The best walking safaris in Africa

Walking safaris offer a completely different experience to seeing the bush from a game vehicle. On foot, you view these wild areas of Africa from the same level as many of the animals and discover things you’d miss from a vehicle, such as tiny insects, plants and birds. Learn about the ecosystem and how everything works together. Skilled trackers will teach you how to identify animal prints. On the most established of the best walking safaris, you can get thrillingly close to big animals such as elephants. Walking in the bush is also a relaxing, mindful experience, as you move in single file, silently, just focusing on the sounds, smells and sights of the bush around you. Inspired to take an adventure? These are some of the best walking safaris in Africa.

Walking safaris
Walking safaris are the most immersive way to explore.

South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

Zambia is where the walking safari was pioneered back in the 1950s and this is still the best country in Africa to explore on foot. Companies such as Norman Carr Safaris and Robin Pope Safaris specialise in walking safaris and have led the way in developing these multi-day walking experiences. South Luangwa in particular is remote and perfectly suited to on-foot exploration for adventurous travellers. Spot lions, elephants, leopards, Crawshay’s zebras and a range of antelope species.

Walking safaris
Walking across the Mupamadzi River. Credit: Robin Pope Safaris.

Gorilla tracking, Rwanda or Uganda

You have to trek to reach the habituated gorilla groups of Uganda and Rwanda, as they’re hidden deep in the thick forests of the Virunga Mountains. However, the steep hike through the humid jungle is worth it for that special hour you get to spend with the gorillas. You might be trekking for one hour or four, depending on the location of the primates; that you have to work to reach them, makes the experience feel even more extraordinary.

A mother and child, Titus Group, Bisate Lodge, Wilderness Safari, Rwanda
Gorillas of the Titus Group in Rwanda. Credit: Bisate Lodge.

Mana Pools, Zimbabwe

Mana Pools is famed for its walking safaris. With a long history of walking in the park, the animals are very relaxed around people on foot, making for superb wildlife encounters. Mana Pools is open from April to November (dry season), when you can see elephants (watch out for Boswell, the bull who taught himself to stand on his hind legs to reach the fruit on high branches), wild dogs and lions.

Walking safari
Walking in Mana Pools. Credit: Ruckomechi Camp.

Northern Kruger, South Africa

This lesser-visited area of the famous park is ideal for multi-day walking safaris. It’s here in the north of the Kruger that you will find 80% of the park’s biodiversity – and just a fraction of the tourists. This area is famed for its huge fever tree forests, and it’s also possible to spot rare animals, such as pangolins and aardvarks.

Walking safaris
Walking in the vast northern part of Kruger National Park. Credit: Pafuri Camp.

Okavango Delta, Botswana

Walking safaris in the Okavango Delta are brilliant for birders, allowing you to get close to some of the 400-odd types of birds found here. There are morning walking safaris available from many of the lodges, as well as multi-day trips through the delta. Learn about the fascinating delta environment, the plants, birds and smaller animals of the Okavango. You might also spot elephants, giraffes, kudu, zebra and impala whilst on foot.

Walking safaris
Walking through the delta. Credit: Ker & Downey.

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