Zimbabwe, wedged between Botswana and Mozambique, is a dream destination for walking safaris. Why is that you may ask? Well, Zimbabwe has dreamy landscapes (desert, bushland, rolling mountains), a tradition of guiding and fantastic wildlife with tourists guaranteed to see the Big Five.
Feel the sun on your face, hear the stones crunch under your feet, and the rustling reeds and chirping birds and step into nature to truly experience her power.
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Here is a list of the top walking safaris in Zimbabwe that’ll put you right back in touch with nature. But first, pick the right area!
Where in Zimbabwe should I go on walking safari?
Zimbabwe has many national parks and green areas, which are dotted around the country for nature lovers (see map below).
Victoria Falls is the most visited part of Zimbabwe and home to the Victoria Falls Airport where all international guests arrive, and showcases the mighty Victoria Falls and the quaint town of the same name. It’s here that you can join the Victoria Falls Anti-Poaching Unit.
But to truly step out into the wilderness for a walk that makes a difference, you’ll need to leave people behind.
A green patch near Bulawayo, Matobo Hills or Matobo, covers an area of 420km². “Matopo Hills is a breath-taking backdrop filled with amazing creatures. Our two guides have a wealth of knowledge of the bush and the Matobo history,” says David Waddy who runs Big Camp Cave.
Close to the Kalahari, the Hwange National Park is drier than the rest of Zimbabwe and very sandy. Mana Pools, snuggled in the north of Zimbabwe, is unique as it’s a region of the lower Zambezi River where the flood plain turns into an expanse of lakes after each rainy season.
Choose the right type of walking safari. Walking safaris are not just about seeing bugs, animal droppings and paw prints; exciting and adrenalin-pumping walking tours are on offer too.
If you’re looking for a walking safari that lasts a couple of days, Natureways specialises in photographic and walk in the Mana Pools wilderness area. They offer a four-day walking safari that begins near the Ruckomechi River and Zambezi River and continues along the Mana Pools shoreline to Illala Camp across from Chikwenya Island.
Walking safaris with rhino in Matobo are run by Big Cave Camp. Waddy says: “Our walking experience only takes place with a limited number of guests to view white rhinos up-close on foot. Guests spend a large amount of time observing these rare species in their natural surroundings.”
But it’s also possible to do a walking patrol with the anti-poaching unit.
In the south of Zimbabwe, Camp Amalinda offers historical walks in the impressive Matobo Hills with more than 2000 San rock art sites. “They hold spiritual significance with their reflection of bygone rituals. Guests will leave with the knowledge of the trials and tribulations of early man,” says owner Sharon Stead.
The camp also offers walking safaris with black and white rhino in the Matobo National Park. “The most unforgettable safari experience is approaching these magnificent, endangered species in their natural environment,” says Stead.
Remember, you’ll have a top guide.
Guiding is passed down as a tradition from one generation to the next. The tourism industry in Zimbabwe values its educated, trained and professional guides.
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“I believe that Zimbabwean guides are some of the best trained and knowledgeable guides in Africa. The apprenticeship that is required is not replicated anywhere else in Africa. The overall literacy of Zimbabwean guides means that guests can expect clear, enthusiastic and concise communication, to give an overall high quality experience,” says Waddy.
Guides at Elephant’s Eye Hwange offer walks that show the best of the Hwange National Park. “We get great feedback from guests at Elephant’s Eye. The guides are friendly and well-trained, especially when it comes to their country and wildlife,” says Mariska Yntema from Jenman African Safaris.