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A Safari on foot – a unique way to experience the savannah

Published on 31 July 2018

In Tanzania, Kichaka Expeditions organizes luxurious, environmentally-friendly walking safaris. Your authentic memory-making experience starts here.

 

With his rifle dangling from his shoulder, our guide makes a signal with his hand. There’s movement in the thicket beyond the river we’ve been following, so we stand like statues, hearts racing, waiting to see what will emerge: The crunching of sticks, the rustling of leaves—an enormous male elephant appears with sparking tusks, gigantic ears and a long trunk that lashes the air in our direction. We’ve rarely seen a more majestic sight. The encounter lasts just a few seconds, but we’ll remember this moment for the rest of our lives.

This sort of chance meeting is par for the course in Ruaha: Tanzania’s biggest national park (13.000 km2)—which takes its name from the Great Ruaha River—is famous for its elephant herds, with more than 10,000 pachyderms coming to the food-rich valley every dry season. But while most tour operators offer safari tours in 4x4s, Kichaka Expeditions offer a more natural and less intrusive form of locomotion, walking.

The 3-, 5- and 7-day safaris are organised according to the traces identified by the guides: An elephant footprint here, the marks of a pride of lions there; once it’s likely that the animals can be tracked, it’s time to set off. For the first few kilometres, you’re on edge, like a fish out of water, jumping at the slightest noise, but after a while you’re absorbed, sniffing the air for animal smells, your eyes sweeping the ground for the tiniest of traces. By the end of the day, you’re exhausted, but utterly smitten.

Roaring with pleasure under the stars

Sitting with our feet in the cool river water, we sip an aperitif, watching the sky turn from fiery orange to pink to deep blue. A table has been set up by a wood-log fire, and we talk about what we’ve seen during the day—the marabou stork on the river bank, the baby elephant holding his mother’s tail, the crocodile on the beach… Before we know it, night has fallen and the moon has risen on the horizon. An enormous telescope is brought out for an evening of stargazing undisturbed by light pollution. Even from beneath our tents’ mosquito nets, we can see the stars.

As we settle down for the night, a lion roars in the distance, hippos come out of the river to eat on dry land; night time in the savannah is anything but silent. “Wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit,” said American writer Edward Abbey. Kichaka Expeditions is living proof that he’s right.