Walking safaris in Botswana:
The first time you set off on a walking safari your heart is in your mouth as you head out into the wilderness where you know that you saw wildlife earlier that day. Is there a lion behind that clump of grasses, what if an elephant in a hurry comes charging through the bush, will herd of buffalos decide to stampede in your general direction?
Well perhaps you wouldn’t be quite so melodramatic, but your first walking safari is an experience which certainly makes you very aware of every one of your five senses, and you use them to the full. You will notice that the dust you kick up from the ground has a certain smell and you can almost taste the environment. You will feel the coarseness of the grasses and texture of the tree bark that you pass. You will pick up every little noise that doesn’t come from your own or fellow walkers’ boots. Your eyes will be constantly scanning your surroundings for any sign of movement.
You will see the spoor (tracks) of animals which you try to identify, and you might become an expert in types of dung and how old it is. Then there are the insects which make curious nests, and small creatures you’ll come across such as a chameleon. If you’ve only ever been on a jeep safari you probably won’t have had time to watch a chameleon do his tentative and very comical backwards and forwards gait, unwilling to put a foot down until he’s really thought about it.
Then your guide will stop you and motion for stillness and silence. Ahead you see a small group of impalas or the edge of a drying waterhole. You’ve seen impalas before, but this is different – you are part of the landscape now. And when two elephants join them, it’s hard to stop the grin splitting your face as you watch this scene without them being aware of your presence.
Your guide might ask you if you’re happy to go a little closer, as you’re quite some way off yet and the wind is not taking your scent to the wildlife. If you are, he will guide you closer and get you in a safe position in which to enjoy watching the scene. It’s something which leaves a strong mark on your memory, and I should warn you that your first walking safari probably won’t be your last!
Holidays that include this experience:
- Many other trips can include short walks in the bush
Walking safaris are not quite so well-known in Botswana as they are in Zambia, where they were pioneered. However many lodges now offer short bush walks, and some lodges have very good walking guides and walks are a focus of what the camp or lodge offers. It is possible to walk in the Delta, Chobe and Linyanti as well as in the Pans and the desert.
You can walk year round as long as you pick the time and place that suits you. For example, a bush walk with the San in the Kalahari is fascinating, but not in the height of the heat in September and October, and in the rainy season it’s mostly too wet to walk elsewhere.
By Amanda Marks, director of Botswana Specialists.
To include this experience in your Botswana safari holiday
Where to stay for walking safaris in Botswana:
Footsteps across the Delta is a camp in the Shinde Concession of the Okavango Delta with the specialism of walking safaris. It is open from March to November.
Motswiri Camp in the Selinda Reserve is known for its walking safaris and horseback safaris, though also offers game drives. An armed guide accompanies you and the group size is max 6 people. There is also a fly camp linked to the main camp, called . Motswiri is open all year, but Kala opens only in the dry season from roughly April to November.
Selinda Explorers Camp in the Selinda Reserve is perfect for you if you want to have a more active time on safari in Botswana. They offer walking safaris and canoeing as well as game drives. It is open from March to November. For something more luxurious in the same area, try Selinda Camp.