When I first told people I was heading to a safari camp called Africa on Foot where they offer walking safari tours, many reacted like this:
“Are you nuts?”
“Yeah, good luck not getting EATEN!”
“Why would you wanna walk? Don’t they have people to carry you over there?”
Truth is, I really didn’t know what to expect either. I knew there would be some walking, but I wasn’t looking forward to dodging lions and water buffalo during the mid-day African heat in the process.
Turns out there was no need to worry. The walking is done early morning when temperatures are cooler at an easy pace over even easier terrain, and led by experienced guides with rifles — just in case.
Safari-goers have a choice each morning of a walking safari or a traditional driving safari, followed by another driving safari late afternoon. Granted, you get to cover more ground in a vehicle and subsequently see more animals, but walking through the nature reserve allows you the opportunity to spot tracks and other signs of animals up close — like poo (and lots of it!)
Then there’s the heightened awareness and adrenaline rush that comes with knowing something could pounce from the bushes at any given moment, dragging you to a grisly demise. (Kidding of course, the good guides at African on Foot would never let that happen.)
The camp itself is situated in the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve — a series of private game parks that are a part of the Greater Kruger National Park. What that actually means is that it adjoins Kruger National Park, and since there are no fences, you’ll get to see many of the same animals. What is also means is that the private game reserve doesn’t have some of the same restrictions as Kruger National Park — one being walking safaris are possible in the Klaserie — but also that vehicles are allowed to go off the dirt roads, whereas in Kruger proper they must start on the paved roads at all times.
Africa on Foot is one of a handful of safari companies in South Africa that offer walking safaris. Guides need to be trained to handle any encounter that may occur, and the chief guide Rein (pictured above) has had years of experience here at Africa on Foot and at other camps.
Since Africa on Foot is a fairly small operation (there are only 5 chalets and a treehouse for the more adventurous), there’s not much chance of crowding.
And while I didn’t get to see as many animals as I would have liked on the particular day I went on the walking safari, I did get to learn plenty about tracking, spotting and the habits of the animals.
Plus I think I was spoiled when I got to see four out of the Big Five (and that amazing sunset) when we went for the late afternoon drive the day before.
Note: I was a guest of Africa on Foot, but they did not ask that I write a positive review.