As we are in the memory making business, we believe that a memorable safari experience is about the sum of the many parts. Skillfully crafted combinations of place, people and opportunity. And there is surely no more meaningful ingredient than quality time spent out in the bush on foot.
It is possible at the majority of our selected destinations, lodges or camps to do walking. The presence of big game should not be seen as a deterrent and all our guides are qualified and proficient in handling any encounters that may arise. It is our philosophy, of course, to respect the right of way of wild animals and to maintain safe distances at all times.
A game drive is normally about a search for big game or to traverse different habitat. It’s about covering ground. But there is a host of happenings, fine fascinating detail, that cannot be absorbed from the back of a game viewer. A combination of both is certainly possible and definitely recommended! Or even better still: slurp some coffee at the sunrise campfire and head out on an extended trail tracking and stalking big game along the way. A picnic back-packed brunch is standard operating procedure before returning to base for a hearty meal and some hammock-time.
It’s also possible to arrange a dedicated foot safari, based from a selection of base camp styles, should you be interested in pushing on further and deeper. It’s more about depth than distance out there, and walks are not considered ‘hikes’ in the true sense; they are easy paced affairs. However, our tailored multi-day itineraries can be modified to accommodate any special interests, and our well-known brand of personalized flexibility comes standard. Many of our safari concessions set aside wilderness zones for these products, where the impact of sounds, signs, roads, vehicles or camps are near to non-existent. It may also be possible to access these wild lands by traditional dugout canoes. For example, in the Okavango Delta in Botswana where dugouts are the most effective mode to explore remote islands and back-waters. These are ultra-secluded wilderness experiences, the pure form of safari travel if you like.
Perhaps it’s the silence out there that’s most deafening. Without any artificial barriers between us, a special union with the environment results. We become an integral part of the landscape, as much as the giraffe, the impala, the elephants, the birds, the insects and the plants are. Walking is ideal to discover more about the finer details; the ecology, animal behaviour, tracks and sign, birdsong, medicinal plants, smells, ancient traditions and so much more. Did you know that there is more biomass of termites beneath the ground than all the wildebeest, buffalo and elephant in Africa! Underground Africa is a happening place and termites are absolutely essential to the vibrancy of plant communities, soil health and energy cycles. There is life and signs of life around every corner, everywhere you look, and an experienced walking guide can open up an exciting world of secrets.
For us, a highlight of any walking trail is the opportunity to study tracks. The information that animals, birds and insects leave behind can be interpreted and weaved into ecological stories with incredible detail. Bush google perhaps! This ancient art comes alive on foot and tracking and stalking big game is surely one of the most exciting and memorable of all safari activities. Your senses are alive with anticipation as a fresh footprint or a broken branch indicates that an animal is nearby. Wild animals, by default, are shy of us whilst out on foot and will go out of their way to avoid us. Some, such as giraffe or elephant, may become curious. Others may be indifferent, and most antelope are ever wary. These are all primeval reactions, born from millennia of genetic memory, and walking in this environment is like going back in time to our own distant pasts. Africa is an authentic place!
It’s fair to say that walking guides do require a higher level of qualification, one with a special emphasis on animal interactions, safety awareness and a greater appreciation of behaviour. Walking is a specialized safari culture and all of our guides are not only suitably qualified in their area of operation but have years of experience to match this; an essential combination when operating walking trials in big game country.
Tuning into Africa at ground level, is where a special kind of magic begins, and the sounds, smells and sensations come doubly alive whilst out on foot!