Discover more about one of Africa’s most epic safari experiences
Experience one of our favorite ways to experience the African bush and that is on foot during a walking safari…….
You’ve not experienced Africa until you’ve explored it on foot on a walking safari. This is when you truly connect to the wilderness, learning its nuances and moods, discovering the marvelous diversity of life and the tiny, often overlooked fauna and flora that make the African bush so awe-inspiring.
It’s while you are walking that you also experience your senses becoming heightened as your body adjusts to a primal version of itself, prepared for unseen danger and the possibility of encountering big game on foot. You’ll feel as though you can see more clearly, hear more sharply and smell more intensely. All of which increases the thrill factor tenfold.
While walking your guide gets the chance to truly shine and teach you fascinating and often amazing things about things you would never see on a game drive. From interesting geology, animal spoor and scat to insects, spiders and inconspicuous shrubs and plants with wonderful medicinal and practical properties, you’ll learn fascinating and truly mind-blowing facts about the wilderness around you.
You’ll also do fun stuff, a lot of which revolves around the endless supply of poop you’ll find as you walk! Things like tasting impala poop, finding out what elephants eat for breakfast by disassembling their droppings, discovering what eats and lives in various kinds of excrement. Add to this handy survival tips like what tree branch makes a great toothbrush, what leaves are useful as toilet paper and those that help to keep biting insects at bay when you rub them on your skin!
What you’ll need to wear…
The most important part of walking is making sure you have good, comfortable footwear. We recommend investing in a good pair of walking boots or shoes that will properly cushion your feet with solid soles that are as thorn-proof as possible. However, depending on the terrain of where you are walking, a pair of quality sports-type trainers may suffice, provided they’re not too garish or colourful!
A hat is the second most important item of clothing, no matter what the time of year. The African sun is unforgiving so protection from it is absolutely necessary!
Again, depending on the terrain you’ll be covering, the choice of whether to wear long pants or shorts (or those wonderful combinations of both that many outdoor outfitters sell) is up to you. Where there are grasses, long pants are preferable as they protect from scratches and insects.
Likewise, a tee-shirt or long-sleeved shirt is a matter of choice, but when it comes to protection from the sun, something with sleeves (even a loose over-shirt) is often a good idea.
A lightweight backpack is also a must, where you can carry your camera, binoculars and a bottle or two of water.
These parks were made for walking…
So, where’s best for walking in wild Africa? Well, Zambia’s beautiful South Luangwa National Park is a good place to start. The traditional “home” of the modern walking safari, most of the camps we recommend in this vast, pristine wilderness offer walks as a replacement for a morning game drive. Walking is always best in the morning as it avoids the heat of the day. These walks are usually around three hours long and can either start and end in camp or take place deeper in the park after a short game drive, either walking back to camp or on a circular route from the game vehicle.
For the more adventurous and those who are completely hooked on walking, it’s also possible to arrange one- or two-day walks, or multi-day walks with your nights spent in simple fly-camps, under a canopy of stars. The camps are set up for you in preparation for your arrival, with a wonderful campfire ready for sitting around and a team on hand to prepare dinner and treat you to a fabulous, authentic wilderness experience.
The South Luangwa is relatively flat, so walking is not particularly strenuous. A morning walk does not require exceptional levels of fitness, but for full day and multi-day walks, a good fitness level will help.
Zimbabwe’s jaw-droppingly gorgeous Mana Pools National Park is also renowned for its fantastic walking safaris. Remote and wild, Mana’s sparse vegetation allows for great visibility and its relaxed wildlife are used to seeing people on foot, allowing for up-close-and-personal encounters aplenty.
Walking at Mana takes place primarily in its expansive floodplains, where the Zambezi has carved terraces that are now covered with open woodland, making it easy to see animals from a distance and reducing the chance of bumping into dangerous game unexpectedly. The groves of winterthorn, ebony and mahogany also offer wonderful shade.
In Botswana, we love walking in the Shinde Concession in the north of the Okavango Delta and in the Linyanti Concession bordering the Chobe National Park. Combining these two areas gives those looking for the chance to walk in wonderfully different, contrasting environments the ability to explore two of the best wilderness areas in Africa.
Staying in rustic, intimate and thoroughly authentic bush camps and walking where possible, you can also experience the magic of discovering the channels of the Okavango on a mokoro and a sleepout under the stars.
While it’s not renowned for its walking safaris, we also offer the opportunity to explore Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park on foot, staying in a mobile tented camp that can be set up either in the northern or southern region of the park. Combine it with the Great Wildebeest Migration for a truly spectacular, bucket-list experience.
We also recommend a three-night walking safari in Kenya in the Naboisho Conservancy that borders the Masai Mara, fly camping in rustic dome tents out on the plains.
Get in touch with us to find out more about walking safaris!