A walk in the wild: walking safaris in Africa

For a true chance to experience the African bush up close and personal nothing beats a walking safari. Many camps offer walks out into the bush and it is something that can be done as part of an organised trip with a professional guide. Setting off on your own for a trip into the African bush would be extremely dangerous but guided walks are an excellent way of exploring the stunning scenery and getting up close to some of the less predatory animals in the African savannah! Walking through the bush with nothing but the sound of your breathing is a completely different experience to the normal game drive. All your senses are heightened and every sound and every movement becomes momentous.

The best way of really getting the most out of a trip like this is to book a specialised walking safari where walking is part of the daily itinerary and the majority of game viewing is done on foot. In Zambia the Luangwa National Park is widely said to be the birthplace of the walking safari. The area around the Luangwa River with its oxbow lagoons and islands is home to a fantastic concentration of wildlife. One of the stalwarts of the original walking safari Robin Pope has been leading walking safaris in this area for over twenty years. He has built up an expert team of guides who continue on his work and an expert guide is essential!

The walking guide will enable you to get the most out of your experience. He or she will be able to identify the animals, birds and plants around you. They will teach you to use your senses and to look for tracks and clues that are around you in the bush. You will learn a huge amount about the flora and fauna of the Africa bush and about the natural environment – so much so that you really will take home a much better understanding of the African world.

Walking safaris also offer you other opportunities. If for example you are a keen photographer or bird watcher these trips allow you many possibilities you may not otherwise encounter to get really close to your subject.

Another variant on a walking safari is the mobile camp safari. With these kind of holidays you walk every day from one place to another exploring the bush while a back-up team carries all the tents and camping kit to your overnight campsite and gets the camp ready for your arrival. These are great fun and they give you the chance to really visit some remote places that are not accessible by car in wonderfully unspoilt and undiscovered scenery.

Another fun option is to take on the popular night-time safari walking tours that some camps and lodges offer. Again these are limited to certain areas where it is safe to do so and are done only with expert guides in charge. They give you a unique opportunity to witness the nocturnal goings on around your camp that you would normally miss out on.

You can do guided walks and walking safaris in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Kenya and Tanzania.