In our wilderness areas, wild animals do not associate vehicles with death and stress, yet as soon as we are on foot the rules of the game are suddenly different and we are unable to enjoy the close encounters we do in the safety of our vehicles. We upright and two legged creatures have exploited and threatened animals for thousands of years, yet animals such as baboons-our closest resembling relative in Southern Africa- are able to casually strole to the feet of an elephant bull as he quenches his thirst at a water hole, and enjoy the cool water at his side along with Impala, an array of bird speceis and Hippo alike.
There is nothing like walking through the untamed African bush to have a closer look at the beautiful plant life, insects and birds surrounding you. Bumping in to a herd of bufallo or a pride of lions is not only a bonus on a walk but also a humbling experiencing which reminds us of how small we are and where we fit in to this vast and great world of ours. I could not explain the experience in any better words than that of Garth Thompson, author of “A Guide’s Guide to Guiding”.
“There are so many joys to be had when on a walk in a wild area. These include those of walking on a well used game trail, the smell of dried dung, plants and flowers, a chorus of birdsong, uninterrupted by vehicle noise, the opportunity to hear the wind move through the trees and rustle their leaves, to feel your skin glow from the warm sun of an early morning, to gauge your direction from the prevailing wind as the hairs on your arms, legs and head quiver in its wake. To feel the gradient of the land from your aching legs, heaving lungs and throbbing heart and to enjoy the health of your body as you feel ancient instincts awaken.
While walking you become a participant in the environment and not a spectator from a game viewing hatch of a mobile metal tomb. You learn to appreciate the taste of warm water from a bottle which has enjoyed the rhythm of your swinging hips, to bend and weave your way through the thick vegetation of the bush, to feel the adrenalin burst and rush around your body as an old male buffalo stands up unexpectedly from a deep slumber under a thick bush, while giving you a hungover, antagonistic glare. To watch a lioness’ tail whip from side to side as she emits a series of threatening, deep throated growls, while her cubs scamper around oblivious to your presence, to feel the pain in your neck as you crane it skyward to identify a distant raptor floating high on the thermal. You enjoy the touch of an old rubbing post, the wood and grain of which have been sculptured by years of fire and fine-grained sanding from the sides of numerous elephants, rhino, buffalo and warthog. You learn to sit beneath the canopy of a mahogany, using its broad trunk as a backrest while being seduced by the bush beneath the cool, deep shade that this evergreen tree offers to all who seek its shelter and comfort.” – Garth Thompson
At least one walking safari is a must on a trip to the African bush; to feel connected to the earth which sustains us and generations of human life preceeding our existence. Zululand Walking Safaris based at Leopard Mountain Game Lodge offers this unique experience. What better way to end off a trip to untamed Africa than with a walking safari finished off with a one of a kind African meal and a glass of one of South Africa’s finest wines.