Walking Safaris:

Experience the essence of Africa

Return to the natural rhythm of life on a walking safari

Walking safaris have become a bucket-list activity for intrepid travelers visiting Africa. Stride through some of the best wilderness areas in Africa alongside a seasoned expert.

With every step deeper into the wilderness, the space around you seems to swell. The sky feels higher and the air grows stiller as the barriers between humans and nature slowly fall away. From the back of a Land Rover, you will observe a herd of elephants. But only when you see your boot marks imprinted next to their perfectly round footprints do you truly feel as though you are walking among giants. This is just one of the indescribable sensations unique to an African walking safari.

A walking safari compels travelers to engage their senses in a way that is not possible from the confines of a safari vehicle. Walking safaris rely on an ancient navigational system, yet the practice was only pioneered half a century ago by game rangers and conservationists who sought to inspire a new ethic of interaction with the environment in Africa. As a result, walking safaris have evolved. Different types have emerged, varying in duration and location but still sharing the bygone essence of safari exploration that inspired the first expedition. Spend a week in Kenya’s exclusive and unfenced Kicheche Camp to explore secluded wooded valleys, or take part in shorter nature walks along sparkling waterways in Ruaha. Trek along leopard-trodden trails in Zambia or stride alongside Massai tribes in Loita Hills – The options are endless, and they all deliver space in abundance.

Don't confuse a walking safari with a hike!

There are walking safari options designed to meet every fitness level, so don’t discount it because you are concerned that the walk will be too strenuous! Walking safaris are about slowing down to explore the wilderness at a comfortable place, seeking out hidden gems and pausing to learn, take photographs and ask questions.

Suppose you are concerned that you won’t manage a full or multi-day walking safari. In that case, you can opt for a combined walking and driving safari. This is an excellent option if you are visiting a Big Five area like the Kruger National Park. You will cover lots of ground on a game drive and then venture off the beaten path along trails that vehicles can’t reach.

Pro tip: We understand that not all safari lovers come to Africa for the wildlife. For example, Loita Hills is not known for game viewing but for the rich cultural tapestry. So, stay at a lodge that offers walking safaris as an inclusive activity that can be tailored to your itinerary in between beading lessons, walks with the local Maasai and visits to the Manyatta. 

Safety always comes first

While National Parks permit self-drive safaris, walking through the bush without a qualified guide is strictly forbidden. Every detail dotted around the landscape forms part of a story, read with an expert eye by your professional guide. Broken branches and bird calls weave together a narrative and draw a map of animal movements across the rugged landscape. The primary concern is your safety, but professional guides will also enrich your experience with their depthless knowledge of and love for the environment.

Embrace vulnerability and step into the land of leopards

South Luangwa National Park is one of Zambia’s top safari destinations and a leopard hotspot. The Park lies immediately northwest of the Luangwa, a major tributary of the Zambezi. Every year, the river floods, limiting the spread of permanent settlements within the Luangwa Valley, creating the perfect habitat for leopards. The natural gullies and ancient, cathedral-like woodlands that surround them provide ample cover for secretive cats.

Many local safari guides in South Luangwa have made big cats their speciality and know-how to safely track the animals. Tracking leopards, with a hint of ‘something-is-watching-me’ on the edge of your mind, will be a life-defining safari moment regardless of whether or not you find them.

Open your mind and walk in wonder

Walking at a comfortable pace allows you to experience nature in a more cognizant way, and guides will reveal the hidden gems you may have never noticed. For example, instead of strolling beneath the towering baobab trees in Ruaha National Park, stop to sample the addictively sour ‘cream of tartar’ while listening to an African fable about the ‘Upside Down Tree’.

A walking safari encourages you to look at life on a smaller scale, which prompts questions that may not have otherwise occurred. You may stop to admire the velvety leaves of a Mopane tree and wonder why the sides are curled up on some days and not on others. An inexplicable mystery is revealed to be a comprehensible truth when you learn that this cleverly occurs to limit evaporation on a hot or windy day.

You will find perspective in unexpected places, like the dung beetle you usually sidestep as it manoeuvers urgently across your path. That ball of manure is 50 times the dung beetles weight, and he is playing an essential role in preventing parasite build-up. So what once seemed perpetually menial slowly reveals itself to be beautifully ordered.

Walking safaris inspire a profound sense of affinity with the earth. Mindfulness comes with little persuasion when you leave the well-worn tracks to follow animal corridors. You won’t see everything at once, but you will gain an insight and understanding reserved for those who immerse themselves in the African bush.

Big Journeys Start With Small Steps

~ African Proverb

Let's take the first steps together...

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