"The only true way to know a country is to walk it"
"The only true way to know a country is to walk it"
Humans have been placing one foot in front of the other for millions of years now and walking remains one of our most primal activities that is open to almost everybody.
As we are in the memory-making business, we believe that a memorable safari experience is about the sum of the many parts. Skilfully crafted combinations of place, people, and opportunity. And there is surely no more meaningful ingredient than quality time spent on a walking safari.
Moving slowly through the African wilderness, pausing to examine a set of fresh tracks left in the reddish soil, it’s here that we truly connect with those who came before us hundreds of generations ago.
Africa is known as the birth of civilisation – the place where it all began. Humans have been wandering these lands for over six million years, and today, even with our modern technology and transportation, there’s still nothing quite like strapping a bag to your back and setting off on foot in the search of adventure.
A walking safari is exactly what it says on the tin – an unforgettable African safari where instead of rumbling around in a jeep searching for wildlife, you do so on foot.
Walking safaris are possible at the majority of our selected destinations, lodges, or camps and provide a unique form of safari quite unlike anything else on offer. We are proud to provide some of the best walking safaris in Africa, so whether you’re looking at South Africa, Namibia, Tanzania, or Zimbabwe – to name just a few – there is no better way to see these spectacular landscapes and the wild animals that inhabit them than on a walking safari.
For many people, the idea of walking through an admittedly beautiful landscape, but in the presence of countless animals that could either eat, gorge, or trample you might sound like absolute lunacy.
But we certainly don’t have a death wish and the guides that we use are following traditions and methods that have been used for thousands of years. The presence of Big Game should not be seen as a deterrent and all our guides are qualified and proficient in handling any encounters that may arise.
It is our philosophy, of course, to respect the right of way of wild animals and to maintain safe distances at all times. All our walking guides require a higher level of qualification, one with a special emphasis on animal interactions, safety awareness, and a greater appreciation of behaviour.
Walking is a specialised safari culture and all of our guides are not only suitably qualified in their area of operation but have years of experience to match – an essential combination when operating walking trails in Big Game country.
When you think about a safari you probably have an image of a group of people crammed into the back of a jeep as it creeps through the African wilderness.
Walking safaris are completely different. No jeep, no comfy seat where you can slumber peacefully under Africa’s fierce sun, nothing that stands between you and the real African – an experience you’ll never forget.
Any kind of walking is not only excellent for the body and the mind but moving at a sedate pace through any landscape allows us to connect with it in a way that is impossible with faster modes of transportation. If you really want to throw yourself into the deep end and really feel Africa’s famed red earth under your feet, you need to experience a walking safari at some point. It’s quite unlike any other experience we offer, but in many ways, it is the simplest and purest way of seeing Africa.
While we’d love to say that all fitness levels can be accommodated, it’s important to be clear, both to yourself and with us, about how far and how willing you are to walk. Many of our walking safaris pass through wilderness zones that are far from civilisation and while most lodges provide vehicles that can be used in emergencies, ideally they aren’t used because somebody doesn’t want to complete a walking safari.
To put it plainly, if you struggle to walk a mile or two back in your home country, you might want to think carefully about whether a walking safari is for you. But we don’t want anybody to feel like they can’t participate in the activities we offer, so even if it’s just a slow-paced mile to give you a sense of what walking in Africa is really like, we’ll do everything we can to make it happen.
It’s important to remember that we, and our partners, will never put you in a position where you need to walk further than you feel comfortable. Walking safaris can range anywhere from an hour or two, to an entire day’s walking, depending on the schedule set out by the lodges or guides.
A game drive is normally about searching for Big Game or traversing different habitats. It’s about covering plenty of ground, but there’s always a lot happening with fine fascinating details that often cannot be absorbed from the back of a game viewer.
A combination of both is certainly possible and recommended. Or even better still, slurp some coffee at the sunrise campfire and head out on an extended walking safari tracking and stalking Big Game along the way. A picnic back-packed brunch is the standard operating procedure before returning to base for a hearty meal and some hammock-time.
It’s also possible to arrange a dedicated walking safari, based on a selection of base camp styles, should you be interested in pushing on further and deeper. It’s more about depth than distance out there, and walks are not considered ‘hikes’ in the true sense; they are easy-paced affairs.
However, our tailored multi-day itineraries can be modified to accommodate any special interests, and our well-known brand of personalised flexibility comes standard. Many of our safari concessions set aside wilderness zones for these products, where the impact of sounds, signs, roads, vehicles, or camps is near to non-existent.
It may also be possible to access these wildlands by traditional dugout canoes. For example in the Okavango Delta in Botswana where dugouts are the most effective mode to explore remote islands and back-waters. These are ultra-secluded wilderness experiences – the pure form of safari travel if you like.
Perhaps it’s the silence out there that’s almost deafening. Without any artificial barriers between us, a special union with the environment is the result. We become an integral part of the landscape, as much as the giraffe, the impala, the elephants, the birds, the insects, and the plants.
Walking is ideal to discover more about the finer details; the ecology, animal behaviour, tracks and sign, birdsong, medicinal plants, smells, ancient traditions and so much more. Did you know that there is more biomass of termites beneath the ground than all the wildebeest, buffalo, and elephants in Africa?
Underground Africa is a thriving place and termites are essential to the vibrancy of plant communities, soil health, and energy cycles. There is life or signs of life around every corner and in every direction. And with the help of an experienced walking guide, you will have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get a glimpse into Africa’s exciting secretive world.
For us, the highlight of any walking trail is the opportunity to study tracks. The information that animals, birds, and insects leave behind can be interpreted and weaved into ecological stories with incredible detail – a rudimentary bush Google if you will.
This ancient art comes alive on foot, and tracking and stalking Big Game is surely one of the most exciting and memorable of all safari activities. Your senses are alive with anticipation as a fresh footprint or a broken branch indicates that an animal is nearby. Wild animals, by default, are shy of us whilst out on foot and will go out of their way to avoid us. Some, such as giraffes or elephants, may become curious, while others may be indifferent and most antelope are ever wary.
These are all primaeval reactions, born from millennia of genetic memory, and walking in this environment is like going back in time to our own distant pasts.
Tuning into Africa at ground level is where a special kind of magic begins, where the sounds, smells, and sensations weave together a rich tapestry that makes a walking safari our favoured way of seeing Africa. This is one experience that will remain with you until your last breath.
Contact safariFRANK to get started on your safari of a lifetime!