An African typical safari for most travelers consists of game drives. Game viewing drives allow you to cover a vast distance swiftly. Moreover, wild animals are accustomed to cars, enabling you to enjoy an amazing safari experience.
However, there are other types of safaris. Instead of going on game drives, why not book a walking safari in Africa?
This will enable you to discover the picturesque landscape as well as the African wildlife from another perspective.
Why go on a walking safari? Walking safaris allows you to immerse yourself in your surroundings. They often take place in an untamed region of Africa.
As a result, you get to experience a safari in its purest form. You can see things, smell, and hear sounds that you would otherwise miss on a game drive. Follow in the footsteps of our ancestors by experiencing a classic African walking safari.
To be able to enjoy fully your walking safari you need to be in good physical health. Bushwalks last a few hours and span over several days depending on the type of safari that you choose.
So, the Question Becomes, How Do I Get There?
Some locations will be accessible by road so that you can drive there. They offer permanent camps with all the amenities (electricity, shower, toilets).
However, some walking safaris take place in very remote regions of Africa. Therefore, the only way to reach your destination is by flying in.
This type of walking safari is called fly-camp. You are staying at a temporary camp set up in the bush. Armed rangers will guide you. Close encounters with Africa’s wildlife are guaranteed!
Many lodges offer day walks, which take place either in the morning or in the afternoon. You get to explore the bush surrounding the camp accompany by a guide.
Great opportunity to learn about birds, plants, and insects living in the bushes. Safari companies will offer day walks during the downtime between game drives.
Best Walking Safaris Destinations in Africa
Botswana, Kenya, Namibia, and Tanzania offer walking safaris. However, these countries lack strong national guidelines for the training of the guides.
Do your homework before booking a walking safari in these countries. You should hire experienced guides and check their credentials thoroughly.
To experience a safari adventure of a lifetime, you need to find the right tour guide. It is of the utmost importance that you get along well with him/or her. You also have to follow every instruction given by your tour guide while exploring the bush. Safety first!
Moreover, keep in mind that walking safari is also a learning experience. So, you want a guide that can provide you with a wealth of information about the wildlife you are seeing.
The top-rated destinations for a walking safari are Zimbabwe and Zambia. Other destinations such as South Africa, Botswana, and Tanzania enclose excellent spots for walking safaris.
I have listed here some of the best walking safari destinations on the African continent.
Mana Pools National Park
Zimbabwe is by far the best destination for a walking safari in Africa. Why? Zimbabwe has a rigorous training program for its tour guides.
As a result, the Zimbabwean guides are the most knowledgeable and experienced on the African continent.
The Mana Pools National Park is the destination most sought-after by tourists for a walking safari. The park is in the northern region of Zimbabwe bordering the Zambezi River.
The Mana Pools Park encompasses open floodplains, grasslands, and woodland with giant mahogany and acacia.
The dry season which spans the months of June to October is an excellent time to visit the Park.
The wildlife sightings include elephants, buffalos, zebras, and lions. Also, hippopotamuses and crocodiles can be spotted in the Zambezi River.
The Mana Pools National Park encloses more than 380 species of birds. The park is the perfect destination for bird lovers.
Matusadona National Park
The Matusadona National Park is on the shore of Lake Kariba. Many safari specialists have ranked the Park as one of the best destinations for a walking safari on the Dark Continent.
The park harbors a spectacular landscape ranging from flat plains to mountains.
Diverse wildlife is spread out across the Matusadona National Park. The Park is the host to the second biggest population of lions after the Ngorongoro Crater. Matusadona Park is also a sanctuary for black rhinoceros.
South Luangwa National Park
Zambia is well-known for its walking safari and offers a large selection of packages.
The South Luangwa National Park is the birthplace of a walking safari in Africa.
The park’s landscape encompasses dry woodlands with at its center the Luangwa River.
The river harbors a large population of crocodiles and hippopotamuses. The South Luangwa Park has a stunning array of wildlife including big herds of elephants, buffalos, giraffes, zebras, lions, and leopards to name a few.
Furthermore, the South Luangwa National Park is a birding paradise for bird watchers with more than 400 species of birds.
The Selous Game Reserve
The Selous Game Reserve is in the southern part of Tanzania. The Game Reserve is Africa’s largest game reserve. It covers more than 21 100 square miles (54 600 km²). The Selous Reserve is about three times the size of the Kruger National Park.
The Game Reserve is named after Sir Frederick Selous, a famous trophy hunter. Since it is nearly impossible to reach the Reserve by road, the best way to get there is either by plane or by train.
The panorama of the Selous Reserve ranges from grassy plains, woodland mountains, and forests. The Reserve also includes at its center the largest river of Tanzania, the Rufiji.
Roughly 90% of the Selous Game Reserve is allocated for game hunting. A broad spectrum of wildlife is roaming in the northern region of the Game Reserve, and alongside the Rufiji River. Moreover, this area is the most photographed in the Selous Reserve.
The Game Reserve is home to a substantial population of mammals. You will find buffalos, hippopotamuses, lions, wildebeests, zebras, and impalas only to list a few.
Furthermore, the Reserve is a sanctuary for the African wild dogs and Puku antelopes. Both are endangered species.
The Selous Game Reserve offers refuge to over 440 species of birds. The pink-backed pelicans, the African skimmer, and the giant kingfishers are found around the lakes in the Reserve.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is the oldest nature reserve in Africa. The park is to the north of Durban, and the closest town is Mtubatuba. A trail officer and a field guide will accompany you through the different trails within the park.
Various types of trails are available for walking safaris:
- Primitive trail: This trail is for outdoor adventurers or nature lovers. The accommodations are very rustic, to say the least! As you will be camping in the wilderness!
- The base camp trail: On this trail, you have the permanent Mdindini camp. You will stay there for the whole duration of your safari adventure. During the day, you will observe the wildlife and explore further the park’s landscape through bush walks.
- The explorer trail: This trail is a hybrid between the base camp trail and primitive trail. You will enjoy the comfort of the Mdindini camp on the first and the last night of your trip. Whereas for the rest of your walking safari, you will spend your nights in the wilderness, sleeping around a campfire and under the stars.
As you can see, there are different types of trails that you can choose from! So, you will have no problems finding the trail that fits your personal preferences!
However, no matter which tracks you select, there will be much walking involved. Therefore, your feet have to be healthy! To avoid any injuries, you need to buy the appropriate footwear for your walking safari.
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park has impressive wildlife diversity. Among the animals roaming in the park, here is a sneak preview:
- Big Five (elephants, lions, buffalos, rhinoceros, leopards).
Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park has the largest population of white rhinoceros in the world.
The Park harbors an abundant birdlife with more than 300 species of birds. Hluhluwe-Imfolozi Park is one of the best destinations for a birdwatching safari in South Africa.
Travel back in time through a walking safari! Get closer to the wildlife and experience a safari in its purest form as our ancestors did!
The best countries for a walking safari are without a doubt Zimbabwe and Zambia. However, Tanzania and South Africa are emerging as excellent destinations for a walking safari.
What makes or breaks your safari experience is your guide! So, choose an experienced and knowledgeable guide to walk you safely through the bushes!
You need to be in good physical health to undertake a walking safari. Moreover, you need to have the proper footwear that flawlessly snugs your feet to avoid any injuries! You don’t want to spend your vacation with sore feet and have to take care of blisters!
To get the most out of your walking safari adventure, click here to read my full review about hiking boots.
If you have any questions about walking safaris in Africa, please, leave a comment below. I am looking forward to hearing from you!