What to expect on a Walking Safari
Why a walking safari?
Putting your foot print on African soil - walking the wild bush, is an exciting and intense form of safari experience. That is how it was done long before 4x4 vehicles arrived. Whether it is an early morning 3hrs walking safari and return to your lodge, or a more prolonged 4 - 5 days wildlife bush trekking walk, it remains an exhilarating experience – often called a foot safari.
The difference between a game drive and a walking safari is that you now become part of the daily newspaper of the bush. It’s your foot imprint on top of many other game tracks before you. We teach you how to walk in the bush and help you to interpret the more subtle and exciting signs of the bush which a normal person will simply overlook. The aim is to enjoy our bush in a natural way in such a manner that the animals don’t even know you are there – and normally one can get quite close to wildlife without threatening the animals.
Learn to accentuate your senses – especially smell and hearing and you will discover a new world. Animals don’t see colours but can clearly distinguish between shades. It’s therefore important to dress in safari colours that would blend into the shades of the bush, like khaki and safari green. Try to follow fresh tracks. It might suddenly and unexpectedly bring you up close to a herd of buffalos or elephants.
Watching game from the comfort of your vehicle seat is therefore a different experience from walking in the environment. But you must do both in order to understand and enjoy the bush nature. Observing wildlife from a vehicle is like looking at a storybook. Walking in the bush you become part of the story. Whilst a game drive definitely brings you closer to wildlife with good close up pictures, you are now off- road and this is a completely different and exiting experience with all the beautiful bush scents around you. Few people know that in the bush, the ancient elephant paths in Africa have today become even national roads since the elephant herds over centuries were used to take the most natural route between destinations, creating entrenched large walking paths which villagers then also used.
Planning and executing a walking safari
The best time for a walking safari is early in the morning at 06:30 – 10:00 because animals are starting to move and the air is fresh and clear. Afternoon walks start late afternoon at 15:00 to 18:00 which covers the time animals start to look for water to drink. A Trekking Safari is continuous walking over a couple of days with a relaxing lunch rest as well as sleepovers in comfortable dome tents along the way. Still another option is a few days walking safari operating from a stationary bush camp with breakfast, lunch and dinner at the camp. All our walking and trekking safaris are led by experienced and armed field guides.
On a walking safari, your field guide will always arrange the walk to ensure it is at a customised pace and distance for the specific guests. When approaching game, especially with dangerous game, your guide will assess the situation and determine the wind direction to your advantage in order to get closer to the animals, usually from a downwind position so they don't smell you and using available cover so they don’t notice you. But not that close that the animals feel threatened. I have experienced that all animals have a comfort zone in which they are at ease with your presence, but also a danger zone in which they feel uncomfortable and sometimes threatened. Your armed field guide will expertly assess the situation with your security in mind, especially when approaching one of the Big 5. Before you can embark on a walking safari, you will be given a comprehensive safety briefing by your guide who will explain how you have to walk and communicate and take pictures as well as the emergency procedures involved.
Your packing list
Ensure you have a reasonable degree of fitness. A walking safari is not an endurance race. Your guide will use a comfortable pace and spend time to show and explain you the track and signs of wildlife and nature. Prepare by bring with:
- Comfortable closed walking shoes/boots and neutral coloured clothing as explained above. A long sleeved shirt can always be rolled up when it’s hot.
- Hats or peak caps in neutral colours and sunglasses
- A good pair of binoculars (normally a 8x 30) for spotting wildlife and getting a closer look.
- A small photo/film camera
- A water bottle and some chewing sweets
A few days bush trekking safari is a different kettle of fish and you will require a more detailed package list which we will supply.