Your vacation can be spiced up with a new kind of excitement by going on a walking safari. When you go to bed the night before, ensure your boots are at the foot of your bed and that your backpack checklist is ready. A steaming mug of coffee and a helping of anticipation for the day ahead are the perfect accompaniments to an early morning alarm clock.
In contrast to going on a game drive, going on a walking safari allows you to truly take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the African bush. There was no longer the roar of the engine to cover up the sound of the wind rustling the canopies high above or the hoof thump of a male impala who was defending his territory. You will learn the wonders of communication in the wild through the use of a coded language of signals that are shared with you by your guide as he leads the way across openings and navigates through thickets and woodlands.
What is a Walking Safari?
A walking safari is an exciting excursion in which guests participate in leisurely, guided walks with the primary purpose of discovering various species of wildlife that can be found in the surrounding bushland. Because of the slower pace and lower angle of viewing afforded by walking among the animals, it is easier to notice the minute details that are easily missed when viewing them from a vehicle.
Not only are walking safaris for the most experienced hikers but your fitness level is also taken into consideration so that your guide can select the most suitable terrain for you to enjoy. Those vacationers looking for an adventure can hike up one of the rocky trails, but others who just want to get some fresh air and stretch their legs can go more leisurely and take a few breaks to look at the local flora and fauna. Whatever kind of walking you’re interested in, each experience will be designed specifically for you.
Walking Safaris Destination
Walking safaris offer a genuine and one-of-a-kind perspective on the fauna, flora, and ecosystems, and they are offered in many of the safari destinations in East and Southern Africa.
Walking safaris give you a true taste of the wilderness in a way that you can’t experience from the comfort of a safari vehicle or lodge. These safaris can range from bush walks with tribe leaders that reveal a completely different way of life to sleeping under the stars on a multi-day walking safari expedition. Walking safaris provide you with an authentic taste of the wilderness. Discover a level of detail that you haven’t seen before, from the tiniest of reptiles and insects to the process that guides users to track down the large game in the wilderness.
The following is a list of destinations for walking safaris, ranging from gorilla trekking to multi-night fly camping, that will allow you to get the most out of your safari experience.
1. Okavango Delta
The Okavango Delta in Botswana is a swampy wildlife paradise of land and sea, and it is home to one of the largest populations of elephants in all of Africa, especially on Chiefs Island. The Okavango Delta is also home to a variety of other land and marine animals. As a result of the fact that the Delta is renowned not only for its exceptional birding destination but also for its excellent game viewing throughout the entire year, this abundant safari destination offers a plethora of opportunities for wildlife viewing.
Because of the wetlands, the term “walking safari” is somewhat misleading because you will be traveling through the waterways and backwaters in a mokoro, which is a traditional canoe with a dug-out bottom. If you are looking for a day trip out, there are luxury and semi-luxury game lodges available. If you are looking to venture deeper into the wilderness on a multi-night walking safari experience, you can stay at mobile camps along the trail instead.
2. Masai Mara
The incredible Masai Mara in Kenya is one of the most well-known places to go on safari in the world. It is a part of the Great Migration, which occurs in neighboring Tanzania’s Serengeti as well as in Kenya’s Masai Mara, and it is home to all of Africa’s Big Five animals.
Maasai warriors from the surrounding area, who are experts on the terrain, lead visitors on bush walks in the Masai Mara, making for an unforgettable experience.
These local guides can also show you their way of life by teaching you their survival skills, hunting techniques, and how to live in the savannah. Their knowledge and experience have been passed down through generations, and they can share it with you.
3. Samburu National Reserve
Samburu may only be 165 square kilometers in size, but this tiny slice of paradise is jam-packed with all kinds of different animals. The semi-arid landscape is broken up by the Ewaso Nyiro River, which allows for easy viewing of the game in an area that is relatively small and has a limited number of water sources.
The Somali ostrich, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated Giraffe, Gerenuk, and Beisa oryx are the five members of the “Samburu Five” that you will have the opportunity to see.
The terrain in Samburu National Park is more rugged than that of other national parks; therefore, fitness levels and stamina are important considerations for visitors planning to go on a walking safari in the park. Trips lasting multiple days are possible.
You won’t be able to see the truly wild side of East Africa from the comfort of a luxury safari lodge; however, this makes the adventure all the more worthwhile because you will get to see this side of the continent.
4. Amber Mountains National Park and Ankarana Special Reserve
Amber Mountain National Park and the nearby Ankarana Special Reserve are well-known for their beautiful landscapes, which include crater lakes, waterfalls, and plantlife that is unique to the area. As a result, this area of natural beauty is one of the most biologically diverse places on the island of Madagascar.
During your daring walking safari through the jungle, you will see a wide variety of colorful bird species in addition to mammals such as Madagascar’s famous lemurs, reptiles such as chameleons (the Amber Mountain leaf chameleon is one of the smallest reptiles in the world), and so on.
5. Parc National des Volcans
The undulating mountainous landscapes of Little Rwanda, also known as the Land of a Thousand Hills, provide jungle habitats for mountain gorillas, which are critically endangered species.
Visit the Parc National des Volcans, take a dip in the placid waters, meet primates such as chimpanzees and native golden monkeys, and then trek for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see mountain gorillas in their natural habitat.
6. Kruger National Park
The Kruger National Park in South Africa is widely regarded as one of the top destinations in the world for enjoying a walking safari. This well-known safari destination is home to a vast number of different animal species, and during the dry season, visitors can enjoy excellent bush walk expeditions that span multiple days and include comfortable lodging options along the way.
In addition, South Africa is a malaria-free safari destination; as a result, it is a popular choice for family safaris because game viewing can take place without the added hassle of giving antimalarial medication to young children.
7. Private Reserves
Walking safaris can be booked in several of South Africa’s private reserves, including those located within Kruger National Park. Sabi Sands, the Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu Natal are all popular options for family-friendly walking safaris, and each of these regions offers interactive bush walks that showcase a higher level of detail than you would normally encounter on a regular game drive.
8. Ruaha National Park
Ruaha National Park is Tanzania’s (and East Africa’s) largest national park; however, as a result of its more remote location, it only sees about 5% of the number of tourists that the Serengeti National Park does.
A trip to this area will allow you to see Tanzania’s largest elephant population, witness huge lion pride, and travel through dramatic landscapes while giving you the impression that the park is all yours to yourself.
Walking through this national park, which covers a vast area and features terrain such as mountains, rocky outcrops, and savannah flats dotted with baobab trees, is an activity that offers a higher level of excitement than other types of excursions.
Step away from the crowds and into the wild on one of the available multi-day hikes through the bush, where you can camp out under the canopy of the night sky.
9. Selous Game Reserve
The Selous Game Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in addition to being one of the largest wildlife reserves on the planet (covering an incredible 50,000 square kilometers), where you can find Africa’s Big Five animals.
Giraffes, zebras, elephants, hippos, lions, and rhinoceroses are just some of the big game favorites that you will have the opportunity to see here, where the populations of these animals are among the largest in all of Africa.
Safaris in the Selous can also take the form of river cruises, open-top game drives (which are not available in Tanzania’s northern parks), self-drive safaris, as well as walking safaris with options for overnight fly camping under breathtaking night skies.
A place whose very name is synonymous with safaris, the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is widely regarded as one of the top safari destinations in the world. It is home to all five of Africa’s “Big Five” animals, as well as the annual Great Migration and countless opportunities to see amazing wildlife.
However, these attractions also make the Serengeti one of the most popular places to visit. As a result, you may want to include trips to areas outside of the national park for crowd-free safaris in Ikorongo Game Reserve and Loliondo Game Controlled Area. These areas are both located in Tanzania.
To give you a more genuine walking safari experience, bush walks in the Serengeti are frequently led by local Maasai warriors, just as they are in the neighboring Masai Mara in Kenya.
11. Tarangire National Park
Tarangire is a much more under-the-radar national park in Tanzania, despite having a competitive diversity of wildlife, and is therefore frequently ignored in favor of Tanzania’s more well-known national parks. You’ll have the opportunity to witness the long-distance migration of zebras and wildebeests, as well as the migration of elephants and a diverse collection of bird species.
You can go on walking safaris, night safaris, and fly camping trips in Tarangire. On these trips, you will stay out in the bush and fall asleep while stargazing and listening to the sounds of wildlife in the distance. Tarangire also offers a wider variety of safari experiences than other parks in Tanzania.
Reasons to Do Walking Safaris
Try going on a walking safari for an experience that is both more personal and less detrimental to the natural environment. The following are some of the reasons why you should participate in a walking safari:
1. Activate your senses
The best part about going on a walking safari is that you get to touch, feel, and smell the environment that the wildlife lives in. You can hear every bird call, impala bark, and bush rustle without the noise of a vehicle engine. Complete immersion in the wilderness.
2. Seeing smaller creatures
The opportunity to go on foot hunts for animals is one of the most exciting aspects of a walking safari. Animal tracking is an ancient craft that allows people to connect with the natural world. Your guide will help you better understand animal behavior as well as tracks and signs that the animals have left behind.
Not only this, but another benefit of going on a walking safari is the opportunity to see the smaller animals and details of the ecosystem, both of which are frequently overlooked when viewing the area from a vehicle. Gain an understanding of the flora and fruits, the cultural significance of plants as well as their medicinal properties, the intricate webs spun by spiders, and the complex relationships that exist between different species.
3. More immersive
A mindful attitude is required when traveling. It is simply a more enjoyable experience, and you are better able to take in the uniqueness of the world around you. Because it turns you into a participant rather than an observer, a walking safari offers a more immersive experience than other types of safaris.
Walking allows you to take in the myriad of sights and sounds that the forest has to offer. While riding in a vehicle, you will frequently have the opportunity to view things that you might have otherwise missed. Walking safaris are led by highly trained and armed guides who can instruct, protect, and lead you while you take in the experience. This ensures that your safety is not compromised in any way.
How To Be Safe in Walking Safari?
Before you go on your first walking safari, your qualified guide will go over a few guidelines with you. These guidelines may include the following:
1. Best Time
The most pleasant part of the day for going on walking safaris. You should try to time your excursion so that most of the animals are either sleeping after a long night of hunting or before they wake up to hunt again so that you can avoid disturbing them. You can help protect yourself from the heat, which can be very draining, by scheduling your excursion during the appropriate time of day.
It is essential to wear appropriate clothing to keep you comfortable and to assist you in blending in with your surroundings. Wearing clothing with muted, neutral colors and sun protection, as well as boots with a high ankle and supportive ankle collar, is essential.
3. Walking Arrangement
It is best to walk in a single-file line with a safari guide in both the front and back. This will ensure that the most knowledgeable eyes and ears are surrounding the group, keeping an eye out for interesting opportunities to view wildlife. It is recommended that an armed guard or tracker be present at the very front of the line to provide an additional layer of safety.
4. Avoid Noises
It is possible to prevent animals from becoming startled by keeping your voice low and avoiding excessive chatter. This also helps to preserve the stillness and calm of the wild around you.
5. Follow the Instructions
Always make sure to follow the directions given to you by your trackers and guides, as they have a much better understanding of how to identify potential hazards in the environment.
When you step outside of the confines of your 4×4 Jeep and into the uncharted territory of the wilderness on foot, a whole new world is there to be discovered. If you want to get a real feel for what it’s like to be out in the wilderness, the best way to prepare for your next adventure is to spend it by walking safaris.