| Doing bush walks is an exciting alternative, or complement, to game
drives. On foot in the bush, you will have time enough to notice details in the
surrounding landscape, to see spoors from animals, to hear birds and smell the African
nature. And when there is a smell of animal around, there is no car window between you
and the source of it.
Good walks are done in areas where there are no roads and no safari vehicles, where
you can really experience the wilderness. Animals generally avoid humans on foot, though,
and you do not get as close to the wildlife as when game driving.
Walking is not allowed in the major parks,
such as Masai
and the Ngorongoro Crater, but may be done just outside
the park borders.
Short walks and day tours
One or two short walks are included in some safari itineraries where the game viewing
is otherwise done by game driving. It may be a nice break to get out of the car for
half a day, and to have some exercise. Such walks are rarely very hard, but may be hot
unless done in the morning or evening. Walks in mountainous areas, such as in the Ngorongoro
highlands or around Kilimanjaro
Kenya, usually include walking up- and downhill.
You need to bring some kind of bag to carry water, your camera and binoculars, and (if
you are having a picnic lunch during the walk) a lunch pack.
If there are no walks included in the packaged tours available to you, you may turn
to a travel
companies specialized in Kenya
to have a suitable itinerary tailored for you. Many tented
camp and lodges
arrange different kinds of activities, including walk.
Safaris by road dominate, but there are also walking safaris, where all or most game
viewing is done on foot. You may spend a couple of days or up to a week in the bush,
staying in small camps and enjoying the African wilderness at close range. You can't
cover the same distances as by car, and will thus not find or see as many animals as
when game driving, but you will have an intense wilderness experience.
Few animals in the bush search confrontations, but some may turn dangerous if met, especially
if the meeting is handled the wrong way. For safety reasons, all walks in wildlife areas
should be escorted. If there are potentially dangerous animals around, the escort should
If a walk is led by an experienced guide, you may see or meet lions, African buffalos
and elephants without anything unpleasant happening. Animals are individuals, though,
and are not 100 % predictable.
There may be age limits for bush walks arranged by local tour
operators, camps and lodges. On such activities, the ability to act disciplined
and follow instructions may be of great importance for safety, and 15 years is often
a lower age limit.
Lions avoid humans
Meeting a lion on a walk doesn't mean that the lion gets a free lunch. Lions usually
avoid humans. So do most animals, including snakes. You should keep an eye on where
you walk, though, as there are snake species that freeze instead of moving away when
Walks in daytime only
All walks are done in daylight, as night walks are considerably more dangerous. The
big predators are much more active at night, and because of the dark, the surrounding
terrain can't be overviewed and safety not assessed.
Where to walk
You should check up your options for doing bush walks before booking a safari, and make
sure the itinerary includes or allows for the walks that you want to do. Walks need
to be planned. Time for walking has to be set aside in the itinerary, and you need to
visit areas suitable for walks. It is usually pointless to book just any safari and
then ask the local tour operator or your driver guide for walks after arriving in Kenya
No walks in national parks
Good walks can't be done everywhere. They are not allowed at all in most (and the best)
national parks and national reserves, such as Masai Mara
and Serengeti. (If an itinerary includes walks in such
an area, it's done outside the park border, where the park rules don't apply.)
You may only visit these parks to do game drives, i.e. view the wildlife from safari
vehicles. There are usually some places in the parks where you can leave the vehicle
and stretch your legs, for example observation points or picnic sites.
There are parks where walking is allowed, though. These are often parks where visitors
are fewer (compared to the most popular parks), where there are no roads for vehicles,
or where park rules are just less strict, typically in game reserves and private reserves.
A park where good walking may be done is Selous in southern
Tanzania. You may also walk in Kenyan Hell's
Gate, and in Ngorongoro Conservation Area (except
for in the Ngorongoro Crater) in Tanzania. Oliver's Camp
has a special permit to do walks inside Tarangire National
Park in Tanzania, where walking is otherwise not allowed.
Kenya has private reserves and wildlife conservancies where walks are arranged by the
local camps or lodges. Many of these are found on the Laikipia
Plateau in central Kenya. Even bush walks at night are offered in some of these
Walking with the Maasai
Some camps in the Masai Mara region in Kenya arrange bush walks and walking safaris
escorted by local Maasai
warriors, armed not with guns but with traditional weapons such as spears, knives and
clubs. Such walks are done outside the Masai Mara National Reserve, in areas where few
or no vehicles are seen. Most kinds of large mammals may be encountered, including lions,
leopards, buffalos and elephants.
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