I’ve been planning and waiting for the walking safari since I was booking the flights and, yes, it was just fantastic. You wake up before sunrise, have a quick warm drink and off to the savannah. Walking there in the nature, trying to be silent, listen to the sound on the birds and the nature was just amazing, in several occasions we were just 10 meters or so from some antelopes.
At Lower Sabie rest camp, we opted for an organized morning walk rather than a game drive. We figured we'd stay warmer by walking rather than sitting on the open bus in the chilly breeze. Well, before we started walking, they loaded us onto an open-air bus to take us to the walk site. So again we froze for 30 minutes until we unloaded onto the open bush.
Unfortunately, we were engulfed in a thick fog. Our armed guides asked us to wait for a while until the fog cleared. The idea was that they needed to be able to see anything we might be approaching or anything that might be approaching us. However, the fog only got thicker as we waited. So the guides suggested that we drive for a while and hope the fog cleared. After another 45 minutes or so of chilly driving, it finally did.
It was interesting to actually walk out in the bush, rather than drive by it. But we didn't actually see anything extraordinary. We saw a few elephants, but the guides understandably kept us a very safe distance away (as in far away). And of course we saw impala, waterbuck and some giraffe. They fed us some snacks, which you don't get on the drives and I think you get more opportunity to talk to your fellow travelers on the walk than you might on the drive.
So if you're not sure if you want to drive or walk, I say try both. Each have their own rewards.
Game Walks – There is nothing more thrilling than walking through the African veld at dawn. The sun is just rising – the air is dusted with gold and all about you the birds are singing. The earth still smells damp and pungent.
The best time for game walks are first thing in the morning or late afternoon. These can be booked at the reception within each of the camps you are staying. They do fill up quickly, so make sure you book as soon as you check in.
Make sure you wear a decent pair of walking boots, or failing that, a good pair of trainers. It is recommend your walking boots or trainers cover your ankle (use a pair of thick socks if your shoes don’t ride that high). This is an extra precaution against snake-bites.
You walk with a qualified, experienced game guard. They generally have a rifle that they carry with them. As you walk through the flora and fauna, they share with you a wealth of information not only about the animals you find, but also plants you walk through and the insects and birds you see and hear.
Reminder: take along your hat and some sunscreen. Many a time I've returned from a morning walk with a roasted nose and stinging shoulders!
Don't forget to check for ticks on your legs and shoes when you return.
The camps where you stay in the Kruger organise a morning drive or walk in the bush every morning. Like the night drives you should book at reception or get your guide to do book it. I was at Mopani camp.
You are accompanied by 2 armed rangers in a group of 10 or so as you spend 2 or 3 hours walking in the bush. Unfortunately we didn't see any big animals, just some ginea fowl. there were some fresh Lion prints around! But I would still recommend it as it gives you a great opportunity to walk in the wild as you are confined to your car/vehicle at all other times!
In the wild sightings aren't staged and you have to be in the right place at the right time!!
The Nyala is looking very much like waterbucks sometimes and you might be confuse, but this one was not that shy and was very close to me on a walking safari.
It's a great experience! Had a lot of fun, but I must confess....it wouldn't have been so funny, if a hungry lion would be around... :-)