Lead Grow Develop

A Guide to Safaris and Hiking in Africa 

For nature lovers forever in awe of stunning vistas, vast plains, and the sight of magnificent animals at home, there can be no better place for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation, or romantic honeymoon, than on safari in Africa. Think of the iconic Kilimanjaro, acacia, and baobab trees, the giraffes and elephants looming above lush foliage, each day ending with a magnificent sunset and a bush dinner.

Now imagine the immediacy of an African safari on foot. Before, a safari was more of a big-game hunt, driving through the bush in open jeeps. But today, it’s more about viewing and photographing wildlife. A hiking safari will take you off the well-traveled roads and onto trails where you can experience the wild quietly and unobtrusively. Trails with vantage points where you can observe and appreciate animals in their natural habitat, and only in Africa.

So if you’re seeking something extraordinary, a vacation, or a romantic honeymoon, consider hiking an African safari. We’ve listed our best tips and suggestions to enhance your African safari and hiking adventure.

Where to Go on Safari

There are two popular safari-friendly regional destinations in Africa. Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda comprise the East African community, while the Southern African community includes Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, South Africa, Malawi, Namibia, and Mozambique.

Both regions offer advantages and disadvantages; ultimately, choosing between them depends on your preferences. In the south, the lodges run the safaris, organizing drives out into the bush a few times a day. In the east, however, safaris move across a region, setting up camp each evening, following the animals.

Fencing provides a major distinction between the two regions. Electric fencing protects much of the southern African safari regions, which works well with how the lodge operators run circular loops within the vicinity of the lodge. Countries in the eastern African region, however, don’t allow fencing. Given the migratory movement pattern of millions of animals through Tanzania and Kenya, fencing would be impractical and disruptive to wildlife.

Visitors to both regions can expect to see all the Big Five animals (lions, elephants, buffalos, rhinos, and leopards), but they’ll see far more of them and many other species, too, in the eastern region. And if experiencing wildlife, and lots of it, is your honeymoon safari or bucket-list family vacation dream, the Serengeti National Park in north-central Tanzania and the Maasai Mara Reserve across the Kenyan border is like nowhere else on Earth.

Visitors to these parks will witness over two million animals on the move as they follow their annual migration routes across Tanzania in an endless search for fresh grass and water. Hundreds of thousands of wildebeest, zebras, and antelopes will head north, crossing the Mara River into Kenya, while vast numbers circle northwest for the Grumeti River crossing. With lions and huge crocodiles lying in wait, the stampede across the Grumeti and the Mara rivers is a dramatic spectacle not for the faint of heart!

Good Reasons to Hike the African Bush

It is safe to assume that if you’re planning an African safari for your honeymoon or family vacation, you are passionate about nature–its beauty and its wildlife. On safari, you will witness firsthand what you’ve only read about or seen in documentaries, enhancing your appreciation and offering new insights into the African bush.

Flora and fauna, many rare and thriving only in Africa, are a vivid reminder that we share this planet and of our desire to find a balance between nature and human encroachment. Nothing brings this truth home like getting up close to the animals, observing their interactions and ways, and experiencing a new awareness of the need to protect Africa’s wildlife and habitats.

Hiking safaris are increasingly popular, with a much-reduced impact on the environment than safaris by jeep. Visitors are limiting exhaust pollution, annoying noise (to both humans and wildlife), and harm to vegetation. And for many people, what sets hiking a notch above is the ability to access places where vehicles cannot go. Fewer people mean a chance to explore with fewer distractions. Just you in nature, strolling among giant trees, wooded hills, or vast open spaces, walking ancient trails where elephants have lumbered along for centuries.

Where to Hike in Africa?

While the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro is one of Africa’s most popular hiking destinations, the African continent is rich in trekking choices for the active traveler. Each destination offers its own distinctive beauty, abundant wildlife, and degree of difficulty.

Hiking in the game reserves may sound scary, but it can be a lot of fun. Arusha National Park in northern Tanzania is a great place to take the Mount Meru Waterfall Loop. At just over five miles, this moderate hike to Mount Meru Waterfall offers hikers a great view of both Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro in the distance. It’s a lovely walk for birdwatchers and those hoping for more of a walk on the quiet side. And if you’re planning to summit on Meru or Kilimanjaro, this loop will give you the warm-up you need.

Another game reserve destination for hiking is Tanga, in northeastern Tanzania, with easy, moderate, and difficult climbing trails. Hike the Amani Nature Reserve, Magamba Nature Reserve, and Magoroto Forest Estate to explore breathtaking nature trails. Known for its biodiversity, enjoy the chance to birdwatch and photograph the unique flora and fauna of the East Usambara Mountains.

Mount Meru and Mount Kilimanjaro are hiking safari adventures all their own, but there are quieter, more meandering safaris, like walking the trails in Mahale Mountain National Park. Accessible only by boat, there is no motorized transport within the park, and the park is never crowded. Bordering the eastern shore of Lake Tanganyika, the park is home to the world’s oldest and largest population of chimps. Even with just a few days’ stay, hikers will easily spot them. And the rainy season, from November through April, is the time for sighting butterflies and multiple species of birds, all home for the winter. Lush mountain rises enclose the park, home to one of Africa’s most pristine wilderness areas.

Final Thoughts

A hiking safari differs dramatically from your typical game drive experience. Moving through the bush, across rivers, and up and around hills on foot, measuring time by the sun’s movement across the sky, promises a rare sense of freedom and connection.

You’ll engage with the environment, immersing yourself in the sights and sounds of nature—instead of the growl of a diesel engine drowning out the subtleties of the African bush. Few experiences on Earth can rival a hiking safari in Africa. Whether enjoying your honeymoon or dream vacation, nature, at its finest and most spectacular, will take your breath away.

Exit mobile version