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Published: August 6th 2012
Can you imagine stepping out of a safari truck and walking in the African bush just after having spotted a leopard with her two cubs? That's just what we did!
The leopard is known to the safari guides as Alice. She has two cubs and is quite habituated to humans and safari trucks. We saw Alice and her two cubs as we entered the park. What a welcome to the park.
Then it was time to park the truck and proceed on foot with our guide Riva and gun carrying scout Luka. We asked the scout what's the last time he used the gun, and he couldn't remember. Yes, a scout is required for a walking safari, and the lack of a scout meant we couldn't go on a walking safari yesterday ... But, it is reassuring to know that the scout is just insurance and isn't often called upon to use the gun he carries.
We're glad we did the walking safari. It's so different what you see on foot vs. in a safari truck. In the truck you're racing around usually looking for the big cats. On foot, it's much more sedate. You get to know
the footprints of each animal along with the different animal spoor (poo). We learnt how to tell Impala poo from Puku poo ... hippo prints from elephant prints ... Lions paw prints from hyena paw prints, etc. Things you don't notice when in a safari vehicle.
We also got real close to the grazers, such as zebra, giraffe, puku and impala. We were no more than perhaps 5m from some of these animals, and they were not spooked by our presence. They were well aware we were there, and were prepared to flee, but most chose to stay and keep grazing. A couple of young giraffe chose to run away, and their mother eventually went after them.
We didn't come across any lions or leopard cubs hidden under bushes. But, we got to study termite mounds close up, taste wild tamarind and ebony fruit and have a whole different interaction and understanding of the flora and fauna.
Travel recommendation: Get a good guide and go on a walking safari. It's a whole lot different than a vehicle safari.
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