A walking safari allows you to experience Africa in a more natural way, opening your senses and exploring the wilderness on foot under the expert guidance of trained rangers. It's an experience not to miss.
26 Apr 2021
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Having worked as a guide and spent a lot of time in the bush, there is genuinely not a better feeling than that which you get from a walking safari and the sense of excitement you get from getting out of the vehicle and exploring on foot. Stepping out of the vehicle and away from the noise on the engine opens up your senses to what is happening around you, allowing you to notice signs and creatures you would usually have driven past and missed.
Below is a list of our top 10 favourite walking safaris we have put together that not only appeal to travellers with an interest in wildlife but also the rich culture found throughout Africa.
We have divided these up into short walking safaris for those who perhaps have not done a walking safari before and want to dip their toe in the water, animal specific for those looking to trek to find wildlife such as gorillas, longer walking safaris where walking is a large focus of the trip and alternative walking holidays where you might do safari and walking separately such as in Namibia.
Short Walking Safaris
These short walking safaris are perfect if this is your first time walking in the African bush and you want to experience what it is like, but you don’t want to commit to several days or make it the main focus of your trip. It allows you to get a taster for the experience, typically focusing on seeing smaller animals and learning about the fauna, rather than spotting larger, more dangerous animals. In many camps, if you like it, you can always request to do more short walks, or you can plan a return to Africa for a longer walking safari.
1. Zimbabwe Safari Adventure
Head to the home of the walking safari on the Zimbabwe Safari Adventure. Hwange, Mana Pools and Lake Kariba offer some of the best and most remote game viewing in all of Africa.
A personal favourite of mine I have fond memories of walking through Mana Pool with armed guide coming across my first wild dog sighting, elephant and maybe getting a little too close to a number of buffalo.
Zimbabwe is famed for its intense and long guide training and they have produced some of the best guides in the business due to their high standards so you know you are in good hands.
Game drives and guided walks in Hwange National Park
Luxury tented accommodation throughout
Experience Mana Pools, the home of the walking safari
Unbeatable game viewing.
Optional Victoria Falls add on
Best time to go: May – October
After flying to Victoria Falls via Johannesburg you will fly straight into Hwange National Park where you will spend three nights at the incredible Somalisa Camp. Game drives, guided walks and birding safaris are all on offer. Wildlife in the area includes the usual plains game, plus lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant, hyena, cheetah and much more.
Your next stop is the breath-taking Lake Kariba for three days. There are no shortage of activities to try here, with many based around the lake. Spend your days with a mixture of fishing, boat safaris, sunset cruises, as well as game drives and guided walks in the wildlife rich Matusadona National Park. Keeping up with the luxurious accommodation your three nights will be spent staying at Bumi Hills Safari Lodge
Finally, onto a personal favourite of mine, Mana Pools National Park, arguably one of the best places to walk in the whole of Africa. Zimbabwe is famed for its incredible guiding and strict standards, essential when walking in remote wilderness such as Mana Pools. Your base for the next three nights will be Zambezi Expeditions Camp overlooking the Zambezi River. Although canoeing safaris and game drives are also on offer, make the most of the walking opportunities here which are second to none.
Zambia is famed for its walking safaris with South Luangwa National Park said to be the birthplace of them, and still one of the best locations in the country to undertake these magical experiences. As well as the incredible wildlife and camps, Zambia remains hugely popular for walking safaris due to the country’s strict guiding exams and consistently high standards.
This safari combines Victoria Falls, the Lower Zambezi National Park and the South Luangwa National Park, 3 must visit locations for any trip to Zambia with excellent opportunities for walking.
Visit Victoria Falls
Cruise along the Zambezi River
Canoe in the Lower Zambezi National Park
Game drive in one of the most predator rich areas in Africa.
Walk in some of the most exciting game areas
Best time to go: April – August
After your overnight flight to Johannesburg you will connect up to Livingstone where you will spend three nights at the Waterberry Zambezi Lodge which is located near the stunning Victoria Falls. Perfectly located on the banks of the Zambezi, be sure you make the most of all the activities available from walking tours to bungee jumping to helicopter flights and of course, the chance to walk across the bridge to the Zimbabwean side to see the falls from another angle.
Your next stop is Baines’ River Camp in the Lower Zambezi which falls between the mighty Zambezi River and the mountains to the north. The game viewing begins here, and it won’t disappoint. The sheer range of activities available here is a joy with the choice of game drives, guided walks, boat and canoe safaris, fishing trips and sunset river cruises. Walking safaris not only give you the chance to stretch your legs, but also to truly appreciate the park's flora and fauna, and to understand what makes the ecosystem here so special. As many activities focus around the rivers here where game congregates, especially during the dryer months, walking safaris may be combined with boat trips to reach more remote areas.
The final destination on your safari is the famous South Luangwa Park where walking safaris originated. Four nights at Kafunta will give you plenty of time to see what this incredible park has to offer. Famous for its leopards and high predator numbers this is the best way to finish off your trip. South Luangwa is renowned for its excellent walking terrain, and the remote location of Kafunta ensures that you are away from the crowds to give you a truly private experience. Walking here is best from April through to October, however, temperatures will rise the later you go.
A Botswana safari is hard to beat, and this walking safari is no exception. This 9-night trip covers 3 must visit regions in Botswana, each fantastic for walking in their own right.
Botswana is particularly good for walking, however, you will need to take the time of year into account. With such a high elephant population and much of the Okavango Delta comprising of thick mopane woodland and dense bush I would suggest avoiding the green seasons as many of the guides will not walk. that being said walking in down by the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans is possible year round. The majority of walking in Botswana is not strenuous as it’s a very flat country, making it an enjoyable stroll as you learn about your surroundings.
Fly between each camp on a private charter spotting game from the air.
Mokoro along the waterways of the Okavango Delta
Enjoy some of the most game rich environments in Africa
Walk with the Zu/’hoasi bushmen
Spend the morning with a habituated family of meerkats
Take an ATV on to the Makgadikgadi Salt Pans
Enjoy luxury, exclusive and remote tented accommodation
Best time to go: May – October
The first two camps are particularly wildlife orientated. Although the main focus will be game drive orientated, both camps will offer walking activities. After your overnight flight form London to Johannesburg you will take a light aircraft north to Duba Explorers Camp where you will spend three nights on game drives and exploring the waterways on the northern boundaries of the Okavango Delta, this area is particularly well known for the big 5.
From here fly south to Gomoti Plains Camp on the edge of the Gomoti River, again, very much orientated around game viewing and game drives be sure to spend a few hours during a cool morning walking with your guide and taking in the small creatures often missed from the game drive vehicle.
Your last stop is a particular highlight of mine at Jack's Camp you will get the opportunity to walk and spend time with the Zu/’hoasi bushmen. Speaking no English you will have an interpreter with you who will explain everything along the way as they pass on their knowledge. This is a once in a lifetime experience and real privilege. The Makgadikgadi Salt pans are also renowned for their incredible vistas and diverse wildlife such as the brown hyena, aardwolf and other desert adapted species such as gemsbok and ostrich.
These walking safaris are perfect for safari goers who want to walking to be a key feature of their holiday and are comfortable spending several hours walking in the bush with a guide, often walking between camps. Some of these also give you the opportunity to encounter larger game on a foot which is an exhilarating experience.
4. Walk, mountain bike and drive Northern Tanzania
The Serengeti is synonymous with a Tanzania safari, and undoubtedly one of the best destinations in the world for wildlife viewing. Home to the Great Migration, as well as the Big Five, the Serengeti is a safari hotspot, and a walking safari offers the unique opportunity to get away from the crowds and experience wildlife from a unique perspective – a true highlight of this trip.
Visit Lake Manyara National Park
Chance to view the tree climbing lions and the flamingos
Mountain bike through the rural villages
Walk along the rim and drive in the Ngorongoro Crater
View the great migration in the Serengeti
Walk the plains of the Serengeti
Best time to go: June – October
This trip combines three spectacular locations providing a great overview of the incredible game viewing that can be found in Tanzania.
Begin your adventure by visiting Lake Manyara which is famous for its tree climbing lions and flamingos. Staying in Manyara Green Camp for two nights, you are located right on the river so you can explore the nearby waterfalls and swim in rockpools to cool off in the afternoons. The perfect place to sit and enjoy a G&T, you can see fish eagles swooping down to catch their dinner, as elephants wander past.
Here, as well as game drives, you will have the option to mountain bike through the rural villages soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying riverside picnics, to walk alongside the shores of Lake Manyara and get close to the flamingos or enjoy forest hikes in the Great Rift Valley. A truly unique experience, is to take a canoeing excursion on the lake, watching the wildlife graze on the shoreline, or for a completely new perspective, try Tanzania’s first treetop walkway through the forest putting you at eye-level with the monkeys, butterflies and birds.
From here you will game drive out of Manyara and head to the infamous Ngorongoro Crater where you will spend a night at Sanctuary Crater Camp. Spend the afternoon walking the crater rim which offers some incredible views, before heading back to camp. Early the following morning you will use your close proximity to the crater floor to get in early and enjoy all the wildlife and amazing views – the Ngorongoro Crater is one of the best places in Tanzania to see the Big Five.
Your final destination will be the infamous Serengeti where you experience one of the most wildlife rich areas and get up close and personal with the Great Migration. Your first two nights will be spent at Naabi Green Camp exploring as much as possible during your game drives, before you begin your walking safari where you will stay in the Serengeti walking camps.
The Serengeti walking camps move with the seasons to be near the migration and are located in remote areas of the Serengeti where there are gentle rolling hills, small steams and grassy plains. You will set off early in the mornings to avoid the heat of the day and make the most of when the animals are most active, accompanied of course by a qualified walking guide and armed ranger. Enjoys al fresco breakfasts perched on a rock as you marvel at the nature surrounding you, before heading back to camp for a sit-down lunch and afternoon rest. Short evening walks allow you to experience the bush as the African sun goes down providing incredible lighting.
This Tanzania active safari is truly a once in a lifetime experience, combining comfortable camps with the chance to fully immerse yourself in the bush.
Zambia is famed for its walking safaris and this trip gets you truly off the beaten track and into the wilderness.
This 11-day trip in the heart the Luangwa concentrates on the best this park has to offer and does it on foot. Really wild walking safaris are difficult to find these days, so this is not to be missed. This trip ticks all the boxes for the keen safari goer; adventurous, off the beaten track and lead by incredible guides. Ideal for someone looking for something a little out of the norm.
Off the beaten track exploration
Incredible wildlife viewing
Move between camps on foot
Dine and even sleep under the stars
Chance to walk with rhino and see wild dog on foot
Sleep in huts in the trees
Swim in the clear waters of the Mwaleshi River
Best time to go: April - August
Start off with a night in a safari style camp situated on the outskirts of Lusaka, catch up on some sleep and relax after your flights. The following morning you will fly from Lusaka up to Mfuwe and then transfer on a leisurely game drive to you first camp positioned perfectly on the banks of the Luangwa River. The game here is fantastic and you can expect to see lion, leopard, wild dog, elephant and giraffe as highlights.
From here you will continue on foot to a remote bush camp deep in the South Luangwa where the focus is on walking safaris and a truly immersive bush experience. On your walking safaris, you will be accompanied by both a guide to find animals for you and also a scout to keep an eye out for animals and ensure you are kept safe. You’ll walk for about four hours a day, some days staying a couple of nights in a camp, and other days moving straight on to a new camp. Afternoons can be spent relaxing and watching the nearby game.
A highlight is staying at Chikoko Tree Camp in two story reed huts, giving you a unique perspective of the wildlife. Chikoko Tree Camp is focused purely on walking safaris and is in an area with no roads at all. Your luggage will be carried for you by porters to and from camp. Dine under the stars, sleep in open-fronted reed-built rooms and enjoy the sights and sounds of the bush all around you.
A scenic flight will take you from the South to the North Luangwa National Park, a beautiful part of the country which is only visited by a handful of people every year. With only three camps in the park, you are guaranteed a truly intimate safari experiences and no crowds. Staying at Mwaleshi Camp, you will be in perfect walking terrain with vast open plains giving you a good chance of seeing rare wild dog and the camp being located within a rhino sanctuary giving you a unique opportunity to see these magnificent beasts on foot. You can swim in the shallow, clear waters of the Mwaleshi River, enjoy visits to the Mwaleshi Falls and even enjoy a sleepout under the stars if the weather allows.
This Zambia walking safari is a chance to really feel at one with nature and an experience hard to replicate anywhere else in Africa.
With its huge diversity in environments our Walk in the footsteps of African icons trip idea if the perfect itinerary for anyone wanting an active and adventurous trip. South Africa has some of the best walking spots in Africa. Its different habitats and environments are any walker’s dream.
This trip is one of my favourites for heading straight into the bush and having a high possibility for some incredible sightings, often walking where 4x4 can’t reach. The walking here is at a relaxing pace, however, be prepared for high chances of coming across any of the big five on foot – don’t worry, your guide is there to keep you safe.
Exclusive mobile safari
Authentic style safari
Guided walking safaris by highly trained guides
Potential of experiencing the Big Five on foot
Relax and unwind in Cape Town
Best time to go: May – October
After your flight into Johannesburg, you will fly directly to the Kruger where you will prepare for the next few days walking. You will be staying at the Africa on Foot accommodation that is in the heart of the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve which shares unfenced borders with Kruger National Park. Lovely, comfortable and authentically rustic, the focus is on your ‘bush’ experience in canvas tents as opposed to luxury. As you fall asleep listening to the sounds of the bush, you will feel a new appreciation for nature.
The next few days will be spent tracking the iconic African wildlife of South Africa, led by your professional guides you will have the potential of encountering buffalo, lion, leopard, elephant and rhino along the way. You’ll discover the final details of ecosystem that surrounds you and learn how to read and interpret the discreet signs of the wildlife which allow you to track and follow them. .
The second half of your trip is in Cape Town where the walking possibilities are endless. Strolling along the waterfront in the evenings is a must, as well as a trip up Table Mountain - skip the cable car and take time hiking up, the rewards at the top are well worth it.
These walking safaris all focus on spotting a specific animal that many people plan their trip around as a bucket list activity.
7. Gorilla trekking, Rwanda
Rwanda is full of incredible walking opportunities but the highlight for most people, is trekking to see the Mountain Gorillas.
Gorilla tracking occurs in the forest and can be challenging across slippery slopes and going up and down gradients, and at a bit of an altitude. To avoid disappointment and so you can enjoy the experience as much as possible, I would suggest even doing a little training before you trip, ideally as much walking as possible. Where possible, they will put less mobile people into a gorilla group which is closer.
Not only are you able to trek into the mountains to see the gorillas but there are plenty of other opportunities with the golden monkeys and exploring Lake Kivu and surrounding forests.
Learn about Rwanda’s history at the Genocide Memorial Centre
Best time to go: December – February and June – September
Rwanda is often seen as the more luxury option for gorilla tracking, thanks to the numerous boutique hotels that have popped up here and the ease with which it can be combined with Tanzania’s Serengeti for a safari.
After overnighting in Kilgali on arrival you will head into Nyungwe Forest National Park where you will spend two nights at Nyungwe Hill Top View Hotel. From here you will have the opportunity to trek with chimpanzees and go on guided canopy walks looking spotting the birdlife, butterflies and monkeys.
From Nyungwe Forest take a scenic drive to Lake Kivu where you can enjoy plenty of walking and trekking, as well as boating on the lake, fishing and swimming.
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and something which you will remember forever. In the morning you will head to the Park HQ where you will be allocated a team of experience ranger-guides who will take you into the park to see out one of the residents, habituated gorilla groups. Each group consists of at least one silverback gorilla, and a number of females and youngsters. Time taken to reach the gorillas varies from as little as 45 minutes to a few hours depending on where the gorillas are on that particular day. Once they have been located you will be allowed to spend an hour with them.
Spending 10 nights on our Discovering Conservation Safari in Kenya is perfect for any safari goer wanting to get out of the vehicle and explore at a slower pace on foot.
Although Kenya hasn’t always been top of the list for people wanting to walk, its is becoming increasingly popular. Walking is not allowed in the majority of national parks and reserves but it is within a number of new conservancies and private ranches. Unlike a lot of the walking in Southern Africa, walking in Kenya is a more relaxed affair. Often referred to as bush walks these are a great way to look at the smaller creatures rather than focusing on the large mammals.
Track black rhino
Learn about the importance of conservation first-hand
Interact with authentic tribal communities
Stay in exclusive and authentic safari camps and lodges
Walking opportunities throughout your trip.
Unbeatable game viewing in the Masai Mara
Best time to go: June – October
On arrival in Nairobi board to small plane transfer and head to the stunning Saruni Samburu overlooking the Kalama conservancy. This area has plenty of wildlife and activities to keep you occupied for your two-night stay. Game drives and night drives are both on offer, however, use this opportunity to get away from the vehicle and discover the sights, smells and small details in the bush.
Your next stop is the near Saruni Rhino Camp in the nearby Sera Conservancy. Known for its healthy Black Rhino population which are one of the most endangered species on the planet, thanks to the considerable conservation work that has been done to boost numbers over the recent years. Here you will get the opportunity to track these magnificent animals on foot with the help of Samburu rangers and Samburu warriors in one of the most isolated and most beautiful un-spoilt areas of Africa, is truly a privilege that it is impossible to forget. There are very few places in Africa where this is possible and it is a true trip highlight.
Following two nights at Saruni Rhino you will head to your penultimate camp in the famous Lewa Conservancy, again another game rich, fascinating environment with plenty to do. Discover the incredible conservation projects that have resulted in Lewa Wildlife Conservancy being home to the world's largest population of Grevy's zebra and over 130 endangered Black & White rhino. The game drives here are lead by knowledgeable guides who will also take you on bush walks throughout the area. You also have the option here of horseback safaris and even camel treks.
Finishing on the ultimate high you will be taking a short flight into the gem that is the Masai Mara. It will live up to its reputation of incredible game viewing. Spend three nights exploring the Mara from your base at Richard’s River Camp this is the perfect way to end any trip to Kenya.
Trekking with gorillas and chimps is one of those once in a lifetime trip and our Active Uganda trip idea ticks all of the boxes.
A true bucket list experience and simply awe inspiring to spend time with one of our nearest relative, see Rwanda above for more details on gorilla trekking.
Trek and spend time with the mountain gorillas
Hike and canoe across Lake Mutanda
Meet the Batwa community
Hike across Bwindi Impenetrable Forest
Tree climbing lions in Queen Elizabeth National Park
Chimpanzee trekking in Kibale National Park
Best time to go: January – February or June – September
Nkuringo Bwindi River Lodge, in Bwindi Forest is your first key stop and will act as your base to see the mountain gorillas. Whilst gorilla trekking is undoubtable the main event here, there are plenty of other activities to keep you entertained during your three-night stay including relaxed lake cruises in a dugout canoe and the chance to trek to the ‘Top of the World’ for fantastic views of the Rwenzori Mountains and crater lakes.
Gorilla tracking takes place in the dramatic and dense forest, following trails that allow access for tourists. How long your gorilla tacking takes will depend on the gorillas location, but once you find them, you are in for a treat with a rare and moving experience, as you spend an hour with these incredible creatures.
Next up, it is Queen Elizabeth Park, famous for its tree climbing lions, you will be overnighting in Mweya Safari Lodge. In a great location this is your chance to see some big cats but also tick off some of the incredible bird life that can be seen when cruising along the Kazinga Chanel.
Your final two nights will be spent at Primate Lodge in Kibale National Park. Here, there is plenty of time to explore on foot with the main attraction being trekking with the chimpanzees, where Kibale National Park holds the highest density.
These walking safaris are not traditional ‘safaris’, but still offer a unique opportunity to see incredible wildlife on foot, as well as of course, incredible landscapes.
Whilst you many don’t think of it as a classic walking safari destination due to its more limited wildlife, Namibia’s dramatic scenery make it perfect for exploring on foot with some incredible walking trails.
Explore the Kalahari desert
Hike fish river canyon
See desert horse
Climb the dunes of Sossusvlei
Self-drive means you can explore at your own pace
Best time to go: May – September
Namibia is made for walking and our Southern Namibia Self-Drive Safari allows you to do just that. The beauty of this trip other that the experiences and the scenery is that during a self-drive you can really take your time, stop when you want to and get out and stretch your legs in breath-taking environments.
Although it does have less game than many other Southern African countries this plays to Namibia’s strengths, its stunning scenery and huge expanses of nothing, making it safe, exclusive and ideal for walking and hiking.
Walking through the rolling red dunes of the Kalahari desert, learning about the desert adapted wildlife that survives here, before moving onto to Fish River Lodge, a stunning property right on the edge of the canyon. Here you can hike right down into the canyon floor, finding cooling rock pools to cool off in and with the option to add a multiday hike to truly explore the area.
Sossusvlei is a bucket list for many visitors to Namibia and you will want to be up early to beat the crowds. Spend your morning climbing the towering dunes and marvelling at the seemingly endless sea of red dunes that unfolds in front of you, as well as taking the opportunity to take a stroll through the beautiful Dead Vlei below.
If you enjoy walking around breath taking scenery then our Rambling Around Ethiopia trip is perfect for you. This trip has been constructed with our expert knowledge and appeals to anyone who has a love for wildlife, the outdoors and culture. Ethiopia is a sensory overload so taking your time to amble around the churches and take in the scenery of the Simien Mountains National Park makes this country one of our favourite for anyone wanting to spend more time on foot.
Explore the Simien Mountains National Park
Take in the castles of Gondar
Wonder around the iconic churches of Lalibela
Go on a TESFA community village walking experience.
Best time to go: September – April
This 12-night trip to Ethiopia ticks a lot of boxes but will leave you wanting to come back and explore more. Walking in Ethiopia is the best way to experience all this incredible country has to offer. With such a rich cultural background, taking time to meet people and take it all in is the best way to do it.
Known as the roof of Africa, spend the first few days wondering around the Simien Mountains in search for the geladas and Walia ibexes in the Afro-alpine surrounds with your guide. After your African wildlife fix you will head to Gondar and the stunning rock churches of Lalibela, it is difficult to describe these without seeing them.
Your Ethiopia trip will finish with 2 nights at the TESFA community village where you will stay in traditions rustic accommodation. As well as getting the opportunity to learn about every day life you will get to explore the surrounding area on foot, this is a real highlight.
While a walking safari is one of ultimate ways to experience Africa, remember you're in an environment with potentially dangerous wildlife. We only partner with and recommend those who have proven safety records and are highly experienced - meaning you can enjoy an authentic and most importantly, safe experience.
In areas where there is larger, more dangerous game, at least one of the leading guides will be armed - this is only as a last resort as a walking safari is meant to be a holistic experience, leaving nature undisturbed and untouched.
We recommend always wearing closed, sturdy shoes for a walking safari, often long sleeves and long trousers are also recommended as there can be some tricky terrain.
Always carry enough water with you for the duration of your walk as it's important to stay hydrated.
Always follow the advice of your guide, they are there to keep you safe and have experience of the wilderness you're exploring.
Camps often have an ages limits for walking safaris with a minimum age of between 12 to 16 for health and safety reasons.
As you can see there are a number of different trips that allow you to get out and explore on foot. Although these are a few great suggestions, if you are looking for a trip with a focus on walking then let us know and we can chat through different itineraries, camps and countries with you to suit your requirements. It is also handy to remember that a large majority of safari camps and lodges will offer short walks so it is always worth asking if it’s possible to build a walk into your daily activities to stretch your legs and see the bush from a different perspective.
Call us now on 01768 603 715 or click the button below and start planning your tailor-made walking safari experience in Africa.