A walking safari gives you an intimate bush experience.
Robin Pope Safaris walking safari: Our full report
In the half-light of dawn, you sit clutching a mug of hot coffee beside the glowing embers of the campfire. Slowly, the sun rises and the sky turns pink. Around you the bush is alive with sounds - leaves rustle, branches break, and a baboon barks in alarm. Then, as soft light banishes the shadows, you gather your binoculars and camera for a morning walk.
Walking in the bush is totally different to game viewing from a vehicle – and is not for everyone. If you want to 'tick off' big-game animals, photograph them from close quarters, and swiftly go from one large herd of game to the other, then walking is not for you.
You cannot approach animals as closely, or as easily, on foot as you can in a vehicle – but we guarantee you will learn more. You may start off a little sleepy from your early start, but you'll quickly wake. There are no noises except you and the wildlife, so everything you hear must be an animal, a bird, or an insect. With time, patience and a good guide, you can learn to interpret the sounds and secrets of the bush. You'll smell the presence of elephants, perhaps follow the honey-guide bird and learn about animals from their tracks.
A walking safari highlights the African bush at its best: a live, sharp, spine-tingling experience that's hard to beat and very addictive. Be careful though: watching game from a vehicle may never be the same again!
Practical DetailsIf you thought of walking safaris in Zambia as route marches where strength, speed and endurance were prerequisites, then think again. Your luggage will be transported ahead of you, so you need only carry your camera and binoculars. A morning's walk could be anything from 3km to 10km: it'll be more like a nature ramble than a strenuous hike. The guide might lead you to follow fresh tracks, or to sit under a tree to watch elephants bathing – deciding with you at the time what looks most promising. As groups are small (maximum six people), these walks are always flexible - there are seldom pre-arranged routes or fixed plans.
If you find the prospect of walking in the bush daunting, that's a good sign. A healthy respect for wildlife is vital. Animals can be unpredictable and, occasionally, dangerous. However, the expert level of guiding on all these trips should reassure you. The Luangwa has become the centre for walking safaris because of its stringent tests for guides, and the park rules that dictate that an armed game scout and a guide must accompany every group. It's one of the safest places to walk in Africa.
Finally, completing the complement for most walking trips is a 'tea-bearer' – a member of the camp's staff who acts as another experienced pair of eyes, whilst carrying vital supplies of tea, coffee, cold drinks and delicious cakes for refreshment stops along the way.
RPS walking mobileMany of our favourite spots in South Luangwa, Zambia, are small, rustic bushcamps that concentrate on walking safaris. Some walking trips base themselves at one camp, while others walk from camp to camp staying at several in turn.
Robin Pope Safaris has taken walking safaris a step further by running mobile walking safari camp along the Mupamadzi River, in the far north of South Luangwa National Park. A typical safari (maximum six people) lasts ten nights, with two nights at Nkwali, five nights at RPS walking mobile tented camps, and then three at Tena Tena.
The mobile camps used are simple but comfortable, with walk-in tents, bucket showers (hot water available) and long-drop toilets. As with other camps in the Valley, nothing is fenced, so expect to hear animals in camp at night and to follow their tracks during the day.
Look on the right side of this page for more information on Robin Pope Safaris walking mobile trips, including departure dates – or just click on the link for Robin Pope Walking Safari departure dates and prices.
As well as these walking mobile trips, Robin Pope Safaris also run Nkwali, Nsefu, Tena Tena, Robin's House and the Luangwa Safari House - all in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park.
Further afield, in the Lower Zambezi National Park, RPS are also partly responsible for Chongwe River House.
If you like the idea of the fly-camping, but want a much shorter experience of this kind of trip, then look carefully at the idea of slotting a night or two at an RPS fly-camp into your itinerary.
Ideal length of stay: Note that these trips run on set date departures. See our Robin Pope Walking Safari departure dates and prices for more details.
Owner: Independent / Owner Run
Food & drink
Usual board basis: Full Board
Dining style: Group Meals
Dining locations: Outdoor Dining
Drinks included: Yes - soft drinks, house wine and local spirits are included in the rates. Note that fine wines, champagne and imported spirits and liqueurs, are charged as extras.
Solo Travel: Robin Pope Safaris’ walking safaris are the top tip for our single travellers to Zambia; they are an extraordinary experience and they’re very social also. With busy days, small groups and no single-person supplements, these trips are perfect for solo travellers.See more ideas for Solo Travel in Zambia
Birdwatching: South Luangwas birding is varied and the Robin Pope Safari guides are generally very knowledgeable about the species.See more ideas for Birdwatching in Zambia
Generally recommended for children: No
Power supply: None
Health & safety
Malarial protection recommended: Yes
Dangerous animals: High Risk
Disabled access: Not Possible