Kruger National Park
Kruger National Park is one of the largest game reserves in the continent, and undeniably the most famous in South Africa. Located in the northeast of the country, Kruger showcases the sheer abundance and diversity of African wildlife. All of the Big Five call the reserve home, as well as hundreds of mammal and bird species. For a change of pace from the typical four-wheel game drive, choose a bush walk around Kruger’s grassy plains. Accompany trackers by foot on the trail of wildlife, learning about the flora and fauna of the region as you go. For the intrepid, wilderness trails at Kruger put you in the heart of the untamed veld, giving you an authentic experience camping in the bush and sleeping beneath the stars.
When to go:
The ideal time for a walking safari in Kruger is May and September. This is during the dry season, when thirsty animals gather around waterholes in plain sight. Little rain and milder temperatures make for a more comfortable experience. If you’re a keen bird watcher, however, you may want to book between October and April instead.
Sabi Sands Game Reserve
Sabi Sands Game Reserve lies adjacent to Kruger National Park and boasts the same diversity of wildlife. You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to walking safaris here. Follow animal tracks alongside a tracker team for a chance to spot the leopard Sabi Sands is known for. Head out on a bush walk with an armed ranger to get close to the reserve’s game. Learn about the native flora in this region of Mpumalanga during a three-hour nature walk. Once the sun slips behind the hills, you can even glimpse nocturnal wildlife on a night-time safari walk. Sabi Sands features a range of accommodation options, including luxury safari lodges such as Dulini and Savanna.
When to go:
The best time to visit is during the dry season, between May and September. May is particularly good, as it’s low season so less busy, temperatures are mild and there’s little rainfall. Animals gather around waterholes during this time, improving your chance of spotting wildlife on your walking safari.
Marakele National Park
The Marakele National Park is a malaria-free reserve in the midst of the Waterberg Mountains featuring an abundance of trails to wander. Spot game as you wind along the bushveld, over rocky streams and through mountain passes. Birders will be drawn by the 800 pairs of Cape vulture that breed here, as well as the array of other species from bee-eaters and sunbirds to harrier hawks and African eagles. For accommodation geared towards the on-foot explorer, stay at Marataba Trails, a luxury eco-lodge perched on the mountainside.
When to go:
The summers are hot and humid here, with occasional rain and thunderstorms. Birders willing to brave the muggy weather will be rewarded with sightings of migratory bird species between October and April. Otherwise, the most comfortable time for your walking safari in Marakele is between May and September during the dry season (though pack warm clothing as mornings and evenings can get chilly).