To walk through the African bush is to experience Africa close-up. Smells are suddenly subtle and varied and every sound has significance.
Birds and butterflies are individuals, noticed and studied, not simply rushed past in the race for the bigger game. And when the larger animals appear, they are met at eye level, standing on the same earth. Safety is not an issue – armed, experienced guides and game rangers accompany all walks. Your camp is packed up and transported to the next location by different methods: pick-up truck, porters or donkeys. The camping style tends to be lightweight and extremely mobile. You will walk for several days, traveling like nomads across the African bush often miles from any roads or tracks.
Walking safaris – the best way to get close to nature
When out on a safari in Tanzania one spends a lot of time in a vehicle. Of course this method allows safari-goers to observe wildlife while remaining in a safe environment. Sometimes you may be surprised on just how close some animals will let you get. Take Tarangire National Park for example. It is a great place to see African elephants and these gentle giants are used to vehicles and their presence does not really bother them.
In most of the national parks and game reserves it is prohibited to get out of your vehicle which of course makes sense if you think about it. Most wild animals in Tanzania are well acquainted to cars. To them they are a normal occurrence and as long as you are inside they will not bother you.
I have on a few occasions experienced lions in the Ngorongoro Crater moving towards the vehicle because of the shade and shelter it provides from the blistering African sun. As you can imagine, this is a great experience because you get to see a majestic animal literally a few inches away.
I personally however really love walking safaris. They are a great way to get away from the vehicle and get up close to nature. Walking safaris can be booked when organising your safari and nearly all of the national parks on the northern circuit offer them in some form or another. Some are done by the lodges, some are accompanied by armed rangers and some by professional walking guides.
Often when sitting in a safari vehicle I see an interesting looking tree, but I can’t just leave the car to go touch it, but on a walking safari I can! The Tanzanian bush has so much to offer in terms of flora and fauna, incredible plants, insects, bird nests etc. The list is just endless. Experiencing wildlife at eye level gives you a greater perspective and understanding of the true beauty and size of the wild creatures that inhabit the different ecosystems.
Here is a list of my favourite places to go on a walking safari:
1. Ngorongoro Crater rim walk – not only is the view absolutely breath-taking but it is also a great way to appreciate the size and diversity of the Ngorongoro Crater. The distance and route can be discussed with the armed ranger who will tailor the walk to your preference. It can easily be included in your itinerary on the way to or from the Serengeti.
2. Arusha National Park – Probably one of the best places for walking safaris as the park offers different options and routes. The most common being the walk to the Tululusia waterfalls. It is a gentle and scenic walk with good chances of spotting wildlife such as buffalos. The other more strenuous walk is the Meru crater walk. This route is longer, but truly rewarding.
3. Serengeti National Park – walking safaris in the Serengeti are not yet offered everywhere, but will hopefully be in future. However, a lot of lodges in areas adjacent to the park offer different nature walks. Depending on the time of year one could do a walking safari amongst countless migrating wildebeests.
But for a truly wild walking safari experience one has to go to the south of the country. The national parks and game reserves like Selous are a great place to connect with the bush. It will make you feel like an explorer from the 1900s.
So if you are currently booking or are thinking of booking a safari, then be sure to spice things up a little by adding a walking safari. You will not be disappointed.