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South Africa Walking Safaris

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More than just a walk in the park

Experience the majesty of the South African wilderness and the thrill of the wildlife on foot

Walking safaris in South Africa are a completely different wildlife experience compared with the more commonly experienced vehicle-based safari.

The ethos behind walking safaris is to give you the opportunity to experience Africa and the sheer majesty of the bush in a more personal and intimate manner, discovering levels of detail which can easily be overlooked in a vehicle. Learn about tracking,

South Africa is a perfect choice when looking for a walking safari experience as it has an abundance of diverse areas to explore and huge diversity of fauna and flora.

Most walking safaris happen during the cooler, dryer winter months in South Africa. Not only are the conditions more favourable, the bush is less dense making it easier to spot wildlife.

Whilst you’re on safari in South Africa, some lodges and camps will offer short walking safaris in place of a morning or afternoon safari game drive – these will usually be within private reserves and if the lodge you’re staying at offers these – we would highly recommend taking full advantage as they are a wonderful experience.

There’s a plethora of longer walking safari or ‘trails’ options to choose from with each lasting usually up to three nights and four days. Here are some of the best activity options in South Africa for you to experience.

Primitive or Wilderness trails. These are for those looking for a true wilderness experience in the African bush, carrying everything you’ll need on your back including food, change of clothing and a sleeping. Led by experienced guides follow game paths, tracking wildlife, exploring remote areas where even 4x4 vehicles struggle to venture. Nights will be spent in the open air at different locations as you traverse the wilderness, with an ocean of stars above you and the crackling campfire by your feet. A very back-to-basics experience but one which allows you to truly disconnect and rediscover nature.

Basecamp trails – are when you have a centralised accommodation or bush camp and proceed to head out in to the African bush either for full day trail walking, taking a packed lunch with you, or walking in the morning before returning to camp during the middle of the day before heading out for an afternoon walk or perhaps a vehicle based safari depending on sightings and the group. You'll only need to carry with you what you need for the day and return to basecamp late afternoon to enjoy a delicious cooked dinner by the fire and enjoy a well-earned beer

Mobile camping trails. These are a combination of a wilderness and basecamp trail. A group will head out in the morning whilst camp staff will take disassemble camp and move it to another location, setting it up ready for the arrival of the intrepid explorers with refreshments waiting.

Whilst on a walking safari, guests may be included in a very important part of the experience – night watch at the campfire. This is the time where you can embrace silence, solitude and look into yourself. Qualities which are difficult to find in today's world of fast-moving technology and the constant pressure to be actively engaged, being distracted by a million things… finally, you can hear your own thoughts.

SOUTH AFRICA TRIP IDEAS

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Trail Walking In South Africa

How a walking safari in South Africa works

Small groups of guests are led by qualified and experienced game rangers and guides who are skilled at reading tracks and interpreting the bush. You’ll learn about tiny insects and reptiles, how guides track big game and also the finer elements of the fragile ecosystem which surrounds you… and of course if you’re fortunate, you’ll experience exhilarating experience of encountering wildlife on foot, including the Big Five.

Your guides will carry a rifle, but this is only used as a last resort. The purpose of a walking safari is to have a holistic experience, not to put you or the wildlife in a dangerous situation. Often wildlife sightings will be at a greater distance than they would be in a vehicle with the objective being to view the animals peacefully, without disrupting their natural behaviour.

In some instances, walking safaris will encourage you to leave your watches and mobile phones behind (unless you’re using it to take photos), which encourages you experience the freedom of not being bound by time or continuously meeting deadlines and appointments – allowing you to disconnect to reconnect.

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Disconnect to reconnect

Whilst on a walking safari, guests may be included in a very important part of the experience – night watch at the campfire. This is the time where you can embrace silence, solitude and look into yourself. Qualities which are difficult to find in today's world of fast-moving technology and the constant pressure to be actively engaged, being distracted by a million things… finally, you can hear your own thoughts.

Depending on the walking safari experience you choose, will determine the kit you will have to take and carry yourself. Longer, wilderness and primitive trails which last between three to four days, will mean that you may have to carry enough food to last, changes of clothing, sleeping bag and a few other essentials. With basecamp walking safaris, you’ll only carry what you will need for the day as you will either be returning to the same camp or a team will have moved the camp to a new site and all your other luggage will have been transported for you.

Here are some great locations for longer walking safaris in South Africa.

Hluhluwe Trails Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve South Africa Walking Wildlife Rhino

Hluhluwe Imfolozi National Park, Kwa Zulu Natal

This is considered by many in the industry to be the true home of walking safaris in South Africa and within this Hluhluwe National Park there are some excellent options available with plenty of wildlife to encounter on foot including the Big Five. Most of the walking safaris take place in the vast wilderness areas of the Imfolozi section of the reserve, taking you over rolling hills, sand-banked rivers, open plains and acacia forests. The reserve has played an integral role in the survival of both the black and white rhino, if you’re lucky you may get to encounter these magnificent creatures on foot.

Walking Safari At Shamwari

Shamwari Game Reserve, Eastern Cape

Explorers Camp. During South Africa’s summer season, Shamwari Game Reserve expands its activities to include walking safaris by setting up a wilderness bush camp on a granite plateau overlooking the reserve. From here walking safaris set out each morning to explore the beautiful wilderness of the Eastern Cape before returning to the bush camp each evening to relax and unwind in front of the fire.

Walking Safari Kruger National Park

Kruger National Park

Nearly 50% of the entire Kruger National Park is dedicated to wilderness which means that around half of it is devoid of tourists. These are the areas which the famous wilderness trails take place. Here is just a small selection available of the best walking safaris in the Greater Kruger Area.

Timbavati Private Nature Reserve – Considered to be one of the best options for a walking safari in the Kruger area and is classic Big Five and Game country. As with walking safari in Hluhluwe Imfolozi, there is a myriad of experiences available from the primitive trails where you carry everything you need to be self-sufficient to the base camp trails options. A typical walking safari in the Timbavati lasts three to four days.

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Limpopo Trail, Kruger National Park – Located in the northern Pafuri section of Kruger, this walking safari offers the opportunity to explore one of the remotest corners of the national park. Huge forests of fever trees, vast herds of antelope as well as the Big Five. Nights are spent at a base campsite with walks taking place in the morning and afternoon – the middle of the day is spent relaxing around camp.

Klaserie Trail, Klaserie Private Nature Reserve – The least commercially developed of all the Kruger Private Game Reserves, thus offering a truly rustic, remote and pristine wildlife experience. Each day is spent walking through the 8,000 hectare private area and each night is spent in a new location in a fully set up mobile camp site in a scenic location. Klasierie enjoys a high leopard population – can you imagine the adrenaline rush of spotting a leopard on foot, even from a distance?

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    Marc

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    Peter

    South Africa Specialist

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