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African Walking Safaris

Walking the wide, open African savannah in the company of an expert guide is the ultimate African safari experience. The guide can point out medicinal plants and tiny creatures and tells you stories of life in the bush. A long walking safari will give you a greater understanding of the ecosystem, and its animals and plants than any jeep safari ever can. When you do see animals, it comes with the thrill of knowing that nothing stands between them and you. Altogether, a long walk through the African wilderness might be one of the greatest and most rewarding adventures you embark on.

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1-20 of 46 African walking safaris, tours, packages, trips, holidays and vacations

6 Questions About Walking Safari Tours


6 Questions About Walking Safari Tours

Answered by Stuart Butler

Why should I choose a walking safari?

“While a classic jeep safari allows you some super-close encounters with large mammals, an African walking safari allows you to see, smell, touch and hear the African wilderness in a way that no jeep safari can. Walking will see you gain a far greater depth of understanding of the African bush. You can see all the little creatures and plants that are so vital in the ecosystem and easily overlooked when traveling in a jeep. You will also be working your muscles by walking, a rare thing on a jeep safari! Combine this closeness to nature with the sheer pleasure of not being jeep-bound for perhaps the most memorable safari holiday you’ll ever go on.”


What exactly does this type of safari involve?

“There are two different kinds of walking safari. The easiest, and most advertised, is a short bush walk lasting anything from an hour to half a day. Many safari companies, camps and lodges offer these. They are not always in national parks, where walking is often forbidden. During this type of walking tour, your guide will point out various medicinal plants, the tracks and marks of passing animals and interesting insects. With a little luck, you’ll see larger mammals from a distance. A longer and more challenging multiday trip involves a lot more effort and energy. These kinds of safaris involve camping in remote spots in the bush. Your guide will wake you at dawn with a hot drink. While you eat breakfast, the tents will be dismantled. Walking will start early while it’s still cool and you’ll go at a relaxed pace for a few hours. The guide will point out things of interest and tell you stories from the bush. Lunch will probably be a generous picnic under the shade of an acacia tree. After lunch, there will be another couple of hours’ walking to the night spot. Camp will have already been set up. All you have to do is remove your boots, sit back with a drink and enjoy the sunset. An excellent camp dinner will be served before an early night. You’ll lie in your tent listening to the growls and squeals of the African bush at night. It’s an experience you’ll never forget!”


What fitness level is required?

“Most walking safaris are little more than gentle walks of no more than an hour or two, along flat ground. For these sorts of tours, also known as bush walks, you don’t need any exceptional level of fitness. Some safari companies offer much more serious, multiday walking safaris. Again, the walking itself is normally easy, and along flat or gently undulating terrain. Day-to-day distances are moderate as well; 15–20km/24–32mi would be the max. There’s always lots of time to rest and take in the scenery and wildlife. The challenge on such walks is often the sun. Lower altitude parks in particular can get very hot and this heat can drain energy levels quickly. Always try and avoid a walking safari at the hottest time of year. Your guides will be your eyes and ears and constantly alert for wildlife dangers. However, they are not superhuman, and can miss things. Therefore, it’s important that you keep your wits about you as well, which can be tiring on a long, hot walk. Broadly, if you can walk across easy land all day at home then you can likely do it on a multiday African walking safari.”


What wildlife will I see? How safe is it?

“To animals, humans are bad news and should be given a wide berth. Most large creatures run away at the first indication of people walking through their environment. While you will see large mammals, mostly these sightings are fleeting, or from a distance. Very occasionally, however, we have had some heart-stopping and memorable close encounters on foot with almost all of Africa’s most large animals. And this is where the training of your guide is most valuable. Most usually though, what you will see are all the little things: marching safari ants, sun-bathing lizards, slow tortoises, colorful birds, and more. All these encounters will deepen your understanding of the African savannah. How safe is a walking safari? An experienced guide will reduce your chances of a dangerous wildlife encounter to a bare minimum. A good guide will read the situation, understand the temperament of the animal and calmly and safely remove you from a situation before it develops. It is therefore very important to do your research and choose your operator, and therefore guide, carefully. This particularly applies to budget safaris.”


What are the typical costs of a walking safari?

“If you’re heading out on a couple of hours’ bush walk, it’s not likely to cost very much at all. Note that if you’re staying in a top-end camp, bush walks are usually included in the overall package price. For a multiday walking tour, you’ll naturally pay much more. In most cases, these kinds of safaris tend to be operated by upper-end safari companies and you’ll pay accordingly. Even though you’ll be staying in small tents and roughing it, this kind of safari often costs more than a standard luxury jeep safari. In some areas outside protected zones, local communities can organize longer walking safaris. These are much more affordable and allow more opportunities for genuine cultural interaction, and there’ll still be plenty of wildlife to see.”


What should I consider when choosing this type of safari?

“If you’re planning on a longer multiday package. it’s important to pick the right time of year for your destination. It’s best to avoid the hotter times of year and the heart of the wet season. Often the best period is just after the rainy season has finished. The landscapes will be fresh and green, and the temperatures pleasant. If you’re hoping to walk around a national park or other protected area, check in advance that walking safaris are allowed. While many national parks don’t allow walking, reserves and conservancies often do. You should also consider whether you have the stamina to walk under the burning African sun for several days. Do your research about the possibility of an on-foot encounter with a large animal. Ask your tour operator for advice on how to respond in the unlikely event of this happening. In almost all cases, a walking safari with children in areas rich in large mammals is not likely to be allowed, or simply isn’t safe.”