Walking in a Lion’s Footsteps in Zambia
When thinking of an African safari one of two images generally come to mind – luxury tented camps with no expense spared or camping in small tents and eating dinner over an open fire.
On either of these options you are sure to experience wildlife sightings, generally from the back of a 4×4 safari vehicle. The 4×4 game drives do have their drawbacks though, despite sometimes being able to get close to the animals, on most of these traditional African safari holidays you must stay within your vehicle and view the animals from afar.
However, there is one type of African safari where you can literally walk in the lion’s footsteps (or hippo, elephant or zebra’s) – a walking safari.
Pioneered as a unique form of Zambia safari in the South Luangwa, a particularly stunning national park, a walking safari allows you to see the animals at their level. And it isn’t just the grazers.
Accompanied by professional guides and armed scouts, a Zambia safari in the South Luangwa is one in which you will track all of Africa’s wildlife, from the big game like lions and elephants, to the smaller, equally majestic grazers like giraffe and zebra.
Walking in a lion’s footsteps is an experience you will remember forever.
The adrenalin of knowing that perhaps just minutes before, one of nature’s Big Cats had strolled past the very spot you are standing in, with your guide pointing out the tracks and potential recent prey, is infinitely more exciting than watching these predators from a vehicle.
You may even be lucky enough to see the animals watching you from less than 50 metres away; it’s a thrilling experience no matter what wildlife you end up witnessing.
However, this is one activity you don’t want to try on your own. It’s important that the operator you choose has dedicated walking safari practices and has the safety of both you and the animals in mind.
Standard practice is to have a minimum of two staff with each group, but some camps, such as Sanctuary Zebra Plains have a minimum of three staff for every group – a class 1 walking guide (the most experienced), an armed escort scout at the front of the group, and a trainee guide at the rear to ensure that you have ‘eyes in the back of your head’.
In addition to the firearm carried by the scout, all staff carry ‘bear bangers’, similar to a pencil flair, these devices are designed to fire a small projectile about 5-10 metres, which then explodes with a loud bang scaring any animals that may come too close without harming them.
So, if you are looking for an African safari with a difference, consider a walking safari and get up close to the animals you have come to Africa to see.
**We have yet to visit southern Africa, so we thank Kerry-Anne Smith for sharing this guest post about a unique wildlife experience in Zambia!
Author Bio: This article was written by Kerry-Anne Smith of Sanctuary Retreats, who can tailor-make your Zambia safari to one of their Zambia lodges or walking safari camp, Sanctuary Zebra Plains. They also operate a number of additional African safari lodges in Kenya, Uganda, Botswana and Tanzania.