Walking safaris can be anything from a half day to an expedition over several days. If you can, take the chance to experience the African bush on foot. Here are our pick of the best places to walk in Tanzania
1. Ruaha National Park
There aren’t many places where it’s possible to explore game-rich wilderness on foot. Kichaka Walking Safaris in Ruaha is one of those places. Operating in the quiet eastern end of the park, the base camp is located in a glade on the banks of the Ruaha River. Even before you leave camp you’re in superlative game country. Elephant feed along the river banks in search of fruits from the large shady acacia trees and game is drawn to the water in the heat of the day to drink. Sable, greater and lesser kudu, roan, waterbuck among others are common sights. Lion and leopard frequent the river banks and flood plains. The walks are anything from day-walks from camp, to safaris over several days supported by a mobile camp. You can expect to encounter all the major species in this part of the world and there’s a good chance of doing so on foot.
2. Serengeti National Park
Everyone knows that the Serengeti, with its world famous wildebeest migration, offers some of the best wildlife viewing in the world. Few people realise that it’s possible to do proper walking safaris here using a light mobile camp too. Only a handful of companies are allowed to walk in the Serengeti, but there are extensive wilderness zones where game driving vehicles aren’t allowed to visit. The experience of striking out on foot couldn’t be more different to game viewing from a vehicle. The pace is gentle and the terrain varied. Low acacia woodland provides cover, the rolling terrain slowly reveals its secrets. And scattered rocky kopjes make wonderful lookouts or camp sites. Sit in the shade of a fig tree high up on a rocky bluff with views for fifty miles. At night sleep under the stars after drinks and dinner round the camp fire.
3. Selous Game Reserve
Massive rivers, tributaries, lakes and woodland. The Selous is a wild environment hotching with mega fauna. The landscape is defined by hippo and elephant in particular. Much of the Selous is thick riverine bush, but the elephant and hippo have created an extensive network of paths in the soft sandy soil that conveniently link the river to all the lakes. These not only make the going under foot easy, but also reveal myriad tracks of other travellers – lion, leopard & civets among many others take these same routes. Quite apart from the big game viewing here, the Selous’ waterways are what makes it special. Walk quietly up to a lake shore, sit in the shade with a drink and a bite of lunch as wildlife comes and goes throughout the day. Or meet a boat and drift silently downstream to a flycamp on an island in mid-stream.
4. Katavi National Park
Katavi's a long way from anywhere, so gets only a fraction of the number of visitors a park of this quality would normally expect. Walks here are nothing if not exciting. Narrow seasonal rivers at the centre of Katavi’s flood plains look at first glance unremarkable. But the quantity of wildlife that seeks refuge here during the dry season – whether predator or prey – has to be seen to be believed. Pods of hippo can number in the hundreds crammed cheek-by-jowl into shrinking pools. Lion and other predators use the natural cover provided and crocodiles aestivate in tangled heaps in the caves in the mud river banks. Walking here is usually for a night or two as part of a stay at Chada Camp, although longer walks of several days can be arranged. Sleep on bedrolls laid out under the fronds of a Borassus palm with good simple food and plenty of cold drinks. Katavi is a thrillingly wild place – you can expect your share of excitement and the odd sleepless night, but the experience is one serious wilderness enthusiasts will relish.
This park can be overlooked in comparison to its more famous neighbour, the Serengeti. As a result many people dip into Tarangire for a couple of nights before moving on all too quickly. However, Tarangire more than justifies an in-depth visit, both in terms of its size and diversity and because it offers some of the best walking in northern Tanzania. The southern end of the park is the wilder region and, with its springs and riverlines lends itself well to walking safaris, whether for a night from a camp such as Kuro Tarangire, or for part of an extended walking safari. Wildlife during the dry season comes into Tarangire from the surrounding Maasai Steppe, lured by the Tarangire River, the region's most robust source of permanent water through the dry season. All the major species abound here and there is an excellent chance of encountering many of them on a walking safari.