Follow in the footsteps of legends
Throughout history African exploration has happened on foot, on expeditions out into the unknown. From the earliest peoples like the San in the south and the Nilotic tribes in the north, the only way to discover new hunting grounds and grazing for livestock was to head out into the wilderness and walk until ideal territory presented itself.
The first European explorers traversed Africa on foot, going on “safaris” that helped to open it up to colonial settlement and trade and changed the face of the “Dark Continent”. So walking across the vast landscapes of the African wilderness is an intrinsic part of the culture and tradition of the pioneering spirit.
Today, walking is still the best way to experience the true nature of wild Africa, albeit in considerably more comfort than the pioneers of old were used to.Modern clothing and equipment makes walking an absolute pleasure and one of the highlights of any African safari. Which is why we absolutely love it and recommend it as perhaps the ultimate safari experience.
So where is best to do a walking safari and what’s involved?
The good news is that the options are as diverse as the African wilderness, ranging from a couple of hours’ walking in the mornings in stead of a game activity to multiple-day walking trails where you overnight in the bush in simple fly camps as you go.
You can walk in some of the most celebrated bucket-list destinations in Africa or opt for off-the-beaten track hidden gems that are far from the traditional safari circuits. Whichever you choose, you know you are going to have an authentic, immersive experience par excellence. So let’s have a look at a few of the options and walking destinations we love…
In an exclusive and remote area of the western Okavango Delta is the Kweene River system, home to Beagle Expeditions’ fabulous Kweene Trails, a multi-day mobile safari that explores this wild and spectacular corner of paradise that’s only accessible by helicopter!
Liesl and Vanessa spent 4 days on the Kweene Trail and loved every second of being OFF. THE. GRID. They’re now converts of ‘no wifi in camp‘ …. You will survive without it for a few days, we promise! There’s something incredibly luxurious about being disconnected. It’s the luxury of TIME! When you’re in the middle Botswana, time stands still. You have no way of telling whether you’re in a time 20 years back or 2000 years back. This is an incredible sensation that you won’t feel until you properly disconnect from your online life.
Botswana’s equally stunning Makgadikgadi Pans and breathtaking Kalahari are ripe for exploring on foot in the company of Africa’s First People – the San. Guests at Jack’s Camp, San Camp and Meno a Kwena are offered the chance to go out with local San guides to discover the secrets of survival in such a challenging environment.
Cultural walking encounters are also top of the list of safari experiences in Tanzania, where you can immerse yourself in local Masai and Hadzabe lore on a four-day expedition combined with five nights at Serian’s Serengeti South camp. Local Hadzabe and Maasai guides engage you in traditional folklore and explain how they collect and use herbs for traditional cures. Porters carry the camp equipment and all your basic needs are catered for.
In Kenya, at Ol Donyo’s Chyulu Hills, the chance to walk with Maasai guides across the Amboseli Plains beneath the towering, iconic peak of Kilimanjaro is not to be missed, especially when breakfast is served in the shade of a tall umbrella thorn!
You can also walk up Kilimanjaro, of course. It’s probably the biggest walk you will ever do, but it’s absolutely possible and the opportunity to stand atop the highest peak in Africa is irresistible. Likewise, walking trails up Mount Kenya are also available and easily do-able.
In South Africa’s Greater Kruger National Park, walking is generally part of the standard safari activity offering, often replacing the early morning game drive in favour of exploring on foot with a qualified, professional safari guide. There’s definitely a unique thrill to walking in Big Five country, especially when you come across rhino or fresh lion or leopard tracks! This is where you’ll also find some smaller, non Big Five private game reserves that offer walking to families with small children, thanks to the absence of these dangerous species. Talk to us for some recommendations!
South Africa is also famous for its wonderful coastal walks with some of the best trails on offer in this respect. From the Garden Route’s Otter Trail to the Whale Trail on De Hoop Nature Reserve in the Western Cape, where it’s possible to walk from the gorgeous Lekkerwater Beach Lodge to Morokuru Beach Lodge! Or how about hiking in the Drakensberg or Cedarberg, or even a hike on Cape Town’s fabulous Table Mountain.
Of course, the ultimate walks in Africa take place in Rwanda and Uganda when you go gorilla trekking! Most definitely for the fit and determined as the ground you cover can be slippery, steep and challenging, there is no better reward for a long, difficult walk than to spend an hour in the company of the endangered mountain gorilla.