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Walking Safaris In Tanzania
Tanzania is one of the best places for walking safaris in Africa. It is however critical to know the difference between ‘trekking up slopes’ as in climbing Kilimanjaro or even Mt Meru and a true walking safari in Tanzania. We work some of Tanzania’s best walking safari guides, who have led walking safaris through the majority of the specialist walking safari areas in Tanzania, including the Ruaha, Selous, Arusha and Mahale. These walking safari guides have been among the early pioneers of longer walking safaris in the Ngorongoro Highlands and the Gol Mountains in the north.
Tanzania also contains some of the greatest National Parks and wildlife areas remaining on the planet. A few days in its wilderness will exhilarate you and give you a brief glimpse into how the world used to be, back as far as the dawn of mankind.
When most people think of going on safari, images of riding in jeeps with a guide as you take on the rough dirt tracks on the plains of the Serengeti spring to mind, but walking safaris are an experience that allows visitors to get closer to nature and really engage with the sights and smells of the bush. Naturally, there are not walking trails that you can explore at your leisure; walking safaris are operated by different camps within different parks by highly trained and extremely well-armed guides and rangers.
There are some guidelines for visitors to follow if they want to take part in a walking safari; these include wearing long trousers and subtle, muted colours for exploring the bush in. Suitable footwear such as walking boots rather than flip flops are required. The most important rule on a walking safari is listening to your guides who will give instructions on how to enjoy a safe walking safari.
Lodges in the southern and western parks of Tanzania offer walking safaris, though not all of them of this particular activity, it is best to check before you book. The lodges in Selous and Ruaha offer particularly excellent walking safari experiences, but there are other parks that offer this activity, though few of the Northern Tanzania Safari parks offer walking safaris exceptions are Arusha and Ngorongoro.
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A Description of a walking safari in Arusha National Park
To get as close to nature as possible, a walking safari is not to be missed. Escape the modern world completely and immerse yourself in pure wilderness and get a taste of safari and adventure the way it used to be done “old style”.
A truly educational experience and a sensory overload awaits you as you carefully trek through the bush and get a sense of how our ancestors used to get about, a feeling very few people in this day and age can achieve. On your hike you are accompanied by an armed ranger, just in case you meet an elephant, buffalo or even a leopard.
As mentioned before there are no lions in Arusha park, because of the altitude and also the bush is very dense here, far from ideal lion country. Of course, the ranger is there as a guide primarily, and only in case of emergency will his firearm be required. Please just remember: Don’t move away from the ranger; walk close to him at all times and listen to what he tells you.
You’ll realize it is a very special feeling, to be right among the animals without the iron sheets of a safari vehicle between you and your natural surroundings. Although you encounter wildlife frequently, wilderness is the goal. By adjusting the length and pace of the walk to your own pace, the emphasis can be on taking it slowly and having time to smell trees and flowers, not simply hiking for hiking’s sake. In the lower areas, giraffes pass by majestically, you might hear an elephant trumpet or baboons bark while you walk by.
Soon you reach Ngare Nanyuki River, which you cross together with your ranger over a small bridge. Then you make your way through an area of rich open glades in which you see buffalos and giraffes again and sometimes a few crowned cranes or saddle-billed storks. After this stretch you climb a track into the mountain forest. The mountain forest is clear of low lying vegetation and is a good place for you to spot black-fronted duiker and bushbuck. Both are shy antelope but a walking safari through the forest gives you the best chance to view them.
This is followed by an idyllic stroll through lush rainforest on the eastern slopes of the extinct volcano. If you peer into the dense rainforest, you might be able to spot the silvery-cheeked hornbill and the already mentioned Hartlaub’s turaco; this is an extremely beautiful bird, its crimson wings flash through the dense lianas like a scarlet flame.
You can also identify numerous yellowwoods (Podocarpus milanijanus) coated with the old man‟s beard lichen (Usnea sp.). This is a symbiotic combination of algae and fungus in such intimate association that they are classified as a distinct species.
Further up your track passes right through a “tunnel tree” – a giant strangler fig that arches over the road. Strangler figs get their start from seeds deposited in bird droppings among the leafy detritus that collects in the nooks and crannies of large trees. The fig grows in both directions: it sends roots toward the ground, wrapping woody bonds around the trunk of the host tree, while its foliage grows up toward the light. Eventually, the fig can get large enough to block the life-giving sun from its host. In the case of the Fig Tree Arch, two trees died to support the giant parasite. The curtain of aerial roots through which you walk is kept open by the browsing of elephants.
Exiting the rainforest you reach clearings from where you can enjoy beautiful views over the Momella Lakes and the plains beyond. Also Mt. Kilimanjaro presents itself from these viewpoints in its full beauty, the perfect African backdrop on your walking safari; of course the view is dependent on the weather and the cloud cover. Just sit down for a while, relax and enjoy the silence, listen to the sounds of nature and forget the loud and hectic activities of our civilized world.
Walking in the forest is pleasant and there is no better way to appreciate its subtle beauty. Carpets of purple balsam flowers (Impatiens papilionacea) grow on the shady forest floor, along with delicate violets. Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) also occurs, in small clumps by the track, the dark centers of its glowing orange flowers giving the plant its common name. The bright red blooms of fireball lilies (Scadoxus multiflorus) are most conspicuous after the rains.
Walking also makes it easier to spot colobus monkeys again. They’ll offer you quite a memorable sight when jumping and swinging over long distances through the forest canopy, waving their black and white extremely long furry tails. Their calls, which you might hear, are a guttural roar, which is rapidly repeated in chorus. You’ll also observe some more forest birds such as Narina’s trogan and the red-fronted parrot.
As your walking safari comes to an end, your driver is waiting for you at the start point of your walk.
As there are no other camps in the same area of the Ruaha National Park as Jongomero, visitors can be assured that they are getting not only a trip of seclusion away from other guests, but a inimitae experience of the game in the park.
The walking safaris run by the Jongomero camp are excellent Tanzania Safaris because of the passion that those who run the camp have for the local wildlife that they manage to instil in visitors as they take them around the park. With herds of elephants, greater and lesser kudu, Grant’s gazelles, cheetahs, leopards, lions, wild dogs, hyenas, buffalo, impalas, zebras and defassa waterbucks roaming across the park, there really is no better place to go on a walking safari to see such a wide range of game than in Ruaha National Park.
Beho Beho, Selous
With some of the most stunning views you will find in Selous, panoramic views come as standard at the Beho Beho, the guides that run the walking safaris from the Beho Beho camp are some of the best in Africa. Knowledgeable as well as passionate and friendly, you are certain to learn a lot whilst enjoying every second of the walking safari with these guides.
Though Beho Beho offers other types of safari, the walking safari offered is by far one of the best ways to see the natural world around the camp and to see for yourself why Selous is regarded as one of the best Tanzania safari destinations.
Lake Manze Tented Camp, Selous
On the shores of Lake Manze, the Lake Manze Tented Camp in Selous is only a twenty minute drive from the Siwandu airstrip and offers a rustic safari camping experience. The camp’s location borders a well-used elephant track that runs along the whole camp. Rather than offering a luxurious camping experience, the style of this camp is much more in keeping with an authentic safari experience.
Though the Lake Manze Tented Camp offers some excellent boat safaris and fishing experiences, the walking safaris that are run to explore the bush are well worth taking advantage of. You will feel like explorers trekking in search of secrets and treasures hidden in the heart of deepest darkest Africa as your guide leads you through the Doum palm and Terminalia trees to see the wide range of game that calls the Selous home.
Situated on the sandy shore of Lake Tanganyika, Greystoke offers a walking Tanzania safari experience that no other camp in any of the national parks can rival – trekking up the Mahale Mountains to see Chimpanzees. Though you might associate Gombe Stream with chimpanzees as the place with Jane Goodall did her research, there are far more to be seen in the Mahale Mountains, along with other game.
Not only is Greystoke the best place to visit on the southern and western circuits when it comes to trekking to see chimpanzees, it is arguably the best chimpanzee trek in Africa. There are also jungle tracks that you can explore on foot with the aid of a guide that will let you see some of the other game that inhabits the Mahale Mountains National Park.
Chada Camp, Katavi
Katavi is notoriously difficult and expensive to visit, but when it comes to a truly authentic experience of one of the last wilderness areas left in Africa, Katavi cannot be equalled. The Chada Camp experience is often includes a stay at the Greystoke Camp in Mahale.
With a plethora of game such as huge elephant herds and buffalo that often wander close to the spread out camp that sits under a canopy of trees, there are also leopards and lions to be seen when exploring the park. As the Chada Camp is set in a wilderness area, walking safaris are possible, it is best to ask at the time of booking about arranging one rather than waiting until you arrive at the camp and try to organise one.