We've got the answers to all of your Bushwalking questions!
Bushwalks are by no means a novel safari concept but have only seen a marked increase in popularity in recent years – particularly among safari veterans who are searching for new ways to experience the African bush. As with all new ventures comes a myriad of questions – Is it safe? What can I expect? What should I bring?
Not to worry! We’ve taken the time to answer all of your bushwalk-related queries so you can relax and enjoy the journey of discovery and excitement that is walking in the African bush. Scroll down to find the answers to your questions below.
Is it safe to walk in a Big 5 Reserve?
Yes, and this is one of the most frequently asked questions by first time bushwalkers. Many people see the Big 5 up close from the comfort of a safari vehicle and fairly assume that setting foot into an area containing such powerful predators is akin to adding your name to the list of menu items for the local lions. This is certainly not the case! These animals do not typically associate humans with food – food for them has four legs, horns, stripes and fur, for example. Additionally, we are an ‘unnatural’ and unfamiliar component of their environment and a bipedal creature they are not used to seeing. If at any point we break the threshold of an animal’s comfort zone while walking, this will often cause them to flee.
As with any safari activity, whether it be by vehicle or on foot, there are a number of important rules that we abide by to make sure all guests have a safe and enjoyable experience. The type of close animal encounters that are achievable in the vehicle are simply not possible on foot and guests can reasonably expect any Big 5 encounter to be from a safe and comfortable distance with as little disturbance to the animal as possible. With years of experience leading walking safaris, our trails guides’ understanding of animal behaviour and the environment will ensure you have a memorable and eye-opening walking safari.
What do I need to bring?
While on a bushwalk, your guides will be fully-equipped with first aid kits, snacks, wet-weather ponchos and spare water, however, is it always best to come prepared with items such as hats, raincoats (particularly in the summer months) and a supportive, comfortable pair of walking shoes. It is important on bushwalks to blend into our environment as much as possible, so neutral-coloured clothing is highly recommended (tones of brown, grey, green and dark blue). Much of the wildlife we encounter on foot will be viewed from a distance which allows the animals to remain comfortable in our presence, so those guests who own a pair of binoculars are also encouraged to bring them along. We also provide insect repellent and sunscreen for everyday use at the camp.
Do you carry a firearm on bushwalks?
Yes, but not because we expect to use it. There are certain safety protocols that we must abide by on bushwalks in Big 5 reserves and a firearm accompanies us as a last resort safety measure. Our top priority on walking safaris is our guests’ safety and enjoyment, but also the safety of the animals whose home environment we have entered. Our guides have an unwavering respect for the wildlife and will never take unnecessary risks on foot that may compromise either the guest’s or animal’s safety.
Our aim is to showcase the beauty and magnificence of the African bush to our guests with as little interference as possible to an animal’s natural behaviour. We have found that the most memorable wildlife encounters on foot are often those in which the animal is completely unaware of our presence and simply continues their daily activities as we spectate from a distance, enjoying a unique insight into the secret lives of these captivating creatures.
What is the difference between a walking safari and a game drive?
Bushwalks and game drives are two very different yet complimentary safari activities. A vehicle-based safari is a more fast-paced activity, allowing you to cover more ground and view a wider range of wildlife throughout a larger area. From the safety of the vehicle, guests are afforded the unique opportunity to view potentially dangerous animals at close quarters. Many years of vehicle-based safaris in the area has resulted in the animals' habituation to our presence, allowing them to relax while we view them nearby.
On a bushwalk we slow down the pace, covering a smaller distance and shifting our focus away from the ‘big and scaries’ towards some of the smaller intricacies of the bush that one may miss on a game drive. There is certainly the opportunity to view the Big 5 on foot, and doing so is a wonderfully exhilarating experience, but this is conducted from a safe and comfortable distance. As such, by offering tailored safari experiences that include both bushwalks and game drives, we are able to provide our guests with a more wholesome understanding of the African bush and its fascinating creatures - both great and small.
Do I need to be of a certain fitness level to do a bushwalk?
A walking safari is a far cry from your typical recreational hike or bushwalk, seldom having an agreed route or end point and therefore no urgency or pressure on those involved. Instead, we travel at the pace of nature itself – slow, steady and with ample opportunity to engage the senses in a way that is not often possible in the big cities in which many of our guests are living. Often, we let our senses guide us on our journey as we respond to different sights, sounds and smells and go exploring together. Throughout, your experienced guide will stop to interpret some of the interesting things that they spot along the way and take regular breaks for the group to rest and marvel at their environment. As such, there is no prescribed fitness level required for this kind of activity (although a moderate level of fitness is certainly an advantage) and the experience will be personally tailored to the group involved.
If you have any further questions that you would like to see answers to, please don’t hesitate to make contact with us. Interested in joining us on your own tailored safari experience? Contact us now to begin your journey of discovery.