Top 10 Things to Do in Diani Beach, Kenya (with kids!)

On the south coast of Kenya lies one of our family’s favourite escapes… the award winning Diani Beach! With sand that is irresistibly soft & brilliantly white; a crystal clear turquoise sea; a reef teaming with vibrant aquatic life; and child friendly activities galore; it was so difficult to limit this list to our Top 10 Things to Do in Diani Beach!

Colobus Conservation

Colobus Conservation – A very simple, no frills, not-for-profit organisation to promote conservation of the colobus and other monkeys and turtles, as well as the whole Diani eco-system and environment … and address the threats to its survival. The organization works in partnership with local communities to promote conservation and we ask you kindly to visit. In our view, its because of this organisation that Diani beach is as it is, they continuously fight the cause.

Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest

Kaya Kinondo Sacred Forest – for those interested in history, flora & fauna, it is an interesting hour or two. Kaya Kinondo is a sacred forest originally home to the Digo people. Thanks to successful conservation efforts, they now live nearby and use the forest as a place of worship. The Digo people show us a beautiful example of environmental conservation and cultural preservation managed at the grassroots level.

Feeding Bushbaby’s

Feeding Bushbaby’s – an incredible activity for adults and kids alike. Jump in a Tuktuk at 6.30pm (book first) and head for Stilts Backpackers for a sundowner and some supper whilst the gorgeous little bushbaby’s are fed at 7pm (you will be able to feed them if you’re lucky). A great night out for kids!

Leisure Lodge Golf Course

Golf – Diani is home to one of the Kenyan coast’s finest golf courses, the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort, which offers a championship golf course (18-hole, par 72, course measuring 6084 meters with driving range, chipping green and bunker, resident golf professional, equipment hire and Pro shop.

Ngalawa Fishing Boat Excursion

Ngalawa Fishing Boat Excursion – Kenyan fisherman traditional dugout canoe excursion with a paddle. It’s a natural, exciting and peaceful excursion over the waters of the Indian Ocean. You can even choose to visit the sand bank and snorkel. Child friendly for kids who can swim. Our tip: take water to drink.

John’s Glass Bottom Boat

Glass Bottom Boat – Contact John +254 (0) 726 678867 to book in advance. A very Kenyan 2-hr long excursion in a shaded glass-bottom boat that will take you out to the sandy reef to snorkel in the pools and have a walk around the reef. The reef can get a bit over-populated in high season but try to get there early. This boat is nothing fancy at all, but full of character and the kids will have a ball. Child friendly to the extreme! Our Tip: Take water to drink.

Dhow Day Trip

A Traditional Swahili Dhow day trip – an incredible day out to the local Kisite Mpunguti Marine Park in a traditional boat, with Pilli Pipa. You will join other guests on one of two dhows (both with flushing loos and shades) off which you will be able to dive or snorkel (even if you can’t swim!!). Dolphins and whale shark/humpback whale sightings are a regular occurrence. You will receive lunch at the owners private home prepared by smiling Swahili ladies … there is even a swimming pool! The price includes transport to and from your hotel, all equipment, trained guides, marine park fees, water & snacks, a wonderful lunch and drinks with lunch. Every child visiting Diani who enjoys snorkeling should do this!

Deep Sea Fishing

Deep Sea Fishing – East Africa is a Mecca for deep-sea fishermen, many world and all-Africa records being held in Kenya. Half day, full day, night & day-night-day trips are available with Sport Fishing Kenya who pride themselves in being passionate about sustainable sportfishing and engage actively in conservation both on the water and onshore. Their policy is to tag and release all billfish and other designated endangered species such as Giant Trevally. There are six types of billfish, striped, blue and black marlin, sailfish, swordfish, sharks, wahoo, yellow fin, tuna and dorado. Boats typically depart in the early morning, trawl for bait and then head out to the deep water to wait for the big catch. The fishing season is August to March (billfish season from November to March). Perfect father & son outing!

Snorkeling

Windsurfing, Kitesurfing, Kayaking, Stand Up Paddling (SUP), Snorkeling … You name it! More fun in the water then you (or your kids!) ever dreamed was possible. All available at Sand & Sea Watersports.

Deep Sea Diving

Deep Sea Diving – for complete beginners and experienced divers alike, minimum age is 10 years. It is also possible to do a ‘fun dive’ where no experience is required and a guide takes you down to 6 metres. Due to the Indo-Pacific current, the Indian Ocean boasts the same fish species as Australia: manta rays; reef, hammerhead and whale sharks; turtles and multi-coloured reef fish in coral gardens. A wide range of deep sea diving excursions including certified PADI diving courses and wreck diving can be arranged with Pilli Pipa.

So what are you waiting for? Grab the kiddos & let’s head to Diani Beach!

Looking for the perfect family-friendly place to stay? Check out our blog post on our family’s memory filled holiday on the beach.

A Cultural Trip Through the World’s Most Impressive Wildlife Spectacle, The Maasai Mara, Kenya

The Maasai Mara National Reserve and surrounding conservancies are indeed considered the World’s Most Impressive Wildlife Spectacle on earth. On this occassion, the kids & I find ourselves completely engaged in a vibrant cultural experience whilst being immersed amongst this fabulous spectacle in the Maasai Mara.

As a Kenyan national, when a cultural tourist attraction tries to lure me in, I am, honestly, filled with dread! Naff shows for mass toursits, flirty beach acrobats, haggling tribesmen and women laden with substandard beaded products … are not the Kenya that I love, but stiff-upper lip, shoulders back and off we go.

Maji Moto Eco Camp, Loita Hills – Our cultural Maasai experience

Our first port of call was the Maji Moto Eco Camp, at USD120 per adult, per night, including all accommodation, all food plus teas and coffees, fully guided activities (nature walks, cultural Maasai experiences such as warrior training, fire making, beading, walking safaris, school and natural hot spring visits, use of 24-speed mountain bikes), I was intriqued! (Pssst. that is super-cheap for African travel as park fees alone are up to USD80 per person, let alone accommodation!).

Location-wise it’s an ideal one-nighter in between Nairobi and the Maasai Mara for those fascinated by the Maasai culture. The camp is a small, simple, clean, characterful and (almost) environmentally sensitive tented camp operated fully by the Maasai people from the nearby village of Maji Moto. I wouldn’t suggest more than a night; in my mind its more of an experience than accommodation, but definitely worth it if this unique culture interests you!
We arrived to a cultural Maasai welcome of dancing, walking, jumping, singing, hmmmmmM’ing & waaaaYaYaYa’ing closely followed by the friendliest of Maasai men showing us the camp itself, their cute little pup tents and the women showing us the beaded work they make (its OK I can cope, its for a good cause!). Once we were settled the men continued to show and teach us about their culture and traditions, their dancing and hunting skills, the medicinal uses for local plants, their diet; they lead their clients on beautiful walks through the Loita hills and spend hours telling of their wonderful life-stories around the campfire, they take you to see where their natural water springs are and what makes their life better.
I was pretty aprehensive when it came to mealtimes .. but the vegetarian food was indeed edible, in fact it was tasty for me … though I would recommend bringing snacks for fussy eaters and kids (I didn’t feel arguing with them about eating boiled cabbage a worthy cause!!), maybe also bring some biltong for the carnivores out there! Oh and a little bottle of red wine or two for the evening if thats what you fancy (nothing that needs to be cold)?
Indeed it certainly is a cultural experience through and through, not wildlife, but culture… and you know what, my kids loved it, which of course meant I did. A stay here certainly does immerse you in the ancient culture and knowledge of the Maasai people.

Kandili Camp, Leopard Gorge, Maasai Mara

Off we head to our ‘wildlife Masai Mara experience’, in the company of the cultural immersed Maasai people.
Arriving in a pretty frail mood after the directions were hard to follow, or was it my ability to read directions??? Either way we were 2 or was it 3 hours late and it was getting dark! With 2 young kids, deep breaths were truly required.
On arrival, our mood was lightened immediately as we were met by the professional, charming and indeed interesting William, a handsome Maasai gentleman who manages Kandili … whilst we were exchanging nicities, a group of ba’jingled Maasai ladies began singing, standing, crouching, singing, standing, crouching, hmmmmmM’ing & waaaaYaYaYa’ing, in true cultural Maasai tradition. Kenyans really do know how to welcome people, it’s an exceptional trait and in no time the kids were also bejangled and jumping in the thick of it. No sooner had this finished another two wonderful Maasai gentleman had arrived and swooped up Billy and Zia and a football, and firm friends were made. Happiness is … when ‘family-friendly camp’ teams actually are fantastic with kids, it immediately makes me feel at ease and in my experience, the kids are immediately better behaved as they’re not constantly being shouted and sssshhhhhhed at!
To increase this level of welcome even more, the charming William had judged the kids (and my 😳!!) exhaustion levels on arrival and rather than expecting us to join the other guests for a campfire chat and later supper, he had set up a little dining table by our gorgeous, spacious, tasteful family tent, next to our very own bonfire and supper was already on its way. This is what made me LOVE Kandili, right then and there, this was it!! 😊

The camp itself … as they state on their website ‘Kandili has been designed to preserve and not interfere with the wildlife that inhabits the fascinating conservancy area‘, I’d agree with this statement. Kandili is a perfect tented camp; it’s attractive, unobtrusive, adventurous, terribly comfortable and we couldn’t have felt more welcome. May I add that Kandili Camp is 100% green. The camp fully runs on solar power for electricity and for hot water and they try to use 0 plastic … I love this!
After a blissful night sleep with the sounds of Africa sneaking through our dreams, we were whisked off on a mind-clearing early morning drive and a little walk through Leopard gorge, a beautiful place to spend a morning.
You will generally drive here with your own vehicle and guide … and everything else at Kandili for a family with young kids is spot on!

Practicalities:
Maji Moto (MM) – For those looking to experience real Maasai cultural experience, a night here will certainly offer you just that.
Kandili Camp (KC) – A simple but stylish tented camp with everything you should want and an amazing team to look after you. This is incredible value for money!
The Areas:
– MM – you’re here for culture and real life, and that is indeed what you get.
– KC – The area is absolutely beautiful, prime wildlife area in low season, in high season, I imagine it will get rather popular with other tourists, but this is what happens when somewhere is as awesome as the Maasai Mara!!
For those travelling to Kenya with kids – Do it, stay at both these places!!
MM will teach them how to live for a night with no luxuries but gaining a lot of knowledge.
– at KC, if you as a family enjoy nature, wildlife and the concept of safari, you’ll have a ball as a family … and its super comfy!
Weather – warm days and a little bit chilly nights.
What to Pack? – A good camera and binoculars (even for the kids, it’ll help them get into it more). Layers … jeans and a warm jumper / jacket for the evening and early mornings and shorts and a t-shirt for the day. High SPF sun cream, hats.
Price:  
– MM –
USD120 per adult, per night (and no conservation fees) – this includes all accommodation, all food plus teas and coffees, fully guided activities (nature walks, cultural experiences such as warrior training, fire making, beading, walking safaris, school and natural hot spring visits, use of 24-speed mountain bikes).
KC – From only USD125 per person per night, conservation fees are on top of this – this includes accommodation, all food and a lovely walk in low season to USD235 in high season. They also have a stay 4, pay for 3 night special 😲 For this price, you just can’t go wrong!!
My advise: People go on holiday for very many different reasons, if you are looking to experience a safari how it always was, at an unbeatable rate, but with all the luxuries you need (comfy beds, beautiful tented rooms, cold drinks, yummy bush food, great hosting etc.) Kandili Camp will suit you perfectly.
If you would like to experience real cultural Maasai safari, then Maji Moto is for you.
In both instances, it is important to have your own vehicle and an amazing guide. Please contact Chania to help you with this and / or to book your stay at either or both places …. or anywhere else in Africa, for you or your family!!

Want to know the ideal time to plan a Family Safari to the Maasai Mara? Find out here!

Book YOUR family a safari with the team we know and trust.

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In Search of a Family-Friendly Hidden Gem, in Egypt

In Search of the perfect Family-Friendly Hidden Gem, in Egypt. Honestly, Egypt has never appealed to me, but with the allure of my sister & her extended family temporarily living in Cairo, off the three of us went, Billy, 6, Zia, 5 and me, ancient!! A blank canvas, an open mind, eyes on stalks and fully prepared for the eyeball-sweating heat .. sort of!

Cairo’s history is fascinating beyond belief. Indeed it’s a hussling, bussling, wobbly-pavement and hanging electricity wires city … the fact that it’s dispersed with incredbly showy shopping malls & flashy kids entertainment made it difficult to fully comprenend. Do I like it, do I not? Is it grotesque amongst so much poverty? or is it just normal for nowadays? Hmmmm ….. Hey ho, any Kenyan released into shops = pure happiness; incredible culture & history, bring in on!!

Apart from the dreaded (pretending not to like them) shopping centres, did we discover any memorable Hidden gems in Cairo? Well I’m going to add a little list of the fun things we did and what we got out of them as a family .. whether the most popular tourist attractions in the world, or hidden gems:

  1. The Egyptian Museum of Antiquities – An incredible museum! For those historians out there a few days would be ideal; our personal favourite section was the breath-taking collection of the infant-king Tutankamun’s belongings …. though it transpired one child doesn’t so much love being in a room with hundreds of dead bodies (Mummies!), so our visit was fairly speedy.
  2. The Grand Bazaar, Khan El-Khalili, in Old Cairo – A trinket market primarily set up for tourists. A huge amount of colour and buzz, a little ‘badgery’ but a great experience if you love a bit of tat-shopping, as I indeed do!! Oh and we found a little silver shop hidden amongst it all with gorgeous silver goodies!
  3. A little tour around some places of worship, SEVEN to be precise – Synagogues, churches, Roman Catholic churches such St. Virgin Mary’s Coptic Orthodox Church, The Basilica of St Therese of the Child Jesus; Islamic mosques, the Al Hakim Mosque, the Mohammed Ali Mosque in the Citadel of Saladin etc. etc., honestly it was incredibly interesting, fastinating, beautiful and inspiring, and we saw where Jesus once lay, apparently … but … note to self, don’t take 5&6 year olds around 7 places of worship, in 42 degree heat😓, in the same day …. or their mother to be honest; Billy recounts it as his worst day ever!! Three places and three ice creams would have been perfect.
  4. Tentmakers Street (Sharia Khayamiya) – Hidden Gem – our guide was furious we’d asked him to take us here, but we had fun and it’s a pretty cool place! Hop on a TukTuk as the road is fairly narrow and overall it’s not hassly or touristy, through sdtill full of colourful little shops with men sewing beautiful tapestries, applique, weaving …. etc.
  5. The vibrant craft community of Fustat – Hidden Gem – Pottery Galore, tile-making, metal-denting, paper-making and not a tourist in sight … all in the Fustat area near Coptic Cairo, I dont mind if I do!!! This was a personal highlight for me. You can pop your kids into a little paper-making course whilst you shop until you drop in some beautiful artesan galleries / shops / art studios .. there is nothing gold plated about the area, it essentially looks like an industrial area, but the talent, the talent!!
  6. Boutique shopping – Hidden Gem – Egyption Cotton & Essential Oils, Soaps & Salts, Silk scarves, Vintage Home Accessories, Hand-made Jewelery, Organic Food … and kiddy cooking to keep them occupied and happy whilst the retail therapy takes place – all this fun can be found in the Delga Stores, 2, Road 218, Degla, Maadi. Maadi or El-Ma’adi is an affluent, leafy suburban district south of Cairo.
  7. Sundowners on the Nile on a local Felucca – Hidden Gem – Super affordable. Take a coolbag of drinks, snacks and enjoy a little no-frills sail along the nile (if theres any wind!).
  8. The Pyramids of Giza – More than 2m limestone and granite blocks were hauled into place on the Great Pyramid. The average weight of one block is about 2.5 tons … how can this not impress you? If you are planning on going during the day, get there early to miss the crowds (and heat 😓) … but we would rather suggest you go to the incredible evening sound & light show.

As well as Cairo, the family’s highlight was a couple of nights in one of Egypt’s seven Oasis’, Al Fayoum – a complete Hidden Gem!!! A land of unspoiled nature & rich history, a place worth discovering! Only 90 km southwest of Cairo, what was so much fun here?

  1. The Journey – indeed this was the first discovery. Beautiful rice paddy feilds, the sunflower fields, the water buffalo & donkeys at work, the road-side food stalls and the rustic charm of the surrounding areas.
  2. Wadi Wadi El-7itan (Valley of Whales) Little Boy Heaven!!! UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to the earliest prehistoric whale fossils ever discovered. A fabulous little Fossil & Climate Change Museum, sand scattered with prehistopric fish bones and more than 400 X 40 million year old preserved basilosaurus and dorodontus skeletons show the clear evolution of land-based mammals into sea-going ones, as they have vestigial front and back legs.
  3. The Magic Lake (gorgeous) and Gabal El-Medawara – a scenic hiking option overlooking the Magic Lake, and a great place to camp and to marvel at the stars!! Here we were so, so, so lucky to spot a nearing extinction Ruppell’s Sand Fox.
  4. Maidum Pyramid – is believed to be the first attempt to build a pyramid
  5. Tunis Village – A picturesque village known for being the arts center of Al Fayoum, specializing in handcrafts and literary works. We spent two days in pottery classes and shopping, together as a family …. this was a highlight for us!
  6. The Petrified Forest of Fayoum – the largest petrified forest in the world, 40m high trees that have survived for thousands of years.
  7. A Felucca on Lake Qaroun – a beautiful evening out on this ancient natural lake.
  8. Sand boarding – Its an Oasis so sand dunes are all over the place, pick your spot and off you go. The most famous sand boarding spot is “Qoussour El-Arab”.
  9. Camel Trekking & Horse riding through the desert.
  10. Hold our breath and visit the Shakshouk Fishing Village.
  11. In Abu Boxa, fishing boats are manually produced.
  12. Visit Al-Agamiyin: for palm frond furniture known in Arabic as 3argoun.
  13. We stayed in Byoum Lakeside Hotel, I’ve never paid so little to stay anywhere in my life. It was bigger than I’m used to, but perfecly comfortable rooms, a gorgeous swimming pool and delicious food… highly recommended.

In brief, how did we find Egypt? For me the highlight of most holidays is spending time with loved ones. My sister has two gorgeous step-sons and they made this holiday awesome for me, and the ankle-biters; 24 hour entertaibnment all round, Hannes & Eduardo, legends!!!

Honestly Cairo, for me, is not a typical holiday destination I would choose, it was super sweaty, dusty and dirty, the men are infuriating but I do love ‘amazing’ and the pyramids, the churches, the museum ….. are all ‘amazing’! The people are certainly talented in arts and crafts and the food is delicious.  Al Fayoum was the hidden-gem highlight for me … rustic charm and absolutely incredible.

I’m utterly delighted that we went and feel enriched as a result!

Looking for other Family – Friendly places to stay in Africa? Here are some of our favourites.