On many occasions during safari drives in the bush, I have caught myself day dreaming about what it must have been like to be a fearless hunter on foot, slashing my way through dense and unforgiving vegetation, fighting off biting insects and other small creatures in search of a wild animal to slay and bring home to my village.
There is something vastly different about conducting a safari from the confines and safety of a large off-road recreational vehicle to being ankle deep in the dust, walking through the wilderness – silent, yet abuzz with activity.
Exploring the untamed majesty of Africa by foot is one of the most exhilarating experiences offered here at Motswari and is a must to add to your list of unforgettable experiences in South Africa. Engaging all the five senses and becoming one with nature, led by an experienced and knowledgeable guide, a walking safari gets you immersed in the most astounding majestic scenery and can even mean a up close and personal encounter with one of the Big (or small) Five.
Not only is the experience incredibly exciting and thrilling, ditching the confines of the 4×4 to explore the bush on foot has a number of great advantages:
Despite the fact that the bush is alive with activity every single second of the day, the relative silence that can be enjoyed when not having to deal with the diesel engine of a safari vehicle is incredible. All of a sudden, each sound from the chirping of the insects and bird calls, to the rustling of the vegetation and distinctive cries of nearby animals adds a whole new dimension to the bush experience. The silence of being on foot also has the added advantage of making it easier to get close to animals without disturbing their natural activities and enhances the stunning visuals of the scenic surrounds of the African bush. (See more about our location, the Timbavati and Umbabat Game Reserve here).
How many times have you encountered a herd of impalas on a game drive and just kept driving, hoping to find something bigger and more exciting? On foot, these regal animals, beautiful and graceful, enable you to see things from a different perspective. All of a sudden, a sense of admiration and respect at their incredible tenacity to stay alive in the bush becomes overwhelming. Their vulnerability as prey animals becomes so much more apparent when you, too, become prey.
Although able to traverse longer distances in a safari vehicle, you don’t see nearly as much as you would on foot. There is an absolutely fascinating world of small animals, plants, seeds, insects and reptiles that thrive in the bush – all of which add to the wonderment of the wild. With an experienced and knowledgeable guide at hand, you will be able to experience this world and become more informed at the integral roles these seemingly small details play in the bigger picture. Who knows? You may even stumble across some old bones that have a wild story to tell.
Remember that day dream about the courageous hunter, slashing his way through the bush? Now’s your chance to do it! Armed with a professional tracker and guide, you will be able to learn this master skill and maybe even track a few exciting animals. From identifying giant paw prints in the sand, to learning how to read fresh droppings and even recognize the smell of an animal’s fresh urine, tracking is interesting, fun and adds a whole new dimension to the African bush experience.
Being on foot in the bush means you have to be constantly alert to stay alive. There’s no answering of emails or phone calls on a walking safari. When you’re strolling through the wilderness, you’re forced to be present, unplug and be totally connected to nature. And for me, there really is no better holiday than that.
Being so immersed in the African bush is an invigorating experience and believe me, your first encounter with a dangerous animal on foot is one you will never, ever forget. Getting up close and personal with this magnificent and bewildering ecosystem is nothing short of a primal experience and opens up a whole new world of the wild. So, the next time you pay us a visit at Motswari Private Game Reserve, be sure to pack your hiking boots and add a walking safari to your list of must-do activities. You’ll hear and smell Africa like never before.
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