Gone are the days when a walking safari was a route march through the undergrowth, only stopping for a quick glug of water and a soggy jam sandwich. At these top off the beaten tracks lodges for walking safaris, the expert guides will take you on a journey of discovery, from stalking big game through the long grass to enjoying the intricacies of a termite mound, on a multi-day walking expedition or a quick morning jaunt. Don’t be fooled – there’s a lodge, a guide and a walking safari out there to suit everyone.
Time and Tide Nsolo Bush Camp, Zambia
If you’re looking for a spot of history and quite possibly the best African walking safari you’ll ever find, then walk straight in to Time and Tide Nsolo Bush Camp. This pretty thatched camp was the legendary Norman Carr’s original bush camp in the South Luangwa, and he certainly chose a good spot. Walks today will take you off the beaten tracks along the bleached-sand of the Luwi River bed, through tangled miombo woodland and across open plains in search of leopard, lion and more. Spend a night under the stars in a remote fly camp between Nsolo and sister camp Luwi on the ultimate walking expedition: the Luwi River Trail.
Saruni Rhino Camp, Kenya
In 2015, 11 highly endangered black rhino were transferred for safe-keeping to the little-known Sera Community Conservancy in the far reaches of Northern Kenya. Today, a privileged few guests can book a spot in Saruni Rhino Camp, and head out with a guide and ranger to track the rhino on foot whilst also contributing to one of the most sophisticated conservation projects on the continent. Talk about raising your heart rate!
Combine tracking black rhino on foot at Saruni Rhino Camp with a few nights at sister camp Saruni Samburu for a walking safari to remember.
Footsteps Across the Delta, Botswana
What could be better than exploring the breathtakingly beautiful Okavango Delta on foot? Well, not a lot really, which is why you should visit Footsteps Across the Delta, an authentic bush camp in one of the Delta’s private concessions, pronto. A walking safari here is a journey of discovery, reminiscent of the pioneering expeditions and adventurous exploits of the original bush explorers. There’s not an infinity pool or a Nespresso machine in sight and it’s fabulous. Lace up your walking boots for three nights off the beaten tracks at Footsteps Across the Delta, then get your sea legs on for three nights at Kanana Camp, where mokoro trips (and a bit of walking) are the name of the game.
Goliath Safaris Tented Camp, Zimbabwe
No list of walking safaris would be complete without mention of Stretch Ferreira, the renowned Zimbabwean walking guide with more than a bit of a magic touch. Accompanying Stretch on a walk is the pinnacle of a stay at Goliath Safaris Camp, with 30-plus years of experience, he’ll have you nose-to-tusk with the infamous elephant of Mana Pools before you know it and show you the bush in full technicolour, high-definition glory.
Robin Pope Mobile Safaris, Zambia
This one isn’t really a lodge, and that’s why we love it. Accommodation on a Robin Pope mobile safari is in six perfectly-posh, dome-shaped tents that change location every few days as you stride across the northernmost parts of the South Luangwa. When you’re not tracking lion or learning about the life of a dung beetle, you’ll be swimming in the crystal clear Mupamadzi River or helping the chefs cook dinner over the campfire. Magic. Mobile walking safaris with Robin Pope Safaris are five-day expeditions at set departure dates, and can be combined with Tena Tena Camp or Nsefu Camp for the perfect itinerary.
Kichaka Bush Camp, Tanzania
Run by expert and totally charismatic walking guide Andrew Molinaro (Moli), you can do a bit of everything at Kichaka Frontier Camp. A morning on foot, watching elephant graze only metres away? Moli will find them. A gentle stroll along the river bed, bird book and binos in hand? That can be arranged. And if you fancy a longer walking expedition to Ruaha’s far-flung corners, the off the beaten tracks fly camp Kichaka Untamed can be set up at the drop of a hat. Three nights at Kichaka Frontier Camp will allow you to explore Ruaha on morning and afternoon walks. For fly-camping and longer walking expeditions, book either five or seven nights in a mixture of the bush camp and fly camp.
Naboisho Camp, Kenya
Free from the restrictions of the Masai Mara reserve, the private conservancies are a magical world of fly camping and walking safaris. Leave the confines of elegant Naboisho Camp in the Naboisho Conservancy for a night and accompany head guide Roelof Schutte on one of his famous fly camping adventures – he’ll have you descending gorges, following elephant at close quarters and give you a new found respect for impala. Naboisho Camp offers daily walking safaris with Roelof in the morning and afternoon, but to add a night fly camping in a domed tent under the stars, you must book in advance.