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Walking Safaris options in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana

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General descriptions on

  • wilderness trails
  • backed up walking safaris
  • walking safaris from fixed bases: tented and seasonal bushcamps, lodges

 

Wilderness Trails

These walking safaris are well suited to active and adventurous participants.  They offer a rare and intimate opportunity to explore and learn about the African bush, its game and birdlife.  

  • These are "full participation" camping type safaris on which trailists and camp staff carry all gear and provisions in backpacks. 

  • In all cases the safari is lead by an armed Professional Guide and the group size is limited to a maximum of six members. 

  • The wilderness trails are usually a four-day excursion in a big game area. 

  • Water availability (springs and rivers), weather conditions, game activity, fitness and the interests of members on safari generally determine the route and pace of these trails. 

  • Traditional tracking methods are used - the objective is often to find specific game species including lion, leopard or black rhino where they occur. 

  • Bush skills are put to a fine test on these safaris. 

  • These safaris are not military-style "route marches" but a fair degree of fitness is required. 

  • Camps are generally basic, often consisting of little more than two-man dome tents for sleeping - mosquito nets alone, are in many cases a preferred shelter. 

The best wilderness trails are found in Zimbabwe's side of the Zambezi Valley; both Mana Pools (Chitake Springs) and Matusadona are particularly good areas. We strongly recommend Graeme Lemon's Wilderness Trail in Matusadona - advance booking is essential.

There is one wilderness trail with a difference - a grand portered trail over a week in the Zambia's Luangwa Valley is available on special request only.

 

"Backed up" Walking Safaris

The "backed up" walking trails generally trace a specific walking route through a wilderness area to rendezvous points en route where overnight camps have been established by a support team. Each one of the backed up walking trails that we offer is unique in character, they tend to focus on specific wilderness areas known for their remoteness, natural beauty or particularly good wildlife conditions. 

  • In each case, the Professional Guides who lead the safaris are recognised as being amongst the best in Africa. 
  • Accommodation standards vary from deluxe-tented camps to relatively basic fly camps.  
  • Similarly meals range in quality from regular "home-cooked" fare to "bush meals" - in all cases food is wholesome and provided in sufficient quantities. 
  • The backed up walking trails are often used in conjunction with semi-permanent tented, seasonal bush camps and permanent lodges. 
  • These safaris generally provide more creature comforts than the wilderness trails.
  • They're usually highly personalised and often limited to a maximum of 6 guests.

Zambia and Zimbabwe boast the better backed up walking safaris, Botswana has one particularly good backed up walking safari in the Selinda Reserve. 

We strongly recommend the following backed up walking safaris: 

  • Mupamadzi Safari, Luangwa Valley, Zambia: a nine night (set-date) safari that includes five days of walking on the Mupamadzi River. Combines with Nkwali and Nsefu camps. 
  • Nsefu Walking Safari, Luangwa Valley, Zambia: a seven night (set-date) safari that includes three days of walking in the riverine areas of the Nsefu sector. Combines with Nkwali and Nsefu camps. 
  • The Lion Trail, Matusadona, Zimbabwe: Graeme Lemon's four day backed up walking safari on the Matusadona shoreline. The area is famed for its lions - a boat is used to compliment the walking on this safari and is an invaluable aid for getting into areas where lion and other game activity is high.  Black rhino tracking is an option on this safari.
  • The Selinda Trail, Selinda Reserve, Botwana: a four to six day walking safari for up to six guests utilising the Motswiri, Zibalianja and Selinda camps, definitely the best way to explore the Linyanti.

 

Walking safaris from fixed bases

The tented camps, seasonal bush camps and lodges serve as fixed bases from which walking trails are conducted. In all cases, these bases are located in areas of exceptional beauty, usually tucked away and blending with the bush and terrain - all are within relatively simple reach of areas that have big game (elephant, buffalo, antelope and smaller mammals are fairly common residents at some of these camps). 

  • Generally speaking, the smaller tented and seasonal bush camps are located well within the boundaries of National Parks and game reserves - permanent lodges are usually found bordering on the outside of these areas.
  • The tented camps are usually centre around a tented communal lounging/dining area.  Accommodations are in large walk-in tents often with en-suite facilities.  Standards range from "traditional" to luxurious.
  • The seasonal bush camps tend to incorporate some tented accommodation but are largely made from local materials including reeds, thatch and timber.  They close in the wet season and are often rebuilt from scratch at the beginning of the dry season.  As with the tented camps, bush camps tend to be small, often accommodating a maxiumum of six guests.
  • Lodges are generally larger, usually accommodating over sixteen guests in individual chalets and bungalows.  In many cases lodges offer better standards than those found at some of the best hotels in Southern Africa's capital cities.
  • Walking safaris from these fixed bases usually take place in the early mornings and evenings when game is more active. Vehicles are often used to get within closer reach of areas where game is more prolific. 
  • There's always a lot of flexibility - as with the wilderness trails and backed up safaris, routines are largely determined by the elements, game conditions and guest interests.
  • Professional Guides are resident at all of these camps, often supported by learner guides and scouts. Armed and appropriately qualified personnel undertake all safari activities.

Fixed bases generally have more resources and additional staff on hand - creature comforts and extra activities are often more readily available. 

  • In some areas, e.g. Zimbabwe's Matusadona, boats and pontoons are available for some game viewing activities, birding and fishing. 
  • In the Kafue, Okavango, Matusadona and Mana Pools areas, canoes are also often on hand - a unique dimension to game viewing and birding. 
  • Night drives are permitted in Zambia and private reserves and concessions elsewhere - they provide an excellent opportunity to spend time seeking out nocturnal species (they also add more game viewing hours to the day).

There are a wide variety of camp and lodge options to choose from in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana - see our recommendations...

 

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Last update 22 December 2000


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