Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Walking Safaris

The walking safari is just about the ultimate African experience (or survivable one, at least), although, again, is only available in a restricted number of destinations. Often a walking safari will be undertaken from more remote, and rustic, bush camp, or even using mobile fly-tent camping, traveling from location to location. In principle you don’t get quite as close to big game as you would in a vehicle (although in practice it can turn out to be just the opposite!), but you also get the opportunity to study things – such as insects, trees, droppings and spoor – that you normally never observe from a vehicle. You can’t walk at night, of course, but secure in your rustic camp you will be very much aware that you are in the heart of the African bush and very close to its inhabitants.

The whole idea of the walking safari was first developed in Zambia in the 1950s, by the legendary Norman Carr, seen here with friends. While out walking in the bush there are certain rules and procedures that should be obeyed. You will always be accompanied by an armed Park scout, who leads. Next in line is the guide, followed by the guests, the rear (usually) being brought up by the tea bearer (who also carries spare water). It is important to walk in line, close up, so that any predator only sees a very long animal that he doesn’t recognise. Frequently the guide will halt the walk to point out something of interest, and you can then all gather around. For this reason, it is good – indeed essential – etiquette to alternate the order of walking periodically so that everybody gets the opportunity to be close to the guide, and can bring his attention to anything that they would like explained.

In the event of any potentially dangerous encounter it is the armed scout’s responsibility to deal with the situation (in fact his major role is to make sure that the animal itself doesn’t come to harm, rather than to blast away at it!). The guide’s responsibility is to look after you (aided by the tea bearer behind you), so, as before, you need to obey him unquestioningl