Wildlife tracking on foot map and highlights

Africa is the obvious place for a classic safari vacation, but in countries such as South Africa and Botswana you will usually get around by jeep or even boat, with occasional short walking safaris perhaps led by San Bushmen or Maasai tribespeople. In other parts of the world you might be tracking a specific animal: snow leopards in India or Tajikistan for instance, red pandas in the Nepalese Himalayas, wolves in France and Sweden, and trek for much longer durations, taking to vehicles or horseback only when conditions demand it. In every instance, however, wildlife tracking on foot allows for a deeper connection with the landscape and a greater understanding of the connectivity of different habitats than you would get by simply driving through.
Wildlife tracking on foot, whether you’re in the snowy Himalayan foothills or the plains of Africa, is an opportunity to use all of your senses and discover elements of the natural world that are all too easy to miss from a vehicle
Central Asia

1. Central Asia

Of around 9,000 snow leopards in the wild, many are found in the Ala Too and Pamir ranges of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Expert rangers track the leopards beforehand to optimise your chances of sightings and you’ll work with local conservationists to track these mysterious creatures along with wolves, ibex and Marco Polo sheep, setting camera traps, sleeping in mountain lodges, and taking to horseback in deep snow.

2. France

The elusive wolf and lynx are both staging a comeback in the French Alps, and can often be seen with the assistance of expert trackers and high mountain guides. Generally the trekking is quite easygoing but snowshoes and poles can be required at times. Staying in a winter refuge, you may also encounter chamois, mouflon, wild boar and deer in these beautiful landscapes.

3. India

Rare snow leopards inhabit remote regions such as the valleys of Hemis National Park in India’s Ladakh region. The acclaimed tours here last between 12 and 17 days as you need time to acclimatise before heading out with local guides and spotters armed with scopes and binoculars. Due to the cold (November to March is the best time, when the leopards come low to feed) and the altitude, the minimum age is usually 18.

4. Kenya

Walk with a knowledgeable Maasai guide, able to identify animal footprints (and different types of dung!) for a closer look at the interlinked ecosystems that make up the great Mara savannah. The Naboisho Conservancy is community-owned and a fantastic place for a walking safari and to discover Maasai traditions, while you can also visit a guiding school to learn how the Maasai develop their skills.
Namibia & Botswana

5. Namibia & Botswana

They are two of the great African destinations for a classic safari experience, but Botswana and Namibia also make perfect places to head out on foot. In Botswana you might walk with San Bushmen to discover tribal desert survival skills, and ancient rock art, while in Namibia a trek along a dry river bed can conjure up memorable sightings of desert elephants.

6. Nepal

Search for endangered red pandas in the Himalayan foothills, an increase in the population here having made encounters much more likely. Trips support vital habitat protection initiatives, and are led by local guides, with spotlights and thermal imaging used where possible. Trekking is at altitude but not especially strenuous. Avoid the hot summer and monsoon season for your best chances of success.

7. Sweden

Bergslagen Forest, west of Stockholm, is a haven for beavers, wolves and moose along with rarely sighted lynxes. Wildlife tracking tours here are ideal for younger nature enthusiasts, with gentle walks suitable for kids aged eight and over. You’ll follow hoof prints, droppings and bite marks on trees to locate the animals, and the certain highlight is a night in a tented camp to hear wolves howling around you.
South Africa

8. South Africa

As with elsewhere in Africa, most South Africa safaris involve the standard morning and afternoon game drives by 4x4 vehicle. However there are many reserves where anyone over 14 can take a short, guided trek in search of iconic wildlife and many species of bird. Expect to be on the trail for up to four hours, and for it to be one of the most magical days of your entire safari vacation.

9. Tanzania

In Tanzania you can track wildlife on foot in one of the great wonders of the natural world: the vast Ngorongoro Crater, 12 miles across. The crater acts as a form of natural enclosure, and the animal population doesn’t join the Serengeti migration. You might see lions, black rhinos, gazelles, wildebeest and zebras – though from a distance of course, as well as learning about Maasai farming lifestyles in the crater.

10. Zambia

South Luangwa National Park in Zambia is where the first African walking safari took place, and to explore the park on foot today remains a magical experience, with populations of elephants, giraffes, lions and the opportunity for some superb leopard-watching. Stay in remote camp not accessible by vehicle, before continuing on to the neighbouring North Luangwa National Park where you can see hartebeest, reedbuck and eland.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Wildlife tracking on foot or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.
Written by Rob Perkins
Photo credits: [Page banner: Pascal Mauerhofer] [Central Asia: Ksuryawanshi] [France: Daniel Jolivet] [India : Jammu & Kashmir Wildlife Protection Department] [Kenya: Make it Kenya] [Namibia & Botswana: David Siu] [Nepal: Ales Krivec] [Sweden: Robert Anders] [South Africa: Chris Eason] [Tanzania: Ikiwaner] [Zambia: tjabeljan]