Bush walk, safari walk, game walk … we’re talking the short stroll in lieu of a game drive here, not the full-on walking safaris offered by specialist operators.
We’ve all be on game drives and heard the guide tell guests to remain seated at all times, so why on earth would you be considering a walk instead?
Here are 10 reasons why it’s great to step out of the vehicle once in a while …
1. First up, these are gentle informative strolls not forced marches or long hikes. You don’t have to be mega fit, guides can tailor the pace and distance to suit their guests. Walks can also be combined with other activities like spending time in a game viewing hide or can be little excursions during a game drive to investigate something interesting.
2. Walking in the bush gives you the opportunity to experience Africa at ground level, safe in the hands of your professional guide. You feel the bush rather than simply observing it. You’re in the animals’ own domain, experiencing the world on their terms. It’s exciting!
3. Because you’re taking things quietly at a slower pace and viewing things from a lower angle, the small details that are easily overlooked on a game drive take centre stage. The amazing engineering skills and cooperative working involved in the creation of a termite mound, for instance. Bird calls, tracks, insects, plants, geology … everything takes on more significance and you gain a much deeper understanding of your environment.
4. Similarly, safari walks enhance your awareness and knowledge because you’re engaging with nature using all five senses. The tempting smell of wild sage, the velvety feel of an acacia seed pod, the fibrous taste of mother-in-law’s tongue root, the wind-like sound as enormous flocks of quelea wheel overhead, the thrilling sight of spotting big game at its own eye level …
5. Bush walks take you to places inaccessible to vehicles, again enabling you to experience and interact with your surroundings in a more rounded way. Whether it’s appreciating a particularly fabulous panorama, studying a gnarled baobab up close or spending time in an ancient cave dwelling studying ancient rock art, all these experiences are only possible on foot.
6. Your knowledge of the bush will also be boosted by the plethora of fascinating facts that can be imparted on a safari walk – the medicinal use of plants, bush survival skills, tracking, geology, local folklore and historical info to mention but a few. Bush walks can be tailored to your special interests. Tell your guide if you’re a keen gardener, amateur photographer or wannabe Bear Grylls …!
7. Just as importantly, walks can also be lots of fun – playing detective to try and work out which creature might have made the tiny tracks in the sand at your feet; guessing which animal’s dung you’re looking at (and if you’re really brave engaging in the local sport of impala dung spitting!) or analysing how fresh the spoor is. A good guide brings all this to life and it’s really satisfying to see what you can work out for yourself.
8. Spending some time walking instead of driving is also, of course, more eco-friendly and lessens your impact on the local environment as well as reducing your carbon footprint!
9. Given that the food is delicious and the meals plentiful at most lodges, it’s also a great way to burn off a few extra calories and make room for an extra slice of cake at afternoon tea!
10. Last but by no means least, safari walks are good for the soul! Reconnecting with the wild has been proven to be essential for human wellbeing. So what are you waiting for?
Those are just 10 reasons to go on a bush walk when you’re on safari, we’re sure there are lots more. Do share your thoughts or stories of walking in the bush …