Qualified safari guide and Africa Destination Expert, Annie White, explains why a walking safari is one of the most magical ways to experience the bush.
1. Awaken your senses
Without the noise of a vehicle engine, you can hear every bird call, every impala bark, every bush rustle. You will smell the wildflowers, touch the trunks of trees, observe the movement around you and taste the fruits of the forest – it’s exciting, thrilling and allows for total immersion into the wilderness.
2. Learn to read your surroundings
Animal spoor tells a story, as does dung and the way grass is flattened. By following and understanding tracks and signs, you can build an image of the animal and its movements without ever seeing it. You can find out how long-ago animals were in the area, where they were going and at what speed – and even perhaps why they were on the move.
3. Learn about the smaller things
Travelling on foot allows you to see things that might be missed in a vehicle. Learn about insects, amphibians and reptiles and their role within the ecosystem. Learn about the shrubs and trees and their historical and medicinal values.
4. A new perspective
There is nothing more exciting than viewing a wild animal on foot without them knowing you are there. Of course, this is not always the case and much of the time the animals are aware of your presence. Learn about how the sun and wind influence their behaviour and, in turn, how this affects how they react to you – your guide will interpret their behaviours to keep you safe.
Walking allows you to access areas that a vehicle cannot. Explore riverbeds, rocky kopjes, forests and much more. It’s a privilege to be able to walk where few humans have ever before.
6. The ultimate birding
Love twitching? Getting out and about on foot can give you the finest viewing of the avian kind, plus greater flexibility in terms of where you can go. Follow the calls of the greater honeyguide or meander along riverbanks in search of pel’s fishing owl.
7. Reduce your carbon footprint
A multiday walking safari is a great way to enjoy every aspect of the bush whilst generating an extremely low carbon footprint. Spend the days in search of wildlife and the most exquisite wilderness areas and bed down at night in a luxurious mobile camp, leaving no trace of your presence.
For many, safari is as much about the food as it is about the wildlife. The opportunity to walk for a morning allows you to stretch your legs and burn off some of the exceptional cuisine you will have been enjoying throughout your trip, whilst also viewing animals and learning lots of new things.