There are few experiences in the world that can prepare you for a proper walking safari in Africa with a professional guide. Get closer to nature and the smaller wonders of the bush.
It is exhilarating, slightly unnerving, heart pounding and quite wonderful to walk through the African bush, with Giraffe, Zebra, Elephant and various other animals as your nearby companions. Whilst you are able to walk in most African countries in one safari area or another there are only a few places in reality that offer up a true walking safari.
There is nothing that compares to a big game walking safari with a licensed professional and armed safari guide, tracking finding and approach the big game species of Elephant, Buffalo, Lion, Rhino, Leopard and Wild Dog. The importance of the skill of your guide here can't be understated and few countries have the examination processes in place to be able to offer these extraordinary experiences.
There is something still so carnal about having the Africa soil beneath your feet, tracking the spoor of an Elephant, using the wind direction to disguise the scent of the planet's apex predator (us), and knowing that any minute you can happen upon whatever it is you are tracking. Approaching an Elephant and standing within 10-15 metres of these majestic giants is something else. Humbling to say the least to feel so small and insignificant. Tracking fresh Lion footprints will have your heart racing at 100 miles an hour. Should you be lucky enough to successfully catch up to them and see them for however long, that natural high that comes with it is incredible. It literally feels like you are floating around the bush afterwards. Once you do a walking safari at this level it is highly addictive and you'll want to do more and more.
Zimbabwe and Zambia are the two best walking safari countries in Africa and are so because of their guiding standards and examinations. There are a few camps and lodges in both Tanzania and Kenya where one might also be able to take these real walking safari's, Namely Kichaka Expeditions in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania along with Jabali Ridge and Kwihala Camps. In the Serengeti, Alex Walkers sets of camps that follow the Wildebeest migration also have great walking safaris. In Kenya, there are a few more options, to be honest, as they have a pretty decent licensing setup. Botswana has some walking guides but generally speaking, it is not something that is often taken up. South Africa is a little hit and miss, but the majority of the big names of camps, the higher end ones, do have some great guides.
It has to be said too that not all walking safaris end in an exciting experience, and this is where the quality of your guide also kicks in. Having the knowledge to be able to bring to life everything that you will miss when in a vehicle. Insects, Snakes, trees, grasses, tracks, poop, birds etc make up the majority of your learning on all walks always with the hope of "bumping" into something exciting. Most of the time a walking safari is not an exertive exercise and done as an activity from a camp for a few hours is the most common form of walking safaris. However, there are specialist walking camps that focus predominantly on the activity or even walk between camps for the ultimate experience. In Zimbabwe, the most notable of a very long list of great walking safari camps would be all the camps in Mana Pools, with Chitake Springs being the most visceral and raw experience. In Hwange National Park, you have Kazuma Trails, Hwange Bushcamp for the most heavily focussed walking safari's but to be frank all the camps have extraordinary guides to make walking safari's from anywhere in Hwange great.
If you are fit and able to walk for a few hours as a safari activity then we at Tailormade Africa wholeheartedly recommend you do at least one walking safari. Which camps you should go to really does depend a lot on your holiday personality and previous travel experience either in Africa or the rest of the world so please do get in touch for a conversation and a getting to know you chat.
Walking Safari FAQs
What exactly is a walking safari?
A walking safari is a wonderfully adventurous activity that moves at the groups pace, while the guides primary objective is for you to explore different wildlife species. The most amazing part of a walking safari is the small details often overlooked while in a game drive vehicle. Being on foot makes these things more apparent, especially at a slower pace and a lower angle.
What is a walking safari's safety & practicalities?
The most frequent question we get asked is will I be safe on a walking safari? Absolutely, yes! You can rest assured that you’ll be accompanied by highly-trained, expert guide (sometimes even resident locals like Maasai landowners or bushmen) or game reserve rangers with an unending knowledge of the bush. You are always briefed properly before-hand and all safety precautions are taken, as it is safety first at all times. It is understandable that there is a sense of uneasiness and excitement at the thought of encountering animals in the wild, but risks are always kept to a minimum.
What are some of the best walking safaris in Africa?
Walking safaris can be found all over Africa, but we have narrowed it down to some of our favourites for the guides quality and the overall experience:
The home of walking safaris has to be Mana Pools in Zimbabwe
North Luangwa in Zambia as it is remote with only temporary camps, making it a real rugged, so if this is not your scene you may want to move on
Okavango Delta in Botswana and the area around Chiefs Island is great for a walking safari
Ruaha National Park in Tanzania has some of the most outstanding guides in Africa, making this a must
Selous Game Reserve in Tanzania which is a World Heritage Site for a reason
Rwanda Gorilla Trekking is a life-changing experience
Uganda also offers Gorilla & Chimpanzee Trekking
What can I expect to see on a walking safari?
Let's first say that walking safaris are about more than just what you see. It is combined with a sense of freedom and butterly-inducing exhilaration and excitement. You could share your space with herds of zebra and wildebeest, a journey of giraffe or come close to a dozing pride of lions. If your in Rwanda or Uganda you will come within feet of a troop of gorillas or chimps. But walking safaris are also about all the small things along the way which create an amazing learning experience.