Walking Safari - Expert Travel Guide to Africa
Have you always dreamed of getting up close and personal to nature? Then a walking safari may be just the thing for you! It is a truly humbling experience, whilst on foot in the bush, to be taken a few steps down the food chain and find yourself eye level with an apex predator. Predators aside, a walking safari will also afford you the chance to get closer to a lot of the smaller animals that are not normally approachable when in a vehicle. But perhaps one of the most enjoyable parts of a walking safari is the time spent in nature, enjoying the sights and sounds of the bush, being able to immerse yourself in an experience that is totally opposite to our busy everyday lives. With specific focus on South Africa, Kenya and Botswana, here are some factors to consider when choosing your ultimate walking safari.
Best Time to Go
May-September (wildlife); November-April (birdwatching)
Average Safari Cost
Big Five, most immersive safari type, best way to explore South Africa, camping under the stars
Why Go on a Walking Safari in Africa
Experience the magical African terrain whilst watching wildlife upclose, including (depending on which Safari destination you choose) the Big 5! As with the traditional 4x4 Safaris, there is something for everyone when choosing a walking safari.
Your safari can be tailored around the diversity of animals that you would like to see, ranging from Big 5 to birding, or the type of accommodation that you would like to stay in – luxury tents or camping out under the stars? Or even the type of terrain that you would like to walk through – fever tree forests or acacia woodland plains?
Because of the sheer number of walking safaris’ operators and camps, South Africa has something suitable for everyone, whilst Kenya and Botswana’s main focus tends to be on the traditional 4x4 Safari, with walking safaris offered as an extra activity.
Many of the South African walking safaris operate out of the Kruger National Park. Daily flights and transfers to take guests into and out of the park make it very easily accessible.
Kenya and Botswana are, perhaps, a little less accessible than South Africa, but generally guests then have a more exclusive and intimate experience as there are fewer people around.
Pros and Cons
Considering the large number of operators that have them on offer, walking safaris in South Africa generally have a budget for everyone. Budgets range from $300 per person per night fully inclusive staying in a chalet at an intimate luxury private reserve that borders the Kruger National Park, to $400 per person fully catered but excluding drinks and conservation fee for a four night/five day walking trail sleeping under the stars in Hluhluwe National Park in Kwazulu Natal.
Kenyan walking safaris are a little less diverse and are higher end in terms of budget. This is because walking safaris are not yet widely allowed throughout the Kenyan national parks, and are predominantly offered as an activity on your traditional safari stay rather than be actively tailored around the walking safari itself. Prices range upwards from US$550 per person per night fully inclusive of board and activities.
Botswana is also not yet well known for its walking safaris due to a lack of strong national guiding standards for walking safari guides. But the places that do offer walking safaris do it well. You can expect to pay upwards from US$373 per person per night fully inclusive of board and activities and again, the walking safaris are primarily offered as an activity rather than a package.
- Encounter wildlife and nature from a unique vantage point.
- Access a wonderment of places that goes beyond what is accessible via vehicle.
- Camp out underneath the stars beside a campfire.
- Enjoy a more intimate safari experience as limited spaces are available on walking safaris.
- Switch off from technology and enjoy nature and the outdoors.
- Walking safaris are only for those with a good fitness base as you will be on your feet walking for a number of hours each day. Being alert and able bodied is essential.
- Some of the areas visited are malaria areas. Guests must check with their local medical center prior to travel if they are required to take malaria prophylactics or any other medications or vaccinations. Some countries require a yellow fever vaccination.
Best Time to Go
A general rule here is that the drier winter months are the best time to see game as the bush is less dense making it easier to spot animals. In South Africa, Kenya and Botswana, May to September is the best time to go for most safaris.
October, whilst still dry, is the hottest month of the year and can be a bit uncomfortable if you are not used to high daily temperatures that often average around 104F (40C).
Birdwatching is often best in the rainy summer months from November to April and the good news is that these countries experience climates where rainfall and thunderstorms typically only last for a few hours at a time, and not the whole day.
Start your African Adventure
2 Days Saadani National Park by road
Saadani National Park lies in the center of the historical triangle of Bagamoyo - Pangani - Zanzibar, and is one of the least known of all Tanzania's National Parks. We can plan a variety of safari options: game drives, walking safaris, birdwatching - each of them giving a different perspective on this unique area. A game drive in Saadani is a special experience: see game without twenty other vehicles spoiling the view! The landscape is varied, from grassland and rolling hills, which are the habitats of lion and elephant, to the acacia plains and mangrove forests.
3 Days Selous National Park
Selous Game Reserve, covering 50,000 square kilometers, is among the largest protected areas in Africa and is relatively undisturbed by human impact. The property harbors one of the most significant concentrations of elephant, black rhinoceros, cheetah, giraffe, hippopotamus and crocodile, among-st many other species. The reserve also has an exceptionally high variety of habitats including Miombo woodlands, open grasslands, riverine forests and swamps, making it a valuable laboratory.
Kilimanjaro Climbing Via Lemosho Route - 7 days
The seven day Lemosho variation is preferred over the six day option because it breaks up day two into two days, providing better acclimatization and a more gradual ascent. On the seven day route, we walk from Forest Camp to Shira Camp 1 on day two, a reasonable altitude gain of 2,000 feet. Then on day three, we continue from Shira Camp 2 to the little used Moir Hut, at 13,800 feet. Overall the exposure to this altitude will help prepare the body for higher altitudes coming on the following days. However, the treks from Barranco to Barafu, followed by the summit day are unchanged from the six day Lemosho variation. This schedule is still very tough, though the extra day on the mountain on the seven day route will help climbers deal with the exhausting itinerary better than those who opted for the six day route.
Mount Meru Climbing - 4 Days
Mount Meru is Mount Kilimanjaro's little sister, standing at 4,566m compared to 5,895m, but is still an impressive freestanding volcano, which makes a superb four day climb to the top. It last erupted in 1910 therefore can be classified as an active volcano. The first Mount Meru ascent was made by Dr. Fritz Jaeger, 1904. The town of Arusha lies at the base of Mount Meru Trekking, loads of trek companies do this trek. Wild animals are frequently found on this mountain therefore an armed ranger usually accompanies the trekkers. Accommodation
Wildlife Galore and The Falls
This tour gives you the opportunity to see abundant wildlife as well as one of the seven natural wonders of the world, The might Victoria Falls.
7 Days Tanzania Family Safaris
A family Safaris that takes in the lush bush like a forest of Lake Manyara, astonishing game viewing opportunities in the spectacular Ngorongoro Crater and the world famous plains of the wildlife-rich Serengeti National Park. The entire family will get the chance to enjoy nature walks and educational talks at each of the lodges. As a spectacular conclusion to your safari, there are local flights optional direct from the Serengeti to Arusha or Serengeti to Zanzibar which is not included in your package. You can drive also from Serengeti to Arusha connect to JRO.
Pro Planning Tips
Ensure that you have a qualified and experienced guide for your safari. Your guide will make or break your experience and having someone who is suitably qualified, knowledgeable and truly passionate will enhance your walking safari, as well as ensure your safety.
Remember, you will be encountering large and dangerous apex predators and having a guide who knows how to handle the encounter is vital. Always listen to the guide’s instructions.
Find a walking safari that is run by a reputable and ethical operator. Your footprint on nature and its surrounding community must be a beneficial and sustainable. Be realistic about your expectations and capabilities on your walking safari. If you are not able to walk for the required amount of time to cover the trail in the day, then you might ruin the experience for everyone else on the safari.
Being realistic about your capabilities is therefore vital. Do not book a 4-night / 5-day mobile tented walking safari, if you are only capable of walking 2-3 hours every second day and would prefer to stay in an enclosed chalet.
Have a friendly and open attitude. The experience that you will have on your walking safari is sure to be once in a lifetime, so embrace every minute of being close to nature and wildlife. Most importantly, have fun!
Getting There and Safety
For the flights to Africa, it is advised to check Skyscanner (for multiple destination flights), to see which airlines can take you to all African destinations and their various ticket prices.
If you are based in the UK and Europe, check out these flights to all African destinations.
If you are based in the USA and Canada, check out these flights to all African destinations.
Going on a safari in Africa comes with obvious risks. We recommend you get travel insurance for all safaris. Make sure your insurance has full medical coverage, emergency air evacuation, repatriation and the standard travel insurance for cancellations, delays and luggage cover.
Check World Nomads’ travel insurance calculator to see the cost of your safari trip cover.
Be sure to pack the following for your trip:
- Closed, comfortable and worn in walking shoes
- High SPF sun block
- Sunglasses and hat
- Cameras and binoculars
- Mosquito / bug repellent
- Comfortable clothing, preferably neutral in colour, for walking. It is advisable to cover up from the sun as much as possible. Light and bright colours are not advisable.
- A track suit and warm items for the evening and early morning in camp.
- Comfortable clothing and shoes for time spent in camp.
- A bathing suit.
- Items of a personal nature.
For more details on what to pack see our Safari Packing List.