Needless to say, a guide cognizant of the land you’re treading accompanies you. You’ll begin your trek by casually ambling about, smiling at the sun. Your stomach is full, from a hearty breakfast probably prepared on fire made from twigs in your camp. You’re breathing in nature’s rustic scent – cut-off from the society-at-large, without the weight of your quotidian worries. You might boast of having been on a couple of safaris before or this might be your first one. No matter which category you classify yourself in, you will always beam at the sound of twigs cracking under your feet. As opposed to the dust and fumes emanating from a 4×4, this self-made music comes as a welcome change.
Next, a variety of birds you’ve probably never seen before in the woods grab your eyes. You notice their intricately shaped nests perched in between the branches. You can even see some mottled eggs above a carefully laid labyrinth of small branches and scrapes. You realize the sheer amount of hard work it must have taken for these little creatures to build a home twice their size. Or for the dung beetle to do the same with a scattered mass of dung. Unbidden respect for nature fills you from within.
Sometimes, the twigs under your feet give away to animal poop dotting the landscape. Skeletons and remains are a common sight too. Your guide is quick to enlighten you about the creatures they have been sourced from. If you’re lucky and the shat has run dry, he will dissect it to backtrack the animals’ diet, and go on to explain how this particular species plays a unique role in the food chain and the ecosystem at large.
If you find poop fascinating, take this trivia – a hyena’s poop looks like a crumbling white ball. Rich in calcium, other animals feed-off it to intake the mineral. This, and many such “secrets” that otherwise pass-by one’s eyes are unearthed on a walking safari. Despite the number of small details you can take in, some people are still not completely satisfied unless they spot at least one of the Big Fives to boast off on their safari. Of course, it is relatively easy to catch a friendly herd of pachyderms when you stumble upon their large footprints planted in the ground. Every one of us has seen elephants before but witnessing these magnificent creatures go about their daily chores in their own homes is an unparalleled joy. Irrespective of the shape, size, and obscurity of the footprints, your guide will enlighten you about the species they belong to, just like they’ve done with the nests.
You’ve never seen nature so calm and serene, and you find yourself at peace. Suddenly, a nerve-pumping roar fills the air around you and wildlife goes silent. You might or might not smell blood. Either way, you know the king of the jungle is out looking for prey. Your guide will ask you to calm down and whisper your next course of action. If you’re on your best behavior, you have nothing to worry about as the lion can’t afford to spare a day with you. It quickly marches off towards its destination and expects you do the same. If you get fortunate, you might find one of these big cats pushing their wounded prey towards their lairs. Like we’ve already said, these creatures have far more important things to do, so if you do your bit to stay out harm’s way, you’ll be alright. In case things go awry, a troupe of walking safaris always have an armed scout in addition to the guide itself. That these people have been doing it since time immemorial and will be doing it on a hundred more safaris long after you’re gone should be a reassuring bit of information. This pretty much busts the myth surrounding questionable safety of a walking safari.
A walking safari is more than an epiphany of a hike and a safari. If you’ve enjoyed watching or have heard of the highlights of a popular safari destination, rush now to inquire whether they entertain walking safaris and gift yourself the experience of a lifetime. Many national parks are famous for their walking safaris and the diverse range of options they offer in this arena. Camping safaris are a thing, but if you don’t wish to stretch it for long, you can even go for a bush walk or a day safari.
Like we’ve said, there are an endless number of options to explore the African landscape, but if you want to pick one, a walking safari should already be on your to-do list. After all, there is a reason Jill Paris compares life to walking safari in her bestseller.