One of the most thrilling experiences is hiking in a natural environment, roaming between the zebras and the antelopes, and... well, the big 5. Nothing prepares you for an encounter with a lion or an elephant! or even a snake, when you are out there in the wild...
There are some very popular overnight safaris in the Kruger Park, taking only a small group - you will need to book months in advance to get into the 3 day hike around Olifant camp. At least two armed ranger will be walking along a group of 12 hikers. Age is restricted to above 16.
Many private game reserves now offer this unique experience. If you are lucky to get a good guide you can learn a lot about the bush and the wildlife. I carry my memories from walking in the Okavango Delta in Botswana in fine details. It was a humbling experience, to notice how small and fragile we are, overconfident with out human power and completely unaware of the lions in the grass, only about 100m away from us!
Jo Dale from the UK describes his experience:
..."We were awoken at 04.30 and after tea and rusks were driven to a site to start our walk. It was exciting tracking the lions, knowing that they could potentially have been hiding out of sight in the bushes watching us, this excitement was heightened every time our guides stopped to check the sign (or lack of) and when we were crossing through steep-sided riverbeds where visibility was reduced and where, had there been an ambush, we might not have come out of it alive! The tracks were shadowed by hyena about an hour and a half into our walk, after which time Steve and Michael felt that we were unlikely to catch up with the lions, who would be trying to keep ahead of the hyenas. Sign pointed out included tracks and dried mud where rhino and elephant had rubbed up against a tree to clear themselves of ticks and other parasites, civet and genet tracks, various scats and middens, remains of lion kills as we also learned about the medicinal uses of the local trees and plants. We stopped for breakfast and then came across a couple of elephants on our way back to the car, forcing us to make a bit of a detour so as not to get too close. A more worrying sign was the tracks of poachers and then we heard what sounded like people coming our way. Steve cautioned us to get down out of sight, just in case, but it turned out to be an anti-poaching patrol on the same trail as us. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief at that!"
Did you know? Kruger Park now offer walking safaris from most of the main camps. Book in advance.