Tanzania Mobile and Walking Safaris - the best way to get close to nature

To walk through the African bush is to experience Africa close-up. Smells are suddenly subtle and varied and every sound has significance.

Birds and butterflies are individuals, noticed and studied, not simply rushed past in the race for the bigger game. And when the larger animals appear, they are met at eye level, standing on the same earth. Safety is not an issue - armed, experienced guides and game rangers accompany all walks. Your camp is packed up and transported to the next location by different methods: pick-up truck, porters or donkeys. The camping style tends to be lightweight and extremely mobile. You will walk for several days, travelling like nomads across the African bush often miles from any roads or tracks.

Experiencing African wilderness on foot is quite special and unique since it brings you close to the nature than any other safari options can do. Imaging you stand in a few meters in front of the pride of lions which scrambling on a carcass, herd of elephants or Buffaloes curious gazing on you uncovered by anything except an armed ranger. All these can happen in Selous Game Reserve, Serengeti plains, Sadaani National Park, Ngorongoro Crater High lands, Ruaha National Park and some other parks as well as the game protected areas in Tanzania.

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. Ngorongoro Crater rim walk – not only is the view absolutely breath-taking but it is also a great way to appreciate the size and diversity of the Ngorongoro Crater. The distance and route can be discussed with the armed ranger who will tailor the walk to your preference. It can easily be included in your itinerary on the way to or from the Serengeti.

2. Arusha National Park – Probably one of the best places for walking safaris as the park offers different options and routes. The most common being the walk to the Tululusia waterfalls. It is a gentle and scenic walk with good chances of spotting wildlife such as buffalos. The other more strenuous walk is the Meru crater walk. This route is longer, but truly rewarding.

3. Serengeti National Park – walking safaris in the Serengeti are not yet offered everywhere, but will hopefully be in future. However, a lot of lodges in areas adjacent to the park offer different nature walks. Depending on the time of year one could do a walking safari amongst countless migrating wildebeests.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Tarangire - 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.