about this threatened species while getting access to private feeding times.
Where to stay: Asilia Ol Pejeta Bush Campis a brilliant, traditional camp located here where the river bank opposite is a salt lick which attracts game throughout the days and night.
The Great Rift Valley
The rift valley lakes are home to an impressive array of wildlife, especially a wide variety of birds that can be found here. Whilst birding may not be a typical activity you associate with most teenagers, there is plenty more here to entertain young minds!
13. Fishing - Aberdare National Park
The Aberdare National Park is a paradise for trekking, fishing, and wildlife with its dense rainforest, magnificent waterfalls, cold mountain breezes, and untamed moorlands. The cool climate, infiltrating mists, chilly lakes and streams is the perfect climate for some of the best and most famous trout fishing in the world. The brown and rainbow trout were brought to Kenya by pioneers in 1900, the fish multiplied within the three rivers, Amboni, Chania and Gura.
If fishing is one of your go to-hobbies, the Aberdare National Park is the next stop on your bucket list. Head to the highlands of the rift valley to camp in the rich greens and mossy forest or stay at the Aberdare Fishing Lodge to have a little bit of luxury and warmth.
14. Natural Spa - Hell’s Gate National Park
Hell’s Gate is an ideal venue for a day trip either from Nairobi or Nakuru, Naivasha and Gilgil all in the Rift valley. It is a perfect place for teens to do mountain biking, rock climbing and visit a natural spa. It is one of Kenya’s most atmospheric parks, famous for its intense geothermal activity and spectacular views of its water-gouged gorges, immense cliffs, volcanos covered in scrub and spitting geothermal streams.
15. Boat safari - Lake Naivasha
How about taking a boat tour of one of Africa’s most renowned freshwater lakes? A boat safari allows you to witness some hippos and various bird species including kingfisher, fish eagle, herons and many more. The lake itself is incredibly beautiful, framed by the purple Eburru volcanic mountain range and bordered by tall Acacia Xanthophlea trees with golden bark. Over a thousand protected hippo live in the lake, and its banks are also home to a few giraffes, zebras, waterbuck, and the occasional eland and wildebeest.
Where to stay: Loldia House in the rift valley is a wonderful, old colonial homestead on a private farm and from here you can do boat safaris and fishing. It is also a stunning spot to spy flamingos from.
We’d highly recommend combining your safari with some relaxation time on the Kenyan coast where teenagers may truly unwind and enjoy some sun on the beach. While on vacation, there are many activities to choose from if sunbathing gets boring for one.
Miles of powder-soft sand, beaches fringed with palm trees and a tropical, warm sea, Diani beach is a quick flight from the Mara and popular with good reason.
16. Starfish Sanctuary
If you want to visit some up-close starfish, head further along the beach to visit the Sand Island Starfish Sanctuary, Tiwi where you can witness the difference the people of Tiwi are doing in the rehabilitation of starfish. Learn about the importance of starfish to marine life and see the beautiful colours they create in the sea.
17. Camel Rides
Down on the south coast, set out for a sunset camel ride along the beach to get a better perspective of the lengthy beach and to see more than you would by strolling. Ride along the beach watching as the tide changes looking out into the deep blue sea and if you are lucky you may spot a whale shark in the distance during their migration.
Where to stay: Pinewood Beach resort is located right on the stunning Galu beach on the Diani Coast giving you immediate access to one of the best coastlines in the world (in our humble opinion).
18. Snorkelling and Diving
Snorkelling and diving in Diani are very popular. During the peak months from October-March, the seas are crystal clear and there is not much seaweed. Have a break from relaxing and go with family and friends of all ages snorkelling for the day in the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park where you can see many sea creatures such as starfish, crabs and turtles.
Diving is defiantly one for the bucket list. Take a diving safari on traditional dhows to the Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park, home to a huge colony of dolphins and dive to the Funguo Wreck to find blue stripe snappers, barracuda, garden eels, kingfish, jackfish and batfish. If you don’t have your diving licence, not to worry as Ocean Tribe do five-star PADI courses.
19. Watersports Galore!
Most hotels in Diani provide any water sport activity you can imagine; whether it's paddle boarding out to sea, a brief snorkel on the nearby coral, or body boarding some small waves, and there are lots of watersport centres right on the beach.
Watamu is a destination that has all of the above, camel rides along the beaches, day trips out to snorkel and Mida Creek is excellent for fishing and perfect for boating watersports.
20. Kite Surfing
Tribe Watersports is a phenomenal company teaching watersports, particularly kitesurfing in the months of June-October as the wind is strong.
Speak to Ben, our resident kite surfing enthusiast for more information.
Where to stay: Kinondo Kwetu is a family-run Swedish lodge with a relaxed, comfortable feel to it and plenty of activities to entertain all the family.
21. Turtle watching
Watamu has its very own turtle watch where you can get day passes to visit the turtle rehabilitation program, witness a catch and release and get involved in the turtle nest monitoring. Sometimes if you are lucky you can help newborn turtles get safely to the sea, a truly wonderful experience to be a part of. You might even encounter a courageous female turtle going to the shore to build her nest and observe what the Turtle Watch team does to preserve the nest without damaging the eggs.
Where to stay: Hemingways Watamuhas the beach right on your doorstep so you can step straight out onto sandy shores and let the waves gently lap at your feet.
22. Dhow Trips
Dhow trips in Watamu are an unforgettable experience. Dhows in Kenya are old traditional boats that fishermen used to go out to sea in and are handmade, now some are used for guests to experience a sunset journey along the Watamu coastline. Meander through the mangroves with some drinks and snacks, and just before dusk, the dhow anchors, giving you time to go swimming and enjoy the ocean to yourself. Later, as the sun sets, take in the tranquil waters' reflections and observe the birds and other animals that live in the mangroves.
Where to stay: Turtle Bayhas its very own dhow which you can book while on your stay, but you can also independently book outside the hotel.
Going further north along the coast you will get to Lamu, a perfect destination for teens. Here you can enjoy the beach and sea as well as watersports and gain a cultural experience in Lamu town by visiting the local markets.
Lamu is famous for its Deep-Sea Fishing especially in the months October-March. This is due to the abundance and variety of species, including marlin, sailfish, tuna, kingfish and others. Be the first to capture and release these incredible fish by setting out early in the morning, enjoying the sea breeze while you wait in tranquility for a bite. Then, all of a sudden, there is a lot of action, along with a sense of accomplishment and excitement when you catch your fish.
Where to stay: Manda Bay is a lodge on an island just off Lamu that has great fishing facilities, as well as many watersport activities. You can also take a drive further into the island and find some buffalo needing to be fed.
Tips for planning a safari with teenagers
Here are our top tips:
Involve everyone in the planning. Teens can be fussy and including them in the planning means they can tell you what activities they would like to do while on safari, this can help you decide which part of Kenya you would like to visit.
Allow some rest time. Teens can get tired easily, especially if they are waking up early for game drives etc. Give them some time to relax by the pool before or after lunch.
Consider a private vehicle. It is worth considering having a private vehicle for your game drives as this gives you the flexibility to focus on which animals you want to spend time with and to do shorter game drives if teenagers start to get impatient!
Less is more. Focus on shorter game drives (2-3 hours) as longer ones can lead to boredom or impatience. Also do not rush from place to place to try see as much as possible. Stay in one place longer to allow teens to settle and have less travel time.
Activities. Consider adding some activities that we have listed above. Visiting local communities means teens can gain a cultural experience and can learn about the importance of conservation while being on holiday.
Relax on the beach. After a hectic safari, some time at the coast can be used for teens to really relax and enjoy the sun. If you are an adventurous family, there are plenty of activities to do at the coast.