Perfect family holiday escapes

It is that time of the year when the young brood is back in town for the end of year holidays. You are already scratching your head wondering what to do with them. Wherever your thoughts lead you, be sure to throw in a well-deserved break. With Kenya known as a land of contrasts, places to go and activities to engage in during this period are unlimited. We look at some of the locations that guarantee you outdoor adventure and family bonding with little dent to your pocket.

Nairobi

Two Rivers – This mall offers a wide range of family entertainment activities. The fun galore starts the moment you set foot here with the Ferris Wheel -- get rides (each lasting 17 minutes) at Sh500. You can also enjoy the captivating “dancing fountains” patterned after the choreographed water feature in Dubai as you take a bite at any of the 25 restaurants overlooking the waterfront.

The Funscape Theme Park offers limitless outdoor games and rides with the cost of each activity ranging between Sh400-Sh500. However, the minimum a walk-in customer can spend here is Sh2,000.

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Then there is Magic Planet where children can enjoy toy and video games. Activities cost between Sh150-Sh350.

The Hub, Karen – This mall in Karen offers leisure activities similar to those offered at Two Rivers albeit on a smaller scale. Still, these are enough to sap some adrenaline out of young children. During weekends, the central square is usually turned into a playground where young children find toy car rides an enjoyable activity.

Karura Forest - The forest has of late been attracting both Kenyans and tourists eager to enjoy the beauty of this pristine natural resource located only six kilometres from the city centre. A walk in Karura is more than just a walk in the park. Take time to investigate the caves that were hideouts for freedom fighters and scale the trails for treasure hunts.

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A short walk or drive from the Limuru Road Gate is the ‘Lily’ lake, aptly named due to the abundance of water lilies that cover almost 75 per cent of the water body. Nearby is a picnic spot where families can unwind after the “treacherous” adventure or just rewind at the nearby River Café.

Entry fees: Sh100 for adults and Sh50 for children. Parking fees range between Sh100 and Sh 500 depending on type of car and capacity.

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Central Kenya

Maiyan – A few kilometres off the Nanyuki-Dol Dol road is Maiyan, the newest kid on the entertainment block around Mount Kenya. Maiyan is a Maasai word meaning God’s blessing. Maiyan is set up on a picturesque location with unobstructed views of Mount Kenya. This is perhaps one of the best locations for your child to learn horse riding. Alternatively, engage your children in the many sports offered at the sports centre including tennis, basketball, football, hockey, and rugby. Plan for accommodation at the family villas and enjoy the best of what Laikipia has to offer.

Costs depend on the package chosen. A night on a full board basis for a family of five will cost about Sh43,000. This includes a number of complimentary fun activities and a reduced rates for horse riding that is normally Sh2,000. Alternatively, walk-in guests can pay Sh2,000 redeemable within the premises. 

Northern Kenya

Shaba – Should you feel like taking your family on a long drive, then head to Shaba, the enchanting gem past Isiolo. Shaba is remote and wild with a nearly barren landscape. But its charm lies in this rugged beauty. This is the “Born Free” country where renowned author and conservationist Joy Adamson spent her final moments reintegrating a young leopard and a lion cub back into the world.

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Shaba provided the perfect backdrop for the movie Born Free by Virginia McKenna and her late husband Bill Travers. Shaba also hosted the cast of world-acclaimed motion picture Out Of Africa that chronicled the life of Karen Blixen and her lovers. More recently, television viewers across the world were treated to the wild antics of the Survivor series, part of which was shot in Shaba. With the help of local rangers, take your family on the ‘gorge walk’ and follow in the footsteps of the original Survivor cast along Uaso Nyiro River. Accommodation is usually through the nearby Sarova Shaba Lodge or in campsites.

Costs include Sh500 park fees for citizens and Sh500 camping fee per day. If camping, you are also required to hire a ranger for Sh1,500.

Coast

Mama Ngina Waterfront – There is more to Kenya’s coast than the beach. The newly opened Mama Ngina Waterfront is the place to be. Patterned after Durban’s waterfront park, Mama Ngina Waterfront has just been refurbished at a cost of more than Sh400 million. Do not let that investment go to waste. With enhanced security, the park provides the perfect backdrop for some well-deserved rest. With the coastal heat getting on your nerves, this is where you just relax and watch life go by. Hopefully, by the time you head to the coast, a number of eateries will have been set up in the area. The waterfront is one of the few entertainment hotspots that one can enjoy at no cost.

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HolidayTwo RiversKarura ForestMama Ngina Waterfront