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Walking through the bush with only the breeze and some vegetation between you and some of Africa’s most spectacular wildlife is a thrilling way of experiencing nature in its purest form.

Walking safaris, often known as “trails”, are always conducted by at least one, and often two, trained and armed rangers. The opportunity to walk along the same game paths as elephants, buffalo, lions or even antelope provides the thrill of a lifetime for safari enthusiast and first time visitors.

Many African safari lodges and parks authorities offer walking safaris of varying duration.  Sometimes lodges will offer a “bush walk” during which rangers take guests on an easy walk lasting a few hours or longer “day walks”.

The longest “trails” are conducted over a few days and guests sleep in the bush, usually in tents. These trails require a reasonable degree of fitness. Before departing the lead guide usually assesses the relative fitness of the group and plans the safari walk accordingly.

The level of comfort on overnight trails varies from luxury tents, huts, basic tents or participative pitch and strike camping. The more luxurious trails offer guests the opportunity to walk with light day packs carrying only water, or soft drinks, snacks and binoculars and cameras.

In some areas dangerous game, such as elephants, rhinos or lions may be encountered but rangers are careful not to place guests in danger. Most wild animals will move away from humans and usually only pose a threat if surprised and rangers pay close attention to their surroundings and clues, such as animal tracks, known as spoor, or bird alarm calls, that may indicate large game is around.

In some areas both rangers walk at the front of a single file of guests, but in others one ranger walks in front and the other at the back. Usually no more than eight

guests are permitted on a trail. This makes it easier to ensure the safety of guests.

While out walking the rangers will explain many of the secrets of the bush that are not always easy to spot from vehicles. Plants, insects, reptiles and many other interesting life forms may be encountered and rangers will explain how all of these combine with the bigger more spectacular creatures to form the network of life in the bush.

Rangers will ask that guests are quiet while walking and should anyone have a question or need to point out something the best way to alert the ranger is by the clicking of fingers or a low whistle. The ranger will then stop walking and try and answer the question, whether it is about the identification of an animal footprint or a flower or a simple request to attend to a blister. 

Keeping quiet while walking serves several purposes – firstly wildlife is not scared away by human voices, secondly it allows rangers to listen to the sounds of the bush which may indicate that big game is around and lastly, but certainly not least, guests are able to enjoy the sounds of the bush, sounds that are sometimes inaudible when in a vehicle.

In some areas long walks are not undertaken in summer as temperatures can be too high for comfortable walking.

Safety precautions by safari operators vary depending on local conditions but guests should inform the lead ranger and or the lodge if they have any particular medical conditions.  Good walking shoes, sunscreen, sun hats, sunglasses and insect repellent are necessities. Binoculars are always an advantage.



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SATSA No. 207

Hartley’s Safaris is registered with Southern Africa Tourism Association Registration number 207.


Hartley’s Safaris
South Africa (Pty) Ltd
Reg no: 2001/006019/07
United Kingdom
Copyright © 2016 Hartley's Safaris SA

Okavango Explorations (UK) Ltd
T/A Hartleys Safaris
Registered in England No. 2348880
Copyright © 2016 Hartley's Safaris UK

SATSA No. 207

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Our ATOL number is ATOL 3958. Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website.

Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected.

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