Five Active African Getaways for Travelers Looking to Explore on Foot

Hikers pause to observe a group of zebra on a hiking tour of the Serengeti National Park.

Why take a traditional vacation to Africa when you can discover your destination by walking and hiking? There are several new options in many African countries for travelers interested in an active trip. Even better, most are available any time of the year and don’t require physical training.

Mark Thornton Safaris offers four- to 10-day private walking wildlife excursions in Serengeti National Park. Visitors stay in environmentally sensitive mobile camps and penetrate deep into roadless parts of the park, areas replete with wildlife. Expect to see lions, leopards, elephants and buffalo, and don’t worry, your guides are armed and trained to protect guests (and to avoid harming wildlife) in case anything goes wrong. The amount of time you walk daily is tailored to your specific needs and can vary from between two to eight hours.

The company’s owner, Mark Thornton, said that walking to see big game is a thrill-filled experience. “There’s nothing like encountering animals by foot,” he said. “Your senses are engaged in a completely different way than the usual game drive safari.” Bookings begin at$800 a person a day and include accommodations, meals, activities and transportation around the park.

Another multiday hiking option is the three- to five-day private hikes from Tour Dust of the Simien Mountains in Simien National Park, Ethiopia, a Unesco World Heritage site. Hikers can expect to see large troops of baboons and the rare walia ibex, famous for its long curved horns. Although each itinerary is customized, the trail follows the course of the mountain ridge and has dramatic views of the surrounding area. Accommodations are in tents, and all trips are accompanied by a guide, a cook and a scout. Tickets start at $530 a person.

It’s possible to skip the usual cable-car ride up Table Mountain in Cape Town and hike to the top instead. Hike Addicts offers more than a half-dozen different guided treks, including the “India Venster,” a challenging but rewarding three-hour route over steep terrain. Itstarts off on the mountain’s northern slopes and takes hikers through dramatic rock formations, with views of the Atlantic coast along the way. Hiking below massive sandstone cliffs to the summit is the grand finale. Prices start at $65 a person.

For travelers who only want to be moderately active forpart of their trip, the nine-day Kenya Camping Safari from G Adventures includes some light walking and hiking, along with traditional drives to spot wildlife. Travelers explore the Masai Mara National Reserve, the Samburu National Reserve and Lake Nakuru National Park and spend nights in campsites. Prices start at $2,000 a person, and include accommodations, most meals and transfers.

Backroads has a new five-night walking and hiking tour of Morocco: Travelers take guided walks in Marrakesh to see popular attractions, including the Jemaa el-Fna, and explore the whitewashed port town of Essaouira. Visitors also hike to rustic villages in the High Atlas Mountains and trek through the Imlil Valley. Bookings start at $4,200 a person, but include accommodations, activities, transportation and even snacks. Book in the spring or summer; the tours begin in September and October.

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