The very best walking safaris in Africa for 2024

Guided Walking Safaris in Africa

Be at peace with yourself in nature on guided walking safaris in Africa with Voyage2Africa. Getting out on foot to connect with biodiversity in all its complexities is a vital part of an African safari, more so now than ever before. Nothing is as revealing as setting off on short walking safaris in great national parks or long safari trails in incredible game reserves. Leave behind all your troubles when you hear the silence of the bushveld and discover just how intricately balanced wildlife and ecosystems really are. Leave behind all the civilized chaos you live in and remember how things really work. Realize how nature is a vital part of the human psyche. 

Read about the top 7 walking wildlife safaris for 2024 and learn why a guided walking safari is the best way to explore the great national parks and game reserves of Africa. Game drives, boat safaris, quad bike tours, elephant-back safaris and horseback safaris are all offered in African conservation areas but the walking safari is part of the human condition. Walking takes humanity back to time immemorial when our ancestors hunted animals on foot and lived within nature.

A ranger taking a woman on a guided walk in the bush
A Walking Safari in Africa offers the ultimate experience in exploring Africa’s untamed wilderness by foot.

Guided walking safaris in Africa entice participants to tune into the wilderness using all 6 senses – hearing its sounds, smelling its aromas, seeing its collective drama and beauty, feeling diverse textures and tasting its water. Allow the sixth sense to come alive in a deepening awareness of the innate raw dangers in the bushveld and its rejuvenating qualities. There is no place here for city air conditioners, fast cars, pollution, noise, computers, mobile phones and the clutter of thoughts in your head. The best part about guided walking safaris in Africa is the sense of excitement and freedom you get away from an enclosed 4×4 vehicle and led by an expert in wilderness knowledge. 

Walking Safaris in South Africa

Kruger National Park is synonymous with the great safari and is the origin of walking safaris in South Africa. In Kruger, avid nature lovers can choose between short morning walking trails, all-day walking trails, or overnight trails staying in tented camps, bungalows or sleeping under the stars. Timbavati Private Nature Reserve is a renowned walking safari destination on the border with Kruger in the Greater Kruger region – forever an untouched wildlife haven and recognised biodiversity hot spot. 

a woman going on a guided safari walk throught the bush
Kruger National Park walking safaris are guided by experienced rangers with an extensive knowledge of the area, the wildlife, birdlife and indigenous vegetation.

This region embraces the meaning of the word ‘safari’ and walking in the bush wins first prize on an overland journey or family expedition in the African bush. Timbavati is the epitome of the South African walking safari in Kruger. Simbavati is a sought-after walking trail company in Timbavati with superb trails camp offering apt walking adventures into the heart of the bushveld where visitors can explore the intricate biodiversity around them. Open only from 1 March until 30 November every year, the 2024 season is awaiting your booking for an immersion in the wonders of the Timbavati ecosystems and wildlife. Walk in a relaxed manner and find the tracks that lead to the animals, hiding as you go behind thorn trees and peering out at birds, rodents, insects and incredible medicinal plants. 

Madikwe Game Reserve in North West Province, close to the Kalahari and Botswana border, is a malaria-free enclave where walking safaris with expert guides thrill all visitors. Once a farm, Madikwe is now the fifth largest game reserve in the country thanks to the commitment of local farmers who added land to the provincial conservation area and helped with the mission to translocate hundreds of wild animals to this haven. 

Herd of Rhino in the bush of Kenya
You will see a range of wildlife on these guided walks. From rhinos to elephants, the Big Five is not an uncommon sight!

Wildlife-rich game walks in the 750 square km expanse of Madikwe are a highlight and birders will revel in the more than 350 bird species endemic to this blend of grasslands and thickets, on the Marico River.  Walking safaris in Madikwe are designed to tune in all six senses as participants walk between 5 to 10 km in the morning. This is not a fitness walk but a silent exploration of nature so every nuance is noticed and recorded. Stay at the glorious Impodimo Game Lodge, the first lodge in Madikwe ever to employ local Shangaans as their trackers.  This means animal sightings are out of this world and guests spend quality time with passionate nature lovers. 

Guided Walking Safaris in Zimbabwe 

Hwange National Park is a fantastic destination in Zimbabwe for THE guided walking safari. This famous conservation area is expertly managed and offers an experience like no other in all of Africa on walking safaris in a private and secluded destination packed with elephants and predators. Animals love to congregate at the 60 man-made pans created during the 1920s to water the animals in this dry habitat. Walking safaris in Zimbabwe are the ultimate African bush experience and Hwange is the best setting for walks based in special camps every night. 

Guests on a guided safari walk viewing the wildlife
Dedicate a bush walk to see the elephants of Mana Pools stand on their hind legs, trunks high in the air, in the hopes of finding juicy Ana leaves and seed pods to snack on.

Set off every day in different directions and walk to special locations to see wildlife and plants. Top wildlife guides and their trackers offer private experiences inside the park for participants with a passion for both walking in the wilderness.  Walk all morning, return for lunch and a rest during the heat of the day, then walk all afternoon and return to camp for nutritious meals around the campfire, bush showers and time to relax with a drink. Sleep under canvas on comfy mattresses and listen to the sounds of nocturnal Hwange, music to the ears. 

Another compelling place to walk is the lush environment of Mana Pools in the Lower Zambezi Valley.  Walking safaris in Mana Pools are especially popular thanks to its UNESCO World Heritage Site status and continuous wildlife sightings through the seasons around the four famous pools just inland from the Zambezi River. Huge old African trees shade rustic camp areas and walkers are never at a loss for game sightings, birdlife and incredible tranquillity. This unique ecosystem is completely different from the dry bushveld of Hwange – a vast floodplain where lush grasslands and woodlands thrive, home to more than 10 000 elephants, buffalo herds, lions, leopards, hyenas, cheetahs, and more.

Zambia’s Best Walking Safaris 

South Luangwa National Park is the home of the walking safari. It became Luangwa Game Reserve in 1904 with the help of dedicated British conservationist, Norman Carr, who had the courage to step away from traditional hunting safaris to promote nature-based tourism and walking safaris. In fact, his dedication as a game ranger in the 1940s saved the park’s integrity from mass tourism.  

Today, Robin Pope Safaris’ Mobile Walking Safaris are the best way to explore this captivating terrain, heralded as the first-ever walking safaris in Africa. Get out of the traditional game drive vehicle, don those walking boots, and go walking on safari in Zambia’s renowned South Luangwa National Park. Trails start off at Nkwali Camp and trail adventurers walk for 5 days, covering some 10 km a day, in a slow, steady, respectful manner, remembering that humans are always visitors in wild places. Guests also stay at the delightful Nsefu Camp, situated on a long, meandering curve bend of the Luangwa River. Established in the early 1950s, this South Luangwa accommodation was one of the first game camps in the country.  

Guests on a guided safari walk in Africa with an elephant behind them
Did you know? The South Luangwa in Zambia is considered the birthplace of walking safaris.

For another vast and admirable national park in Zambia where walking safaris are a great hit with wilderness lovers, visit Kafue National Park. These bush trails offer an authentic escape from real life in a wild enclave of animals, birds, plants and huge open spaces. See the world from a whole new perspective as you trudge the wilderness eagerly with expert game guards and trackers, finding out how biodiversity works and sustains the universe. Walking safaris in Kafue, Zambia, are a huge hit with birders who love the many forest, wetland, savanna and riverine bird species. Kafue National Park is renowned as the largest national park in Zambia, a thrilling Big 5 experience in an area as big as Wales in the UK or Massachusetts in the USA, an incredible 22 400 square km of wilderness! 

Tanzania’s Best Walking Safari 

It’s such a vast, popular East African big 5 safari country but Tanzania’s best walking safari must surely be in the splendid Selous Game Reserve, one of Africa’s largest protected areas and a place of such international biodiversity importance that it is an official UNESCO World Heritage Site. Selous alone contributes to more than one-fifth of Tanzania’s entire protected area network, a veritable biodiversity hotspot. Now called Selous Nyerere Game Reserve, this famous reserve stretches an enormous 50,000 square km plus extra buffer zones where the main attraction of course is epic walking safaris into rare habitats that reveal some of the awe-inspiring and diverse wildlife of the miombo – such as the elephant, black rhino, hippo, lion, Masai giraffe, zebra and crocodiles – and of course Wild Dogs. 

Guests on a guided safari walk in Tanzania.
Walking safaris in Tanzania are truly an experience. Your ranger and local tribesman come along to spot and interpret the animals tracks along the way.

Walking safaris in a game reserve are a bit different from those in a national park as regulations differ – Selous also offers something completely different in terms of terrain, scenic beauty, varied ecosystems and private accommodations. This game reserve is so vast that you need at least a week to walk around within its scintillating boundaries and discover the magic of wildlife in a vast territory. 

Is a Walking Safari Safe?

Yes, a walking safari is super safe as all game rangers are accompanied by expert trackers from the local communities who usually grew up in these parts and know the land intimately. They have all had serious professional environmental and safety training and they carry weapons just in case there is a confrontation with a wild animal, which rarely happens. Trail leaders like to prep all walking guests before the safari walks into the bush; they like to use hand signals as walks are usually silent. They like to walk downwind and encourage spaces between all walkers and respect for the wildlife, its habitat and fellow walkers. Above all, this walking safari is about you, relaxing in nature, destressing, and learning more about your world! 

Group on a guided safari walk in the Kruger national park bush
Wilderness guides are highly trained and incredibly experienced, and your safety is their main concern!

How Much Does a Walking Safari Cost?

Walking safaris can cost anything from R5 000 a person per trail to R5 000 a person per night per trail which all depends on the operation you choose and whether it is a budget, wild safari walk or a luxury slackpacking safari walk. A 4-day walking safari in one of South Africa’s Kruger National Park camps could cost between R5 000 and R6 000 per person for 3 nights in the bush, but a specialised trail in a private game reserve may cost USD 1 000 per night! The choice is yours. 

Walking safaris in Africa’s wide-open savannas, floodplains and woodlands with an expert guide and tracker is the height of any game-viewing adventure. Learn about more than just the Big 5, but discover a world of complexities and survival of the fittest. Learn more on foot than being in a jeep will ever teach you. A long walk through the African bushveld might be one of the best things you ever do in your lifetime. 

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