While Africa is famous for traditional 4×4 game drives in a sturdy land-cruiser. but sometimes in the rush you miss many small things. Such things are best experienced on a walking safari, which actually opens up a new dimension in your wildlife interpretation journey. You are able to feel, smell and experience many flora and fauna which are not possible on a game drive. As for Fauna, we are not referring to the big cats, but smaller beings like chameleons, birds, insects and many other hidden secrets which also contribute to the ecosystem of Africa. Typically you are guided and guarded by local guides and guards on these walking trails. At many places these happen in big cat territory as well, but there is nothing to worry about as long as you are in the safe hands of your guides and guards. Here we curate some of the best walking safari experiences in Africa.
Chiefs Island, Botswana
Chiefs Island is the largest island in the world’s largest delta (Okavango). This walking safari doesn’t stick to just walking; you can explore the backwaters and waterways in a traditional dug-out canoe called Mokoro. The site provides you with excellent game-viewing opportunities, as well as a glimpse of numerous rare-bird species. Visitors can enjoy breathtakingly beautiful landscapes, and also catch animals like hippos, bush elephants, zebras, and wildebeest. Situated on the north-western tip of Chief’s Island, the Mombo Concession, which is the most famous game-viewing area in the region.
Kruger, South Africa
Only a tiny fraction of the Kruger National Park is accessible by vehicle. However, numerous walking safari tours offer great opportunities to witness the local wildlife. Towards the far north, the Nyalaland Trail is arguably the best-guided walking safari in Kruger. This is home to large buffalo and elephant herds, apart from the diverse flora, like the baobab trees. Apart from this, private reserves like Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, and Sabi Sands offer interactive bush walks across the wilderness. Zambia Safari is also a popular option among tourists; it offers extraordinary dry-season walking safaris, accompanied by cosy camping along the way.
Masai Mara, Kenya
Masai Mara is perhaps the most famous safari park on the planet, and a walking safari here is quite a lifetime experience. You can encounter many mammals like Elephants, Giraffes, Zebras, Topis, Impalas, Wildebeests amongst others, and occasionally a Lion too! The walks usually happen in one of the private conservancies where you go in the company of a local guide who interprets the local nature for you, be it the flora or the fauna. After the adventure of a walking safari in the unending plains of the Mara, you can surely boast of your achievement and call yourself an explorer!
Quite possibly one of the best Safari destinations in the world, Serengeti is home to the Big-5 predators, as well as the Great Wildebeest Migration. Walking across Serengeti’s rolling grasslands gives travellers an unparalleled experience. Due to the exceptional amount of wildlife available here, this place is popular among tourists. If you prefer a crowd-free and tranquil experience, you may visit the Loliondo Game Controlled Area or Ikorongo Game Reserve. Local Masai warriors accompany you along bushwalks, treating you to an authentic African walking safari experience. The wide grasslands and open plains mean that wildlife-spotting is easy here. Serengeti provides a wide variety of accommodation options; from luxurious lodges to comfortable camps.
This place is rightly called “Africa’s best kept secret”, considering only 1% of visitors to Tanzania go on a Safari here. Multi-day walking safaris here are more suited to the hardened adventurers, with its rugged terrain and rocky outcrops. The people who do visit this place, though, are treated to the spectacular scenery and diverse wildlife. Ruaha is home to the largest elephant herds in Africa. Lion, leopard, and cheetah also find their home here. You can also spot buffalo, zebra, giraffe, kudu, and roan antelope. The peak game season at Ruaha is between May and November when watercourses are filled with hippos and crocodiles. Bird watching is a delight, especially during November when more than 570 different bird species can be found here. For accommodation, you have a variety of options, from spectacular seaside lodges to tented camps.
Selous, South Africa
Spread across more than 50,000 square kilometres (about four times the size of Serengeti), this is the largest game reserve in the world. This is a UNESCO protected site, and is home to a wide variety of species, from the Big 5 predators to giraffe, hippo, elephants, and antelope. Walking Safari in Selous has been going on since the 1980s, with many different options available. The highlight of the Selous Game Reserve is the Rufiji river which forms an interconnected series of lakes and channels. A walking safari alongside the river will bring you close to huge crocodiles, elephants, and birds like storks and spoonbills. Guided walking safaris can last from a few hours to multiple day-excursions, where expert guides and armed rangers accompany you. Accommodation is available near the majestic Rufiji river, in the form of luxurious safari lodges.
South Luangwa, Zambia
The original walking safari began here in the 1950s, and this place still retains the roots of what the walking safari used to be five decades ago. Unlike the sprawling lodges common in the other parts of Africa, this place has small and intimate camps. This place is home to one of the densest leopard populations in Africa. It is also home to the Big-4 predators (the rhino is local to only North Luangwa). You can also enjoy other wildlife such as Thornicroft’s giraffes and rare African wild dogs. This place gives you a glimpse of the deep and wild Africa, and you can enjoy all this on foot, as you traverse the thick foliage and various lakes and rivers. These are a magnet for buffalo and elephant, as well as predators like lion and leopard.
Bwindi is known for the mountain gorilla families residing here, nine habituated groups are settled in the mountains. The mountain treks here differ in terms of length, elevation, size of the trekking group, and other preferences. So, visitors can enjoy their preferred safari. The Uganda Wildlife Authority runs the Gorilla Habituation Experience, where you can visit the gorilla families residing in the Rushaga sector. Visitors can spend four hours observing these creatures closely and can also contribute to the efforts to ensure the survival of these animals. You can spend four days in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest, where, apart from spotting gorillas, you can also spot monkeys, birds, and other wildlife.
Amber Mountains, Madagascar
The Amber Mountain National Park is famous for its beautiful landscape, with numerous lakes and waterfalls supporting diverse wildlife and plant life, a lot of which is endemic to this region. Beautiful trails threading to the forest are a treat for walkers. Venturing into the forest, you can spot tree boas, leaf-mimic chameleons, leaf-tailed geckos, pill millipedes, and butterflies. Any trip to Madagascar is incomplete without witnessing the famous lemurs. Seven different lemur species, including Sanford’s brown lemur and crowned lemur, can be spotted as you trudge along the trail. For accommodation, you can enjoy the rural Malagasy life in the nearby village of Joffreville.
We hope you enjoyed reading this curated list of walking safaris in different parts of Africa. If you loved the concept, do ask for a walking safari when you plan your trip to Africa for us, trust us you will not regret! Rather this will become your moment of glory and these will be the kind of stories you would like to narrate to your grandchildren one day!
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