Walking safaris in South Africa
Did you know?
The striped pattern on zebras is unique to each animal, much like a human fingerprint.
While any safari in South Africa will be memorable, if you want to get the real feel of the bushveld, go on foot. Walking in the bush, accompanied by knowledgeable guides, is about as close to nature as you can get, especially in wildlife areas where most visitors are restricted to exploring from the confines of their vehicles.
There are three basic types of walking safaris: full-blown wilderness trails, which include camping outdoors; portered safaris, with back-up vehicles to carry gear; and base camp safaris, where travellers use a lodge or tent-camp as a base for their daily adventures. Many reserves and national parks offer a combination to cater to different preferences and budgets.
If your time or energy is limited, you can usually combine a vehicle-based wildlife safari with a guided walk of two to three hours. This combination is popular at many lodges and national parks.
A multiple-day walking trip is best if you have the time. South Africa is incredibly rich in flora and fauna, and the longer you walk, the better your chances of seeing more. A longer safari also has the benefit of night activities. Most multi-day walking safaris have comfortable accommodation ranging from rustic, budget-oriented options, to more luxurious base camps.
Some destinations also offer specialist walks, such as birding trails and historical walks, where you can take in a variety of smaller wildlife, explore indigenous trees and plants, or just take in the landscape.
After your holiday, the memory of being able to hear, smell and even taste nature on foot will surface time after time. There is just something special about walking in the bush. Especially if you come face-to-face with one of the Big Five...
Travel tips & Planning info
How to get here
Walking safari options are available at most South African national parks and many private reserves, all lof which are generally easily accessible by road or air.
Best time to visit
Walking in the bush is an activity that you can enjoy all year round. In summer, however, certain trails are closed due to the heat. Walking during the cooler winter months generally makes for a more pleasant experience.
On foot, of course!
What will it cost
Depending on whether you choose a budget or luxury option, a walking safari can range from under a thousand to several thousand rand. This generally includes all catering.
Length of stay
The more you walk, the better your chances of seeing animals.
What to pack
A water bottle, hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, lots of extra socks and good walking shoes or hiking boots.
What to eat
Extended walking safaris are generally catered, although you may want to take along some extra snacks. Drinks are generally your responsibility.