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walking safaris

11 top walking safaris

Tuesday, 12 December 2023

Africa, the untamed continent, beckons adventurers with its extraordinary wilderness spaces and unique wildlife. There are many ways to explore its wonders, but none is more immersive and intimate than what is offered on walking safaris. On foot, the sudden amplification of sound, smell, touch and adrenaline creates a profound sense of connection to nature that has been all but lost in our frenetic, modern lives.

Options for walking adventures when on an African safari vary. There’s something on offer for all adventurers: from a morning or afternoon stroll while staying at a lodge, to a fully fledged walking safari taking place over a few days, where you have the option to sleep out in basic tents. We’ve included various options below, covering the best of all there is on offer.

So, lace up a sturdy pair of walking shoes and prepare to ignite your wanderlust with our 11 favourite African walking safaris….


Check out our selection of walking safaris for your next African safari. We have ready-made safaris to choose from, or ask us to build one just for you. 


 

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Often referred to as the home of walking safaris, Zambia’s Luangwa Valley is a playground for visitors seeking an authentic and unspoilt wilderness. Here, generations of expert guides have followed in the bootprints of Norman Carr to conserve the tradition of exceptional on-foot experiences. Stride over sandy riverbeds, navigate oxbow lakes and discover riverine forests, all the while observing the rich diversity of life (from dung beetles to elephants!) in Luangwa. Check out safaris in South Luangwa here.

walking safaris
Walking safaris in South Luangwa offer an authentic wilderness experience

Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

Mana Pools National Park is one of Zimbabwe’s most breathtaking protected areas, known for its picturesque Zambezi River floodplains, ethereal Ana tree groves and abundant wildlife. From habituated packs of African wild dogs (painted wolves) and towering elephant bulls to massive herds of thirst-driven buffalo and the lions that stalk them, Mana is a land designed to be explored up close and personal. It is also one of the few national parks where travellers can walk without a guide. Zimbabwe is also home to some of the best (and, in some cases, eccentric) walking guides in Africa, and securing their services is guaranteed to bring out the best in your African safari. Check out our ready-made safaris in Mana Pools here.

walking safaris
Adventurous travellers will find in-your-face wildlife drama on a Mana Pools walking safari

Alternatively, if you are looking for a truly wild walking experience, where you’ll camp in a remote spot with limited facilities, and have daily encounters with wild animals, then Chitake Springs offers just the ticket. Chitake Springs is a remote area in the southern reaches of Mana Pools, away from the Zambezi River. The campsite, used for walking safaris, is based at the only available water source in this part of the park – a magnet for wildlife. Find out more about safaris to Chitake Springs here.

Enjoying an early morning coffee before the day’s adventures at Chitake Springs
Heading out for the day’s adventures at Chitake Springs
Africa Geographic Travel

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda

Trekking for mountain gorillas is a walking safari of a very different kind – one that many have described as a profound and spiritual experience. The fern-fringed, muddy paths of the fairy-tale Bwindi Impenetrable Forest are verdant and bursting with secret sounds. While finding the gorilla families may take several hours of hiking, the reward at the end is the chance to go eye-to-eye with our endangered and sentient relatives. Observe their intricate social interactions, marvel at their human expressions, and be moved by the simple presence of these extraordinary creatures. Browse our ready-made safaris to Bwindi here.

Traverse Bwindi Impenetrable Forest in search of mountain gorillas

Akagera National Park, Rwanda

Akagera National Park is Rwanda’s only Big 5 national park and, in recent years, has established itself as one of the premier African safari destinations. From papyrus-lined swamps to savannah woodlands, the park’s magnificent landscapes provide the perfect backdrop for superb wildlife sightings and birding. Check out our safaris to Akagera here

Visit Africa’s largest protected wetland and explore Rwanda’s only Big-5 national park on a walking safari in Akagera

Okavango Delta, Botswana

The swampy oasis of the Okavango Delta in Botswana is undoubtedly one of the most extraordinary wildlife destinations in Africa, which, by extension, makes it one of the best places to traverse on foot. Marvel at the Delta’s labyrinthine channels and vast floodplains as you tread softly through the wilderness in the company of the highly skilled guides who know the secrets of this waterlogged paradise. Your walking safari will likely also involve time in a mokoro – gliding silently along the water channels as your expert poler reveals this water wonderland to you. We have several ready-made safaris to the Okavango Delta – see more here

Tread lightly through the Delta to experience incredible wildlife on foot

Tsavo East and West National Parks, Kenya

The rugged beauty of the vast Tsavo landscape is filled with the ancient magic of true wilderness, and walking here is akin to escaping to a bygone era. This is a land of legends, where many of Africa’s largest remaining tuskers roam, their thick skins shaded rust by the region’s famous red soils. From open savannahs and massive river systems to lava fields and woodlands, experienced guides will lead you in the search for giant elephants, maneless lions, gerenuk, fringe-eared oryx and even critically endangered hirola antelope. See our ready-made safaris to Tsavo National Park here

walking safaris
Follow in the footsteps of legendary tuskers in Tsavo

Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

The Serengeti is synonymous with Africa’s Great Wildebeest Migration – the Greatest Show on Earth. Still, few realise its vast plains can be explored on foot, granting unique privacy even in the busiest tourist months. Imagine embarking on a journey in the company of Maasai guides eager to share their intimate knowledge of their wilderness heritage. Witness the awe-inspiring landscapes, spot lions lazing under acacia trees, and feel the thrill of being surrounded by hundreds of thousands of wildebeest and zebras on one of Africa’s most immersive walking safaris. Peruse our safaris to the Serengeti here.

Just under 100km away, the diverse and wildlife-rich Ngorongoro Conservation Area also provides explorers an opportunity to walk in the largest unbroken caldera in the world, explore extinct volcanoes, and meet Maasai herders along the way

Walk across the vast Serengeti plains to get up close to the migration action
Africa Geographic Travel

Gonarezhou National Park, Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe’s Gonarezhou National Park is perhaps one of the country’s best-kept African safari secrets but for an ardent following of experienced travellers drawn to the park’s remote and rugged appeal. The iconic Chilojo Cliffs are perhaps Gonarezhou’s most famous feature. However, the ancient baobabs, thriving elephant herds and jaw-dropping vistas all contribute to securing the park as an exceptional walking safari destination.

Exploring Gonarezhou’s land of red cliffs and elephants on foot is an immersive experience

Laikipia County, Kenya

The mantra of the private conservancy experience in Kenya is one of exclusivity and freedom, and nowhere is this better epitomised than the mosaic landscapes of Laikipia County. Here, the low-density, high-quality approach allows travellers to customise their experience in a truly unique manner. Going on at least one walk is a given. Still, the full experience can even include accompanying ecological teams into the field to aid in monitoring endangered species, tracking lions, or even walking with baboon troops. With each step, you become a part of this remarkable landscape, forging a meaningful connection with the wilderness and creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Enjoy true freedom and experience conservation up close in Laikipia

Greater Kruger, South Africa

The private reserves bordering South Africa’s world-famous Kruger National Park offer the chance to leave the confines of a vehicle behind and set out on foot, led by experienced trackers and armed rangers. Stroll along ancient animal trails, learn about the region’s fascinating flora, and come face-to-face with some of the region’s Big 5 residents. Check out our safaris to Greater Kruger here.

A walking safari in Kruger takes adventurers deep into the middle of Big-5 country
Africa Geographic Travel

Skeleton Coast National Park, Namibia

In the desolate beauty of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast National Park, embark on a unique walking safari that combines rugged landscapes with fascinating wildlife encounters. Traverse the vast dunes and arid plains, where desert-adapted elephants roam, lions hunt in the shifting sands, and seals frolic along the coastline. This untamed wilderness showcases the astonishing resilience of life in the most extreme of environments. Check out spots to stay in and around the Skeleton Coast here.

Explore the land of endless dunes, desert lions and arid plains on foot along Namibia’s Skeleton Coast

And on that footnote

From the sweeping plains and savannahs to the remote reaches of the coastlines and dense forests, Africa’s walking safari destinations offer an intimate connection with nature that few other experiences can match. Whether you seek the thrill of encountering iconic wildlife, the tranquillity of walking through pristine landscapes, or the chance to recentre your soul, it’s time to open your senses to the wild beauty of Africa.

A rugged sleep out while on a walking safari in Akagera National Park

 

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