The ultimate way to discover Africa's great wilderness regions is on foot. A walking safari gives you the time to appreciate the rugged topography and varied plant species, sighting colorful bird species and becoming a living, breathing part of the natural world. It's not likely that you'll get too close to potentially dangerous animals, but for most travelers on foot this is probably a good thing.
For the earliest explorers, walking safaris were the only way to get around, and although the advent of reliable "off-road" vehicles opened up remote parts of Africa, safaris on foot are still the greatest way to tune in to your surroundings. In private reserves most of the lodges and camps offer half-day walking safaris as an alternative to going on a game drive, while some operators take walking safaris even more seriously, heading out into the bush for days or even weeks. In recent years, the African walking safari has come to be seen as the 'purest' form of safari and they are available in all the countries we visit.
On some walking safaris, there are support vehicles to take your bags ahead, while others use animals to carry your luggage. Even with saddles on the camels of northern Kenya, it's usually more comfortable to proceed on foot while the animal ambles by your side, laden with camping gear. Most walking safaris don't cover huge distances: the pace of progress is set by the slowest in your party and the terrain, with plenty of stops to examine interesting plants and animals. Typically, walking safaris start with two to four hours travel in the cool of the morning, followed by a relaxing stop in one place through the heat of the day, and then a further stroll in the afternoon or evening if you so desire.
While African walking safaris offer the ultimate experience of the continent, it's essential to use operators with a proven record of safety. The companies we use know exactly what they are doing, with experienced rangers taking responsibility for everyone in their care. In some places and in many national parks, your guide will be backed up by an armed ranger. The gun is very much for emergencies, most often being used only to fire a shot in the ground to discourage a bad-tempered buffalo, but it is essential that, should the gun be needed, it works and is in good hands.
The gentle pace of a walking safari makes it easy to get to know your guide and host, picking up practical techniques of survival and learning the secrets of tracking game. To guarantee your safety and ensure that you can fully enjoy the fascinating experience of being part of Africa's natural landscape, we have selected the finest operators of walking safaris throughout the continent.