Walking safaris in South Africa’s Kruger National Park
While Zambia is thought of as the home of the walking safari, South Africa, and the Kruger region in particular, also offers a variety of walking options from small tented camps in private areas. What’s more, they are relatively easy to reach, are great value, and can often be taken privately with just four people. This enormous area – similar in size to Wales – has some of the best wildlife habitat in southern Africa and, thanks to high quality guiding, guests have an excellent chance of seeing plenty of species. Combine two or three of these options over a week or more and you enjoy great scenery and very good wildlife viewing. Starting in the south of the park……
Rhino walking safaris at Rhino Plains Camp
Rhino walking safaris take place on a 12,000 hectare private wilderness concession in southern Kruger NP. The camp is small, with just four large safari tents on decks shaded by knob-thorn trees. The tents have en-suite bathrooms and shaded verandahs, and the atmosphere is very much that of an authentic traditional safari. This is a comfortable camp too, with a pool, and a large mess tent with a lounge and bar as well as a dining room. Another fun aspect here are the four sleepout decks, which feature a mosquito net canopy over an open air bed. They can be booked for a night during a stay at Rhino Plains.
The walking safaris here leave camp early each morning, looking for lion, elephant, buffalo and of course rhino, both black and white. Guests return for a late breakfast or brunch, and head out again later in the afternoon for a shorter walk. Because this is such a prolific area for wildlife, there is often plenty to see while resting in camp after brunch.
Tanda Tula Field Camp
Tanda Tula Safari Camp has long been an Aardvark Safaris’ favourite. Partly because of its wonderfully peaceful and wild location in Timbavati Private Nature Reserve (which shares an unfenced border with Kruger NP), partly because the wildlife viewing is so good, but mostly because of the authenticity of the camp, its incredible people and the atmosphere they create.
Tanda Tula Safari Camp has a little brother, Tanda Tula Field Camp, which is located in a private concession within Timbavati, where it is the only safari operation permitted. This gorgeous camp has just four simple ‘explorer’ style tents with open air en-suite bathrooms, and the whole experience is one of pared back elegance and traditional safari style, with drinks around the campfire and meals cooked in the open and eaten outside as often as possible. The camp is booked exclusively, which makes it ideal for families or a group of friends.
Walking is the primary activity here as well, and the wildlife population in the vicinity is excellent, as is the birdlife. Walks usually leave and return to the camp, but there is also the option of walking out further and being collected in a safari vehicle to return to camp for brunch or lunch. Wildlife drives are offered as an option, and since this is a private camp all guests do the same activity.
Pafuri Walking Trails
The Makuleke Community Concession is 24,000 hectares of remote wilderness in the very far northern corner of the Kruger National Park. Bordering Zimbabwe and Mozambique, it’s one of the least visited corners of South Africa. Pafuri Walking Trails is a lovely simple seasonal mobile camp with four mini-Meru tents, open air en-suite bathrooms with a bucket shower. The camp has an open sided dining tent and a camp fire with chairs around it for enjoying drinks and stories at the end of the day.
The camp can be positioned anywhere in the concession which suits the wildlife populations, or the interests of guests, and there is so much space that there is never a worry of seeing visitors staying at Walking Trails’ sister property, Pafuri Camp. The concession has probably the most varied landscapes and habitats in the Kruger, ranging from rugged hills near Lanner Gorge in the west through acacia woodland and stands of baobabs to fever tree forests on the floodplains of the Luvuvhu River. Walks can be as long as guests wish, and the highlights of the area include seeing elephant, buffalo, lion and leopard on foot, dipping your feet in the Luvuvhu River, visiting Crook’s Corner where three countries meet, and some superb bird viewing too.
If you would like further ideas for walking safaris either in South Africa or elsewhere across the continent we would be delighted to help. Email is probably the best way to contact us right now and we’ll respond as quickly as we can – usually on the same day. We very much look forward to talking to you.