Ali Rowley

Footloose in Africa

If you’re staying in a lodge or camp outside of the National Parks on your African holiday, you may be given the opportunity to take a walking safari or a nature walk together with an experienced and knowledgeable guide. It’s well worth taking up the offer…

Why?  You may well ask!  Nowhere can you connect with your surroundings quite as much as you can on a walk through the seemingly untouched wilderness of Africa. It’s a very different beast to a game drive or boat cruise – it’s just you, and nature with nothing in between.

I had been living in Botswana for a number of years before I finally embarked on a guided walk, and I wished I had done it sooner. The feeling of being out there, a tiny dot on the landscape, (together with your armed guide of course) gives way to a humbling feeling.  Your senses come alive and start to work in overdrive, particularly when you come close to wildlife. Speaking in hushed tones and hand-signals, your guide will relay more of his or her invaluable knowledge. 

 

 

“Each walk will probably leave you wanting more as you soak up the tiny details and the in-depth knowledge that your guide will pass on to you .”

On one such walk, we came across an elephant a short distance away, browsing and slowly making his way, oh so quietly, through the undergrowth.

As instructed by our guide we stopped, dead still and observed this magnificent gentle giant from a distance.  We were downwind from him, so at that point he had no idea we were there, observing him as he went about his daily business. It’s a surreal feeling. The hairs on my neck started to bristle and I realised I was holding my breath and somehow my senses of smell and hearing seemed heightened.

There is something very different about seeing an elephant on foot, away from the comfort of the vehicle. I consciously tried to file away the feelings, sights and smells of this encounter so that I could relive it at a later date – it was unlike any other experience I had ever had and it left me wanting to repeat it – and I have been lucky enough to be able to do so.

 

Each walk is unique and this can be down to many things –  the area you are walking in, the guides you are with and what you see and encounter on the walk.  You may not come across a lot of wildlife on some walks, but they will never be dull. There will always be tracks to be examined, bird calls to identify, animal droppings to study, plants and trees galore, some with medicinal or everyday uses for local people, it’s a fascinating learning curve and I guarantee you’ll never look at nature the same way again.

Each walk will probably leave you wanting more as you soak up the tiny details and the in-depth knowledge that your guide will pass on to you and file it in your memory banks.  Their knowledge is seemingly endless – I can now identify whether giraffe droppings come from a male or female giraffe and I know the difference between an active termite mound and an abandoned one.

These are just two tiny snippets of what I have learned on various walks in the African bush – there is so much more but we’ll be here forever, why not try it out for yourself and see how much incredible bush knowledge you can pick up?  It will astound you and it’s a memorable experience to boot!

 

If you fancy going footloose in Africa, talk to us about including a walking safari or an experience such as a Maasai walking excursion in Kenya or a walk with San Bushmen in Botswana in your itinerary.

Or why consider one of our itineraries that already feature this experience, including:

Ali Rowley

Ali Rowley

Travel has always been part of Ali's life. Since moving to Holland at the age of 4, she hasn't stopped travelling since, taking in Asia, America, large chunks of Europe, culminating in 12 years in Africa. Always keen to visit new and exciting places, meet local people and experience different cultures has resulted in some fantastic experiences over the years. Still on the wish list though, is to see tigers in the wild.