A twig cracks, a rustle in the undergrowth and a tingling runs up your spine, tuning every nerve. There’s nothing quite like a walking safari, where every sense is heightened to notice the tiniest of sounds, faintest of smells and the smallest of creatures lurking in the bush.

Discover the secrets of the bush from a unique perspective

A walking safari offers a different kind of adventure for your holiday. Turn in early the night before, with your boots at the foot of the bed and backpack checklist at the ready. Early morning wake-up is served with a cup of hot coffee and a spoonful of excitement for the day ahead.

A walking safari is one of the top things to do in Africa. It allows you to soak up the sounds, smells and the colors of the bush in a way that a game drive does not. No more roar of the engine to drown out the sound of the wind shaking the canopies overhead or the hoof thump from a territorial male impala. A secret language of signals shared between you and your guide, as he gestures the way across the openings and navigates through thickets and woodlands, teaches you the wonders of communication in the wild.

On a guided walk, you are free to stop and inspect tracks left behind by a male lion as he makes his way back to his pride or scuff marks left by a dove having momentarily enjoyed a dust bath. Your guide may lead you to closer encounters with elephant taking a snooze or drinking at a watering hole, or on a challenging trek to a kopjie’s peak to discover what lies beyond it.

Take a break mid-walk, laying out a blanket to spend some time sharing a cup of tea and a muffin as your guide shares stories of their life as a walking guide. Know that when you step back onto your car for your afternoon game drive that you will head out more informed and versed in the hidden tricks and illusions of nature.

Walking safaris are not only for the ultimate hiker, but depending on your fitness, your guide can choose the best suited terrain for you to enjoy. Travelers up for the challenge can take the rocky uphill paths or for those who simply wish to stretch out their limbs, enjoy a slower-paced walk with a few stops to admire the trees and the birds. Whatever your walking interest, then each Moonlight Tours Expedition experience is tailor-made just for you.

Walking safaris

1. Kenya: 'Out of Africa' Walking Safaris

While most of Kenya’s national parks do not permit walking safaris, walking safaris are slowly becoming more accessible in neighboring wildlife concessions, conservancies, and private ranches. Kenya’s incredible Masai Mara National Reserve is undoubtedly one of the most well-known safari destinations in the world and you can join bush walks with local Maasai warriors, who certainly know the land best. With generations of knowledge, they share their traditional secrets and ancient hunting techniques.

On the banks of the Ewaso Ng’iro River, the Samburu National Reserve is also a great Kenya walking safari destination- not for the faint-hearted but for those who want a genuine adventure. The terrain is rugged, but the reward lies in seeing what few travelers ever see: an East Africa that is still as wild as it was a century ago. The Grevey zebra, Somali ostrich, reticulated giraffe, gerenuk, and Beisa oryx are just a few of the unique animals found in the Samburu Reserve, and it is home to a thriving elephant population.

Best Time to Go: Mid-June – October

Walking safaris

2. Tanzania: Remote & Classic Walking Safaris

On a walking safari in Tanzania its best to visit part of Tanzania’s southern circuit. Ruaha National Park is East Africa’s largest national park but because of its remote location, it’s a less crowded option, receiving far less visitors than its counterpart the Serengeti. The sceneries of Ruaha National Park are diverse, including grassy plains and hills, acacia and miombo woods, baobab trees, and the magnificent Ruaha River. Allow experts to guide you securely through Ruaha National Park’s difficult landscape, the same way ancestors of the land did, on two feet, and with the exhilaration of not knowing what lurks in the bush.

Tarangire National Park is well worth visiting for a walking safari in Tanzania. The park is named after the Tarangire River, which attracts a lot of animals during the dry season. Tarangire is a famed wildlife destination for its elephants, as well as its massive baobab trees - some over 1000 years old. You can set out on foot, escorted by a professional and experienced field guide, for rare experiences including elephant sightings, standing as near as 15 meters (50 feet) away.

Best Time to Go: Mid-June - October

Walking safaris

3. Zimbabwe: Walking in the Wild

Wedged between Botswana and Mozambique, Zimbabwe is one of the best safari destinations to experience the Big Five and other species on foot. Safari guides, especially those trained to lead walking safaris, are rigorously trained. Guiding is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation and Zimbabwe still has large rural communities, with people that are deeply connected to the land and its wild inhabitants.

Private concessions allow walking safaris through Hwange National Park that hosts a plethora of wildlife. With over 100 mammals and 400 bird species, walking safaris are an awe-inspiring and humbling experience as you traverse the same routes where animals graze freely, and you can see their intimate lives from a safe following distance. During the dry season, Hwange National Park hosts an impressive concentration of elephants that congregate en masse.

Northern Zimbabwe's Mana Pools National Park has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its prolific wildlife in one of Zimbabwe's most remote safari areas. The park is now famed for superb walking safaris. You can expect to see elephant, eland, buffalo, impala, waterbuck, baboons, monkeys, zebra, warthog and hippo, to name a few.

Best Time to Go: June – October

Walking safaris

4. Zambia: The Birthplace of the Walking Safari

South Luangwa National Park, the birth place of walking safaris, is a fantastic destination to discover on a Zambia walking safari. The park is well known for their extraordinary dry season walking safaris. During this time the park has one of the largest concentrations of wildlife in Africa that flock to the banks of the Luangwa River- a spectacle to witness.

Complete with comfortable camps along the way, multi-day itineraries offer the opportunity to explore these classic wilderness areas to the fullest: expect jaw-dropping game viewing under the watchful eyes of some of the best guides in Africa. You may be lucky enough to see wildlife unique to the South Luangwa National Park such as the Thornicroft's giraffe, Cookson's wildebeest and Crawshay's zebra.

Best Time to Go: July - October

Walking safaris

5. Botswana: Luxury Walking Safaris

Feel your senses heighten as you walk in the footsteps of Delta wildlife on a walking safari in Botswana. Learn about the nuances of tracking, including how every bent blade of grass and imprint in the dirt has significance, interpreting fauna and flora. As your guide describes the traditional uses of wild herbs, you will have the opportunity to smell and taste them. From the little miracles of the bush to the Big 5 that parade down the riverbanks, there's plenty to see.

If you're looking for something a little different, walking across the Makgadikgadi Pans is as unique as it gets, spanning 16,000km (9,942 square miles), they are the largest salt pans in the world. You may encounter meerkats and traverse the enchanting and desolate salt-flats surrounded by the Zebra migration that crosses through the Makgadikgadi Pans annually.

Best Time to Go: April - October

Walking safaris

6. South Africa: Walking with Safari Heavyweights

One of the best places to enjoy a walking safari in South Africa is at the Kruger National Park. This famous safari destination offers outstanding dry season bush walk expeditions with multi-day trips. As an added bonus, South Africa is a malaria-free destination, making it a firm family favourite.

Walking safaris are also available in some of South Africa’s private reserves, including those at Kruger, Sabi Sands, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal. They all offer interactive bush walks that showcase a higher level of detail that you wouldn’t normally encounter on a regular game drive.

Best Time to Go: May - October

5 Things You Should Know About Walking Safaris

Walking safaris, also known as bushwalks, is a more adventurous way of experiencing wildlife and landscapes. Exploring Africa on foot gives you a different perspective and makes you appreciate the smaller details, such as insects or plants you might’ve overlooked otherwise. Most notably, it instils a deep respect for Mother Nature and her nuances.

However, when it comes to a unique experience like walking safaris, it’s natural to have some questions. We break down five of the most frequently asked questions we get about walking safaris in Africa, answered by our Travel Experts.

Burning Questions about Walking Safaris in Africa

Here is an overview of some of the most popular questions about walking safaris in Africa.

• What can I expect on a walking safari?

• Are walking safaris safe?

• How long are walking safaris?

• What should I wear on a walking safari?

• Are children allowed on walking safaris?

What Can I Expect On a Walking Safari?

When you go on a walking safari, you get a different perspective at a slower pace. You also get to try and solve the bush’s mysteries. Which animal broke those twigs, left that footprint, or just made that sound? With your guide at the helm, you map out the wildlife’s activities and follow on their heels to track them down.

And then there’s the silence. There’s no rattling safari vehicle engine, just the sound of the ground crunching under your hiking boots.

It’s an all-encompassing experience, where you focus only on your next step and enjoy Africa’s natural beauty surrounding you. In a world where we’re constantly multitasking and distracted, it’s a truly incredible experience that makes you feel alive. It also unlocks a deeper understanding of Mother Nature’s delicate balance and rhythm.

Are Walking Safaris Safe?

This is one of the most common questions we get asked about walking safaris. And, yes, walking safaris are safe. As long as you follow your guide’s instructions, you have no reason to be concerned.

These guides and trackers can react quickly to ensure that you and the animals remain safe. Knowing the bush like an elephant knows its trunk is their job!

Some safety tips

• While on a walking safari, you should always walk in single file, following your armed guide and tracker.

• You will have to remain completely silent. This is to savour the experience, to allow the guides to be as alert as possible, and to avoid chasing away skittish wildlife.

• Whatever you do, don’t panic and run! Your guides know best and will teach you some hand signals and exactly what to do in each scenario.

How Long Are Walking Safaris?

You get different types of walking safaris. Depending on your group’s fitness levels and the specific lodge offering the activity, you will walk from camp to camp, or you’ll drive to a location, walk, and a vehicle will collect you from where you finish.

Regardless of the duration, they’re generally slow with sufficient breaks and suitable for most fitness levels.

What Should I Wear on a Walking Safari?

On any safari, neutral and khaki colors such as beige, browns and greens are best. Leave the bright colors at home! Also, remember that dark colors like black will absorb the sun, which will leave you feeling hot and bothered!

Since you’ll walk in the sun without any cover, sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat, and hiking boots help protect you against the elements. Comfort is key, so try to pack lightweight, flowy materials.

Are Children Allowed on Walking Safaris?

This also depends on the park and lodge you visit. However, generally, children older than 14-16 years old are welcome to go on walking safaris. Younger children are not allowed to participate as they are less likely to abide by rules and remain quiet when it’s necessary. Always check with Moonlight Tours Expedition Expert or the lodge when you book to avoid disappointment.

Are you interested in booking a Walking Safari in Africa?

If you’ve read up to this point, we can only guess that you’re itching to start planning your own walking safari experience in Africa!

Lucky for you, we’ve been there, done that, and will give you all the information you need to make it the best possible experience! We also know the best lodges for walking safaris, so let our Travel Experts plan the ultimate African walking safari adventure for you!