A walking safari is the most exhilarating way of experiencing a safari in Africa as one gets so much closer to wildlife without the noise of an engine. Of course there is a degree of vulnerability which heightens the senses, but this is a good thing! How often is one called upon to use those senses today? Everything is so much more immediate – from analyzing the urgent bark of a baboon, to the strong scent left by a predator or an elephant or simply enjoying the early morning smells of the sage plant, fresh from the first dew.
Walking safaris come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but broadly speaking, one country lends itself to the most amazing walking safaris, and that country is Zambia. It is an incredibly game rich country with the most amazing standard of guiding! It is the spiritual home to some of the finest African walking safaris.
The season for African walking safaris is June-October, which is the cooler months.
In the south Luangwa national park, there is only one outfit which operates a true mobile safari – that is, over a five night period, walking from to three different camps with one to two nights spent in each. Here one walks with nothing more than a pair of binoculars and this is no route march! About 7-10 kms is covered each day at an incredibly leisurely while learning about the homeopathic properties of plants and trees. There are also static bushcamps in both north and south Luangwa. The Kafue region also offers exceptional walking safaris with fewer tourists.
The Selous in southern Tanzania offers superb walking and flycamping on an individual basis and while not as game rich as northern Tanzania where there are walking safaris in the Serengeti and Ngorongoro highlands, it is more beautiful and pristine. The Mana Pools region in Zimbabwe offers sensational walking and the wild dog population is excellent; as does Gonarezhou.
In Kenya, in the Kakamega Forest and the Rift valley in general, there is some of the best guiding and birding with one of Kenya's top guides. However you decide to undergo your walking safari in Africa, if you choose one of these places, you will never be disappointed!
One learns so much more on foot: the scent of sage plants comes alive in the early morning dew; the medicinal properties of plants and trees are explained in full detail and the adrenaline courses through one's veins when tracking an elephant on foot, keeping downwind, moving with the herd. One learns about spoor-marks, identifying game paths and movements that have taken place during the night, and following the tracks of nocturnal creatures.