Bush Escape – On foot with the Big and Hairies

When most people dream about a safari they picture a rough and rugged Landrover, open and exposed to the elements rumbling along well-worn dirt tracks in search of the bush residents that are what the journey to Africa has all been about. A safari is an opportunity to escape reality and its daily pressures and to step into a world of wonder. The safari lifestyle naturally eases you out of “city life” mode and helps you to get back in sync with nature, and nothing does that more effectively than stepping out for a safari on foot.

Buffalo, Safari, BIg fiveLion, Safari, Big Five

Some of the special residents that guests come from far and wide to see!

At Garonga we have an ethos of a safari for the soul. A visit to us should not just be about exciting things to see, you should leave a stay at Garonga feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, revitalised and so we invite you to step down from the game viewer and experience the wild on foot. Those of you who have met me before (either in real life or through my blogs) will be unsurprised that I will immediately begin by talking about elephants. Elephants are remarkable animals for a huge number of reasons but one thing that never fails to impress guests in a sighting with them is how quietly these giants move through the bush. Nothing puts this in as much perspective as walking in the bush yourself.

Gentle Giants on the move – despite their size they move virtually silently along the pathways of the bush ©Sophie Barrett

A walking safari is usually a very peaceful experience, your awareness that you are moving around on foot in an area that is home to the Big Five heightens your senses; and the scents and sounds of the bush come into sharper focus. One inescapable truth is that we are not quiet creatures. Even trying to move unobtrusively through the bush it is incredible how much noise we actually make and your mind inevitably drifts back to the sightings that you have had with nature’s gentle giants and their stealth becomes even more impressive.

Nothing compares to the magic of being on foot in the bush

Being on foot in the bush you are liberated from the network of dirt roads that present your usual perspective of the wild and as you start to move along game trails you become immersed in the secret world of the denizens of the bush. It is hard to cover much ground when you are on a walking safari because every step you take reveals something new and fascinating about the world around you. Inevitably you are drawn into the world of track and sign as your curiosity is paired with disbelief at the spaces that elephants and rhinos can squeeze themselves through. As the morning goes on you start to synchronise with the rhythms of the world around you and before long you are spotting for yourself flecks of dried mud on the leaves and branches, sometimes the only indication that one of nature’s giants has passed by.

Single file is the only way to rock life in the bush, whether you are a social animal or a solitary one, a big animal or small, it is by far and away easiest to follow in others’ footsteps (or vehicle tracks)! ©Sophie Barrett

On one of our informative walks you will be introduced to the world of track and sign, traditional medicinal uses of the local plants, you will be guided through the sounds and scents of the bush and might even have the chance to trail one of the Big Five. However, here at Garonga we love spending time on foot and we have designed 3 additional specialised walks to immerse you in the wild experience each in a different way.

There is no more humbling experience than an encounter with the Big Five on foot!

Jaff will take you on a cultural walk, focussing on sharing insights of the Shangaan culture and the different role that various trees and animals have to play; you will finish this journey through local traditions with a catapult shoot!

To truly tune into the patterns of the bush Josia can take you on a solitude walk. Instead of stopping and talking, the walk will be conducted in silence as a way to heighten your senses even further to the world around you. You will start to notice the differing scents that are released depending on what species of grass you are walking through; each crackle of a leaf and chirp of a bird will be amplified as you shake off the cobwebs from your senses. At the end of the walk you will be given time for observation and reflection (whilst Josia keeps a close eye to make sure that everyone stays safe!) and finally you will come back together to discuss what each of you noticed on your stroll through the savannah.

Or you can choose to get in touch with your ancestors on a walk with me as we put your survival skills to the test. I will unravel the secrets of the bush and show you where you can find water, how to make fire, build tools, rope and shelter and most importantly how you can tell whether something is safe to eat (without constant snacks are you even on a safari?). We will take you back to your roots as we delve into human history and examine how the nomadic San Bushmen learnt to unlock the secrets of the bush and to exist in harmony with it.

Whatever option you choose, spending time on foot changes your perspective, you will have spent a morning sharpening your senses and being bamboozled by the small 5000, life’s pressures and stresses are forced to take a back seat and when you venture forth in your trusty Landrover once more you are filled with a fresh appreciation of exactly what it takes to survive in the wild.

Hope to see you in wild soon!

Sophie