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