To get as close to nature as possible, a walking safari is not to be missed. Escape the modern world completely and immerse yourself in pure wilderness and get a taste of safari and adventure the way it used to be done “old style”.
A truly educational experience and a sensory overload awaits you as you carefully trek through the bush and get a sense of how our ancestors used to get about, a feeling very few people in this day and age can achieve. On your hike you are accompanied by an armed ranger, just in case you meet an elephant, buffalo or even a leopard.
As mentioned before there are no lions in Arusha park, because of the altitude and also the bush is very dense here, far from ideal lion country. Of course, the ranger is there as a guide primarily, and only in case of emergency will his firearm be required. Please just remember: Don’t move away from the ranger; walk close to him at all times and listen to what he tells you.
You’ll realize it is a very special feeling, to be right among the animals without the iron sheets of a safari vehicle between you and your natural surroundings. Although you encounter wildlife frequently, wilderness is the goal. By adjusting the length and pace of the walk to your own pace, the emphasis can be on taking it slowly and having time to smell trees and flowers, not simply hiking for hiking’s sake. In the lower areas, giraffes pass by majestically, you might hear an elephant trumpet or baboons bark while you walk by.
Soon you reach Ngare Nanyuki River, which you cross together with your ranger over a small bridge. Then you make your way through an area of rich open glades in which you see buffalos and giraffes again and sometimes a few crowned cranes or saddle-billed storks. After this stretch you climb a track into the mountain forest. The mountain forest is clear of low lying vegetation and is a good place for you to spot black-fronted duiker and bushbuck. Both are shy antelope but a walking safari through the forest gives you the best chance to view them.
This is followed by an idyllic stroll through lush rainforest on the eastern slopes of the extinct volcano. If you peer into the dense rainforest, you might be able to spot the silvery-cheeked hornbill and the already mentioned Hartlaub’s turaco; this is an extremely beautiful bird, its crimson wings flash through the dense lianas like a scarlet flame.
You can also identify numerous yellowwoods (Podocarpus milanijanus) coated with the old man‟s beard lichen (Usnea sp.). This is a symbiotic combination of algae and fungus in such intimate association that they are classified as a distinct species.
Further up your track passes right through a “tunnel tree” – a giant strangler fig that arches over the road. Strangler figs get their start from seeds deposited in bird droppings among the leafy detritus that collects in the nooks and crannies of large trees. The fig grows in both directions: it sends roots toward the ground, wrapping woody bonds around the trunk of the host tree, while its foliage grows up toward the light. Eventually, the fig can get large enough to block the life-giving sun from its host. In the case of the Fig Tree Arch, two trees died to support the giant parasite. The curtain of aerial roots through which you walk is kept open by the browsing of elephants.
Exiting the rainforest you reach clearings from where you can enjoy beautiful views over the Momella Lakes and the plains beyond. Also Mt. Kilimanjaro presents itself from these viewpoints in its full beauty, the perfect African backdrop on your walking safari; of course the view is dependent on the weather and the cloud cover. Just sit down for a while, relax and enjoy the silence, listen to the sounds of nature and forget the loud and hectic activities of our civilized world.
Walking in the forest is pleasant and there is no better way to appreciate its subtle beauty. Carpets of purple balsam flowers (Impatiens papilionacea) grow on the shady forest floor, along with delicate violets. Black-eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata) also occurs, in small clumps by the track, the dark centers of its glowing orange flowers giving the plant its common name. The bright red blooms of fireball lilies (Scadoxus multiflorus) are most conspicuous after the rains.
Walking also makes it easier to spot colobus monkeys again. They’ll offer you quite a memorable sight when jumping and swinging over long distances through the forest canopy, waving their black and white extremely long furry tails. Their calls, which you might hear, are a guttural roar, which is rapidly repeated in chorus. You’ll also observe some more forest birds such as Narina’s trogan and the red-fronted parrot.
As your walking safari comes to an end, your driver is waiting for you at the start point of your walk.