The ten best walking safaris around the world

Nothing beats the thrill of being feet away from Africa’s majestic giants on an awesome walking safari, so… pack your trunk for a walk on the wild side

  • Get up close to elephants and lions at Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe
  • Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, Uganda, is the home of the mountain gorilla 
  • Go in search of rare snow leopards in the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh in Tibet

Walking safaris are not for the faint-hearted: you are often within feet of unpredictable creatures in remote locations with only a guide for safety.

But they are the most thrilling way to experience incredible wildlife and scenery — much better than rides in 4x4s as you are more connected to nature.

Here is our pick of ten of the best, although bear in mind that countries are closed to tourism now.

No harm in planning ahead though — and dreaming of a safari adventure. 

ELEPHANTASY

You can get  up close to elephants and lions at Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe

Stretch Ferreira has nearly four decades of guiding experience, operating out of Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. Walk safely in his company to approach large game such as elephants and lions.

After three nights, guests are transported to Gonarezhou National Park, where they will be guided by Ant Kaschula. The final stop is the beautiful Matetsi Victoria Falls for more game walks.

Best thing? You get up close to elephants and lions.

Details: A seven-night trip is from £9,919pp, including international and domestic flights (mavrossafaris.com). 

BOTSWANA ON FOOT

African Bush Camps has six destinations in Botswana, one in Zambia and nine in Zimbabwe — and it’s possible to walk the bush in all of them.

At Linyanti Expeditions, on the southern banks of the Linyanti River in northern Botswana, the two guides —named Dutch and 007 — are an educational, passionate and light-hearted duo.

The camp is environmentally-friendly with en-suite, chemical-free toilets and bucket showers. All types of game wander freely through the camp.

Best thing? Brilliant guides.

Details: Linyanti Expeditions Camp is open from September from £424pp per night, including lodgings, meals, drinks, laundry, game drives, canoe trips and safaris (africanbushcamps.com). BA (ba.com) London to Maun, via Johannesburg, from £993 return.  

GORILLAS UP CLOSE

Bwindi Impenetrable National Park is the home of the mountain gorilla 

Mahogany Springs Lodge in Bwindi National Park, Uganda, is a great base for gorilla spotting.

Track the creatures on foot through the forest — taking from two to eight hours — and then spend an hour in the company of a gorilla family.

The lodge is close to Bwindi Impenetrable National Park, and is also fantastic for bird-watching.

There are more bird species per square mile here than anywhere else in the world.

Best thing? Watching the gorillas interact.

Details: A three-night gorilla trekking tour, staying at Mahogany Springs Lodge, is from £2,299pp (premierholidays.co.uk). Ethiopian Airlines (ethiopianairlines.com) London to Entebbe, via Addis Ababa, from £692 return.

CHIMPS IN TANZANIA

The Mahale Mountains on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania are home to the world’s largest population of wild chimpanzees.

Here you will experience trails through dense forests on mountain slopes with crystal-clear streams and waterfalls.

Best thing? Chimps galore.

Details: Four nights at Greystoke Mahale Camp, including activities is from £2,375pp full-board, excluding domestic flights and transfers (nomad-tanzania.com).

REMOTE ZAMBIA

Island Bush Camp is one of the most remote bush camps in South Luangwa in Zambia —open during the dry season from June to October.

It’s great for spotting leopards set in an expansive area with good concentrations of wildlife. This was where walking safaris originated.

Best thing? Leopards.

Details: A seven-day trip with three nights at Kafunta River Lodge and two nights at Island Bush Camp is from £2,330pp, including internal flights, transfers, meals, drinks, activities and park fees (expertafrica.com). International flights usually cost from around £770.

KALAHARI LIONS

Travellers watch giraffes in the bush. You may catch a glimpse of the elegant giants at Central Kalahari Game Reserve in Dinaka

A private reserve on the northern edge of the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, Dinaka, is home to the Kalahari lion, springbok, giraffe, oryx and brown hyena.

With huge, remote plains, it is best for walking with San bushmen, learning how to survive off the land in this difficult environment.

Best thing? The marvellous and remote setting.

Details: A six-night safari with three nights at Dinaka, including an educational walk with San bushmen guides, and three nights at Kanana in the Okavango Delta, is from £2,624pp inclusive (kerdowneybotswana.com). BA (ba.com) London to Maun, via Johannesburg, from £993 return.

CAMP IN ETHIOPIA

Trek to the summit of Ras Dashen (4,543 metres), Ethiopia’s highest peak in the Simien Mountains on a safari of a lifetime.

Also included are visits to Gondar’s castles and the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, which are on the Unesco World Heritage list.

See extraordinary wildlife up close, including Ethiopia’s gelada baboons, indigenous ibex and Egyptian vultures.

This camping safari is great for adventure and breath-taking scenery.

Best thing? Camping out in the mountains.

Details: 12-day group trekking tours with visits to Gondar and Lalibela is from £2,795pp, including international and domestic flights, lodging and meals (keadventure.com).

SNOW LEOPARDS

Exploring on foot ensures minimal disruption to the snow leopard’s natural habitat and allows guests to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures.

During seven nights at Snow Leopard Lodge in the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh in Tibet, each day guests have the chance to venture into the wilderness in small groups with a guide in the hope of spotting the snow leopard, urial, ibex, wolf and Himalayan fox.

Best thing? Anticipation — will you see a rare snow leopard?

Details: A 13-night tour is from £6,600pp, full-board, including accommodation, transfers, flights as well as selected experiences (scottdunn.com).

BENGAL TIGERS

You’ll trek through deep ravines, past cascading waterfalls and thick teak forests at Panna National Park 

Tiger numbers have increased by 33 per cent over four years in the state of Madhya Pradesh in India. Guests can combine nature trails in the private grounds of Pashan Garh Lodge in Panna National Park with a traditional safari experience in search of the secretive creatures.

This walking programme provides the local Pardhi community an alternative livelihood to poaching for future generations.

You trek through deep ravines, past cascading waterfalls and thick teak forests, so you need to be fit and ready the adventure.

Best thing? The tigers, of course.

Details: A seven-day Taj Safaris itinerary costs from £4,550pp, including flights (ampersandtravel.com).

WILD IN ZAMBIA

Good spot: An elephant checks out the lunch menu at Mapazi Camp in Zambia

How about a tailored walking safari at Mapazi Camp in South Luangwa National Park, Zambia?

Deb Tittle leads the walking safaris from the seasonal non- permanent camp in a remote area, with each walk tailored around guests’ interests.

She demonstrates how to track big game and spot incredible bird life, as well as flora and fauna.

Best thing? Tracking big game on foot.

Details: A ten-night Best of Zambia trip, with walking safari at Mapazi Camp, is from £11,900pp. Includes all-inclusive accommodation, flights and daily walks (scottdunn.com).

  • See entry requirements for each country at gov.uk.

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