On a typical African walking safari, you’ll awake before dawn and set off at sunrise to explore the wilderness as part of a small group of around six guests (a maximum of eight) led by two armed and highly experienced guides. As they lead you quietly through a pristine landscape of riverine woodland, mixed bushveld and open savannah at a relaxed pace with the breeze in your favour, the guides will pause now and again to read and interpret the dramatic stories of the previous nights’ life and death struggles written in sign and spoor along the game trails before you.
In anticipation of face-to-face encounters with Africa’s rich wildlife – including the ‘Big Five’ (elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion & leopard) – you’ll notice your senses becoming acutely alert to the the different sights, sounds and smells surrounding you. Learning about the wilderness and its ways, you will come to see the interconnectedness of all things in nature and understand the intricate web of life woven through her delicate and perfectly designed tapestry. Once you become familiar with the wilderness, it ceases to be a scary, alien place and you will find yourself being gradually absorbed into it, as the realisation dawns that humankind is of, and one with, Mother Nature – not above or superior to her.
The primary focus of an authentic African safari adventure should be on delivering the SENSUAL experience of walking safaris in a way that holistically compliments the VISUAL experience of vehicle safaris. Not only will you get to view Africa’s wildlife and landscapes from an open safari vehicle on morning/afternoon/evening/night drives, you’ll also get to experience it up-close and personal during morning walks, or full-day walks through the African bush.
Walking safaris in the Kruger Park operate all year round, with itineraries determined by the seasons. The cooler, dry, winter season (April to September) is the best time for full-day walking safaris. The hot, wet, summer season (October to March) is better suited to early morning walks and afternoon game drives.
Neither season is a better time than the other to visit the Kruger: In summer, the park is green and lush, alive with newborn young and throbbing with the calls of local and migratory birds from Central Africa, Europe and Eurasia. In winter, the park is cooler, drier and the vegetation is less dense, offering excellent game-viewing opportunities as the animals move around in search of water and grazing.
Typically, early morning SUMMER trails depart at sunrise and cover around 5km (3 miles) before a breakfast back at camp. The rest of the day is spent relaxing at the lodge pool, before the afternoon game drive with sundowner drinks and a night drive with spot-lights back to the lodge before dinner.
WINTER season trails follow the same itinerary (morning walks & afternoon game drives), with the added option of full-day walks made possible by the cooler weather. These walks cover between 10 and 20km (6 to 12 miles), depending on guest preference, with a cooked breakfast and a cold lunch served seated at a table in the bush in traditional safari style. Lunch is followed by a siesta before the late afternoon leg of the walk and an evening game drive back to camp in time for dinner.