Bush walk, safari walk, game walk … we’re talking about taking a short stroll in lieu of a game drive here, not the full-on multi-day walking safaris offered by specialist operators.
We’ve all been on game drives and heard the guide tell guests to remain seated at all times, so why on earth would you be considering a walk instead?
Well here are 10 reasons why it’s great to step out of the vehicle once in a while.
1. First up, these are gentle informative strolls not forced marches or long tiring hikes. You don’t have to be mega fit, guides can tailor the pace and distance to suit their guests. Walks can also be combined with other activities like spending time in a game viewing hide or can be little excursions during a game drive to investigate something interesting.
2. Walking in the bush gives you the opportunity to experience Africa from the ground, in the safe hands of your professional guide. You feel the bush rather than simply observe it. You’re in the animals’ domain, experiencing the world on their terms. It’s exciting!
3. The small details that are overlooked on game drives become more apparent from the slower pace and lower angle of being on foot. The amazing engineering skills and cooperative work involved in the creation of a termite mound, for instance. Bird calls, tracks, insects, plants, geology; everything takes on more significance and you gain a much deeper understanding of your environment.
4. Safari walks enhance your awareness and knowledge of what is going on around you as you are engaging all five senses on a heightened level. The tempting smell of wild sage, the velvety feel of an acacia seed pod, the fibrous taste of mother-in-law’s tongue root, the wind-like sounds of an enormous flocks of quelea, the thrilling sight of spotting big game at eye level – it’s exhilarating.
5. Bush walks take you to places inaccessible to vehicles, enabling you to experience and interact with your surroundings in a more rounded way. Whether it’s appreciating a particularly fabulous panorama, studying a gnarled baobab up close or spending time in an ancient cave dwelling studying ancient rock art, all these experiences are only possible on foot.
6. Your knowledge of the bush will also be boosted by the plethora of fascinating facts that can be imparted on a safari walk – the medicinal use of plants, bush survival skills, tracking, geology, local folklore and historical info, to mention but a few. Bush walks can be tailored to your special interests. Tell your guide if you’re a keen gardener, amateur photographer or wannabe Bear Grylls!
7. Just as importantly, walks can also be lots of fun – playing detective to try and work out which creature might have made the tracks in the sand. One can also try guess the types of animal dung and if you’re really brave engaging in the local sport of impala dung spitting! A good guide brings all this to life and it’s really satisfying to see what you can work out for yourself.
9. Given that the food is delicious and the meals plentiful at most lodges, it’s also a great way to burn off a few extra calories and make room for an extra slice of cake at afternoon tea.
10. Last but by no means least, safari walks are good for the soul! Reconnecting with the wild has been proven to be essential for human wellbeing. So what are you waiting for?
Those are just 10 reasons to go on a bush walk when you’re on safari, we’re sure there are lots more. Do share your thoughts or stories of walking in the bush.