Walking safaris: Your questions answered


Your Guide to Africa

Lauren Dold


Adventure travel

From the vast desert landscapes of Namibia, to the wetlands of Botswana, and the plains of Zambia and Zimbabwe, walking safaris allow the ultimate connection with nature. With your feet on the soil, eyes trained on the ground, it’s the oldest, most authentic way to explore a place.

Explore guided walking safaris
Wilderness Pelo Botswana Activities Walking

Experience wild encounters in the capable hands of our safari guides as you walk in the footsteps of giants: elephants, rhinos, and buffaloes. Or tread carefully over the savannah’s tiniest clues: the dainty three-toed track of a bird, the tell-tale marks left by a tortoise dragging its shell, hundreds of miniscule prints left by a band of foraging mongooses. Take in the big, take in the small, and take a walk on the wild side, making memories that will last a lifetime.

You may have some questions if you’re thinking about swapping your early morning game drive for a walk in the wilderness. We recently chatted to an experienced walking guide as well as a first-time guest to get all your walking safari questions answered so you can travel with peace of mind.

Walking safaris from the perspective of Wilderness guide, Lovemore Nowakhe



What happens on a walking safari?

First, I explain the instructions, hand signals, and communication strategies we use on a walking safari. We keep noise to a minimum, since animals pick up human voices easily, so I explain to the guests how to get a guide’s attention, by clicking for example. I make sure they understand the instructions clearly, and brief them on what to do in certain situations. The number one rule being to listen to your guide. Then, we arrange ourselves in single file, in order not to appear too big or threatening to wildlife and for easier navigation through the brush, and head out in search of wildlife – big and small.


What is the difference between a game drive and a guided walk?


Walking safaris allow us to see wildlife behaving completely naturally, in their habitat, as they do on a day-to-day basis. I once saw an African harrier hawk raiding the nest of an African scops owl. There was a lot of commotion from the chicks, and distress calls from the mother, and I was watching it all up close. Suddenly I heard a thundering sound; a tawny eagle swooped down and caught the scops owl. Very few people in the world have experienced that, and that’s the beauty of a safari on foot.



Wilderness Experiences Guided Walks


What do you love about walking safaris?

Walking safaris give you a totally different experience. By giving the guest the opportunity to explore the bush on foot in places inaccessible to vehicles, you observe the small things that get overlooked when driving around. It mostly makes people appreciate wildlife even more, because it gives you an idea of how people have coexisted with animals for so many years in Africa.


How do you approach big game?


Being on the ground with large mammals, you have to sneak closer to them unnoticed, and then try to leave without disturbing them. We use things like wind direction and cover to our advantage, so that we blend into the environment.


What do you like to teach your guests on a walking safari?


I especially like the cultural exchange of information. For example, I like to show my guests different plants along the way and explain their traditional uses; plants that are still used across Africa, that have been in use long before any form of Red Cross or hospital arrived.


I also like to tell them about the Little Five, which are just as important as the big ones. The Little Five are the ant lion, which is an insect, the elephant shrew, which is a little rodent, the buffalo weaver which is a bird, the rhinoceros beetle and the leopard tortoise. You’re more likely to see Africa’s Little Five on a walk than on a game drive.


Get up close to the wilderness

This is an opportunity to stretch your legs and fully appreciate the finer details of the bush, from the hard-working dung beetle to majestic trees. Look out for the spoor and tracks of animals, stop to smell the plants, and take your time to admire the smaller and often unnoticed animals.

Wilderness Experiences Guided Walks Botswana
Away from humans enveloped in the wild
Wilderness Experiences Guided Walks
Smell the grass and flowers
Feel down to earth
Wilderness Linkwasha Zimbabwe Safari Walk Couple
Heart thumping encounters
Learn about the small things
Wilderness Chikwenya Zimbabwe Guided Walking
Discover a new world
Wilderness Experiences Guided Walks Botswana
Wilderness Experiences Guided Walks
Wilderness Linkwasha Zimbabwe Safari Walk Couple
Wilderness Chikwenya Zimbabwe Guided Walking

A first-time, first-hand experience for a guest at Davison’s Camp in Zimbabwe’s Hwange



What is a first-time walking safari like?


A walking safari is truly an adventure. It’s like a shot of adrenaline, an awakening of the senses. It’s also a humbling experience; you get to be on the same level with the wildlife, in their habitat, on their terms. An urban, busy landscape feels very far away!


What did you learn on your first walking safari?


Being my first time on a walking safari, I was apprehensive. All the ‘what ifs’ played on my mind. But I shouldn't have worried at all – the process is straightforward. Pay attention to your guide, follow the instructions given and get to see the wonders of the wild up close. Your security lies in your own ability to follow instructions.


What did you encounter on your first walking safari?


I had the pleasure of seeing a young elephant bull grazing from 10m away (or closer, distance is relative when you’re overwhelmed by what you’re seeing), impala, kudu and zebra were nearby, but never too close to us. They're always so alert so it's almost impossible to sneak up on them. I also got to see a beehive in a tree – in fact I heard it first before seeing it, which is something you would miss on a game drive.


What were the highlights of your walking safari?


The adrenaline rush, the sounds and smells of nature, seeing an elephant up close, and the lifelong memories.



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Walking Safari FAQs

Walking Safari FAQs

Wilderness Ruckomechi Zimbabwe Gallery Walking Safari

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Let’s plan your next journey


When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.