There is no better way to experience Africa’s wilderness areas than by being on foot. Unlike being on a game drive, walking is a fully immersive experience, able to offer a completely new way of understanding the surroundings. As the senses are awakened, the bush becomes more ‘real’, every sound and sight attended to. The rustling of some shrubs being pushed aside might be elephant lumbering through the thicket. Birds flying up from the trees might mean a predator is about. The imagination takes flight when on foot. Furthermore, coming face to face with wildlife in their natural territory can be far more rewarding than spectating from a vehicle – few things are as humbling as meeting a wild elephant on foot, or as fascinating as watching ants cooperate in their daily tasks.
Most people talk of a new appreciation for the surroundings. After all, experiencing the smells and sounds as our ancestors have done can be a profoundly moving experience. Even more so when guided by experts. Here, the PEACE team is accompanied by a guide who can decipher animal tracks, name plants, understand scat (animal droppings), and signs of animal behaviour. He can find and point out some of the smaller wildlife like these ants, that cannot be so easily spotted from a game vehicle.
Understanding the natural environment, reading the landscape and tracking wildlife requires immense intellectual as well as creative ability. The essential skills the guides have are invaluable to eco-tourism, wildlife protection, animal monitoring and habituation programmes, all essential for work Peace Parks Foundation and partners are doing to build a better Africa for wildlife and humankind.
The PEACE – Peace Parks Exclusive African Conservation Experiences – mission aims to extend understanding of the vast challenges faced by landscape, wildlife and communities in southern Africa. In doing so it hopes to keep conservation efforts enthused with urgency, empathy and compassion.