More and more companies are offering walking safaris, and it really is an amazing experience. You'll get to see nature close up. You walk in small groups, usually no more than six. You have a guide and often a guard, both of whom are armed in case of emergency. Don't let that alarm you though, reputable companies have highly professional guides trained to avoid dangerous situations. Guides who get their guests into a situation where they are forced to fire even a warning shot will get into all kinds of trouble with the authorities.
Having said that, don't expect to get as close to the animals as you would in a vehicle, to which they have become somewhat habituated. Nevertheless, your guide will get you as close as is safely possible given cover and wind conditions.
Our guide at Rhino Walking Safaris at Kruger National Park in South Africa took us to within twenty metres of a white rhino by skillfully using the wind direction and by keeping us behind a fallen tree which had the animal charged, it would not be able to jump over. Rhino's not surprisingly are not great jumpers. It was incredible to be so close on foot to such a huge animal - a real adrenaline rush.
Being on foot within a hundred metres of a herd of elephants is quite a buzz too. Even at a distance you can feel the power and size of these wonderful creatures, and you'll hear the rumbles and squeaks of their communications. Lions are good fun too, though they'll see you more often than you'll see them on foot. They're not going to attack a group of people, but will stay warily in the distance watching you intently as you pass by.
You will see some wonderful insect and bird life. You'll learn the importance of termites and dung beetles to the environment. You may find a hornbill nest - a hole in a tree, sealed by mud except for a narrow slit by the male bird. The female lays her eggs in the hole and the male feeds her and the chicks through the slit. The female then goes through a complete moult and loses the ability to fly. Once she has regrown her plumage she breaks out of the nest opening which is then resealed by the chicks. Both adults then feed the chicks through the slit until they are old enough to break out and fly themselves.
Your guide will also show you the various animal tracks and teach you how to identify which animals have passed by looking at their dung. Giraffe droppings are very small for the size of the animal and the droppings of male and female are different. You'll be looking at poo in an entirely different light by the end of the walk.
So don't be afraid, be a little adventurous, do a walking safari and see the real Africa. Here are a few examples of some companies that offer professionally guided walking safaris.
Rhino Walking Safaris - Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Norman Carr Safaris - South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
Robin Pope Safaris - South Luangwa National Park, Zambia.
Wilderness Journeys - Serengeti National Park, Tanzania.
There are many others. Call me for details, Peter Emery 1300 822 646.