A walking safari in the wilds of the Greater Kruger is as exhilarating as it is meditative. Here are five reasons to sign up for a Kruger walking safari, pronto.
1) On foot encounters
Seeing elephant, lion, rhino or buffalo from the safety of a game viewer is one thing; encountering any member of the big five whilst on foot, is quite another. Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like seeing a pride of lions lazing about under a tree less than 50m away, or watching a big elephant bull pass by within spitting distance. The vulnerability one experiences whilst on foot in big five territory puts things into perspective, and the senses tingle with the primal fear our early ancestors must have lived with on a daily basis. Of course, walkers are completely safe, as there are two rifles on trail, but more than that, no animal will bother humans if left unprovoked. We’re just not in their diet, and there has never been an incident where a guide has had to cock their rifle at Africa on foot Wilderness Trails.
2) Learn a thing or two
If you were to test the bush knowledge of the average city slicker, they would probably get a score that would leave them red faced. ‘Why is it called a “white” rhino’?, ‘How do you tell the difference between leopard and lion tracks?’, ‘Which berries are safe to eat?’ If you’re unsure about the answer to any of the above, and feel like you’re the kind of person who needs a bit of bush schooling, nothing will educate you like a walk in the wilderness, especially if you do it with rangers as vastly knowledgeable as those at Africa on Foot Wilderness Trails. Their experience and bush-tuned eyes truly brings the veld to life for the untrained eye. They explain the symbiotic relationships between various species, why a tree was marked in a specific way, which plants humans can survive on, tracking, bushcraft, and much besides.
Africa on Foot Wilderness Trails is the ultimate in luxury slackpacking. The two guides who lead the walk carry extra water, a first-aid kit, snacks and, as mentioned, a large-calibre rifle each. Walkers carry a light backpack, and anything heavier than your camera, water and sunscreen is transported from camp to camp by vehicle. The three camp locations on this mobile safari are chosen carefully for aesthetic and practical reasons, but ‘mobile safari’ means that nothing of the camp structure is permanent. It is set up and broken down each day with ease, has little effect on the environment, and no trace is left behind. The camps are fairly simple: Four dome tents with beds and ‘en-suite bathrooms’ (access to a chemical toilet and bucket shower) are positioned at one end, while the mess tent is at the other. Your meals are cooked for you (and expertly so), drinks are furnished and a game drive is thrown in every afternoon. Life on trail is easy!
Fresh air is an underrated commodity. If you live in a big city, you’re not breathing clean air, and your office aircon isn’t great for your health either. A walk in the wild and breathing fresh, clean air will likely rid you of that annoying headache, cough or sneeze you’ve been carrying. A dose of vitamin D will also do you the world of good, and will help combat those mood swings and is said to be crucial in maintaining a healthy heart. But more than the obvious health benefits, a walking safari just improves one’s mental state, rewires the system and recharges the batteries. Bottomline: it simply improves happiness and health.
5) Find your Zen
Speaking of mental health: a walk in the Kruger is the ultimate meditative experience. When you’re on trail, there’s no talking. Apart from communicating in whistles, low whispers and hand signals, or when the guide explains something, walkers remain as quiet as possible so as not to scare away any game or birds.
Some people like sitting cross-legged on a mountaintop and humming to themself, and some like yoga. We prefer a walk in the wild to get our meditation fix. It’s you, your thoughts, your breathing, the light crunch of the veld grass underfoot and the sounds of the bush. It is restorative and healing, and life’s little stresses and anxieties ebb away with every passing day on trail.