Walking safaris offer guests an exhilarating option to view wildlife. Kim Emmanuel looks at some of the ones that offer an extra twist.
1. Zen guided walk
The Outpost, a lodge in the Big Five Makuleke Contractual Park in the northern Kruger National Park, offers guests a meditative walking safari experience known as the Zen guided walk. The walk is carried out in silence and encourages travellers to simply enjoy the walk. “By dropping the usual social chatter, we're able to fully immerse ourselves into our surroundings and be one with nature,” said Lauren Ritchie, CEO of Rare Earth Retreats. “In our age of noise and distractions, quietening the mind like that can be a very refreshing and healing experience.”
Ritchie says that time in a nature reserve is usually dominated by a tendency to actively do something, such as taking photographs, actively taking part in some form of physical exercise, travelling from one place to another (usually as quickly as possible), providing names for all the species of mammals, plants, insects, birds and trees that are observed. While there is nothing wrong with these activities, Ritchie says a focus on them can lead to travellers forgetting to engage all their senses when experiencing the natural environment.
There are many different areas within the park to enjoy the walk, each offering a different experience.
The walk is on offer year round, however Ritchie suggests that winter is better as it’s not as hot and the vegetation is less dense. The walking safari can last anything from one to five hours depending on how keen the walkers are. Wildlife likely to be spotted include elephants, buffalo, incredible bird life, and a range of insects.
2. Forest walk with treehouse dining
Nature walks on Fregate Island in the Seychelles offer guests insight into the island’s ecosystem, says Lylie Moolman, General Manager at Giltedge Ocean Islands. Guests are accompanied by a resident conservationist who shares information on the island’s wildlife and allows guests to assist and observe in fieldwork. Fieldwork could include searching for tiny sea turtle hatchlings emerging from their nests or checking nest boxes for eggs or chicks.
After the walk, guests have the option of enjoying a fine-dining experience in a treehouse in one of the island’s oldest banyan trees. Guests can choose their ingredients with the Chef de Cuisine beforehand from a wide variety of exotic vegetables, herbs and fruits.
3. Four-day walking safari experience
Credit: Natureways Safaris
Travellers in search of an extended walking safari will enjoy the Mana Shoreline Walking Safari in Zimbabwe from Natureways Safaris.
Guests leave their mobile camp early in the morning and walk to the next camp. On arrival, they are greeted with a cold drink, hot shower and dinner. This three-night, four-day safari follows the Zambezi River through the Mana Pools National Park. The walk begins near the confluence of the Ruckomechi River and Zambezi River and continues along the Mana Pools shoreline.
A fully qualified professional guide accompanies guests at all times. Guests are likely to see various wildlife species, ranging from a tiny insect to an elephant roaming the park, providing incredible photographic opportunities.
4. Rhino tracking walking safari
An artist’s impression of the new Thorntree River Lodge.
African Bush Camps’ new lodge, Thorntree River Lodge, which opens in May, will offer walking safaris in Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park in Zambia to track White rhino on foot.
The rhino walk is either a morning or an afternoon activity and usually lasts a few hours. The walk will be offered all year round and is an inclusive activity when staying at Thorntree River Lodge. The walk will be accompanied by a professional guide.
“You are able to get quite close to the rhinos while on foot – it is quite magical actually,” said Jemma Macmillan, Marketing & PR Wiz.
Mankwe Game Trackers also offers rhino tracking walks in the Pilanesberg area under the care of an armed field guide. Walks depart daily in the early morning.
5. Super Sensory safari experience
Credit: African Bush Camps
While African Bush Camps’ recently launched Super Sensory safari experience doesn’t only focus on walking, it does include walking elements. Zimbabwe’s Mana Pools is also one of the best areas in Africa for a walking safari, says Macmillan.
This set departure itinerary in April will see guests exploring camps in Mana Pools – Kanga Camp and Zambezi Expeditions – through the lens of biomimicry. Each of African Bush Camps’ camps has several qualified walking guides, which means that there is no need for guests to pre-book a walking safari.
Children can also enjoy their own version of a walking safari. Bush walks around African Bush Camps’ camps for children form part of the ‘cub club’. The children are accompanied by a qualified guide and walk around camp, discovering the delights of the bush around them.