Tracking wild rhino on foot is an exhilarating experience and really gets you closer to these amazing and endangered mammals – here are some of our favourite places to see rhinos on foot.
Tracks Safaris – we get you closer to rhinos!
BORANA CONSERVANCY – LIAKIPIA – NORTHERN KENYA
Borana Conservancy is part of the Lewa/Borana Landscape set in northern Kenya and is dedicated to the sustainable conservation of land and wildlife. The holistic approach commits tourism, ranching and other enterprise to building local livelihoods and enhancing ecosystem integrity. All retained earnings from Borana Lodge and other commercial enterprises contribute towards the support of communities, wildlife, and its habitat.
One of the Lewa/Borana landscape’s objectives is to eliminate poaching – this is achieved in huge part due to the efforts of the team of 115 rangers, 13 of which are women, who work tirelessly to keep Borana Conservancy and its wildlife safe. Guests are invited
to accompany parts of this anti-poaching team on their daily activities, giving a true insight into life as a ranger.
Rhino Tracking is not your average bush walk. You can assist with conservation on Borana by joining the team of scouts who track and account for all the rhinos each morning, often encountering elephant, giraffe, and other wildlife. The team must set out on foot from various locations across Borana to see and monitor each rhino on the Conservancy. By joining them on this venture, Borana Lodge guests are given the opportunity to learn more about the ‘behind the scenes’ work that goes into the conservancy, how rangers track and identify rhino, and meet the team that keep the rhino safe.
Each evening the armed unit of the anti-poaching team is deployed to various vantage points across Borana Conservancy in order to survey and monitor the wildlife, the land and the perimeter. Guests can help by accompanying parts of the team out on these deployments – dropping them off where they will then spend the night. These rangers are out all night, every night, regardless of the weather or time of year. This gives you the opportunity to learn about the training, day to day lives of the anti-poaching team and generally spend time with the unsung heroes – the boots on the ground in conservation
PHINDA MOUNTAIN LODGE – KWAZULU NATAL – SOUTH AFRICA
Showcasing one of the Africa’s finest game viewing experiences, &BEYOND Phinda is home to Africa’s Big Five – lion, leopard, elephant, buffalo and rhino – as well as 436 bird species. The reserve is particularly well known for close-up sightings of the elegant yet elusive cheetah, as well as the rare black rhino.
With its seven distinct habitats, Phinda is a magnificent tapestry of woodland, grassland, wetland and forest, interspersed with mountain ranges, rivers, marshes and pans. Home to 1 000 hectares (2471 acres) of Africa’s remaining rare dry sand forest, the reserve is situated in close proximity to the unspoiled beaches and spectacular coral reefs of the Indian Ocean, offering an unmatched combination of bush and beach adventures.
Black Rhino tracking on foot allows you to spend the morning on foot with an expert ranger and tracker team in search of the rare and highly endangered black rhinoceros – also known as the hook-lipped rhinoceros. A walk through the bush is a far more intimate experience as without the distracting hum of the safari vehicle you will hear, smell, feel and see with heightened awareness, igniting your entire consciousness. As you slowly walk along tracks trodden by wildlife you can tread along the very paths black rhinos roam free on, and watch them from a careful distance. It is the perfect setting in which to appreciate the natural environment.
The slow pace of the walk and the interpretive skills of the armed guides open your eyes to a new and fascinating world. Learn how to follow rhino tracks, recognise rhino middens and scratching posts, and follow the signs of the bent trees and broken grass blades, searching for rhino in the company of wildlife professionals. The safety of guests is paramount and only the most highly trained and qualified &Beyond guides host these walks.
Additionally, and depending on which research activity is available at the time, you will also have the opportunity to assist in either a rhino notching or a rhino de-horning.
DESERT RHINO CAMP – DAMARALAND – NAMIBIA
Desert Rhino Camp lies in the enormous Palmwag Concession where trackers patrol and protect one of Africa’s largest free-ranging populations of Critically Endangered desert-adapted black rhino. Rhino tracking on foot and by vehicle with these dedicated conservationists is a unique and exclusive wilderness experience; other activities include exploring the area on full-day outings, nature drives or walks. The Palmwag Concession is in the Kunene region of north-western Damaraland – halfway between Swakopmund and the Etosha National Park. It covers an area of approximately 400,000 hectares.
Besides the desert-adapted black rhino to be found in the area, Palmwag Concession’s freshwater springs also support healthy populations of desert-adapted elephant, Hartmann’s mountain zebra, giraffe, gemsbok, springbok, kudu and predators such as lion, cheetah, leopard, and brown and spotted hyaena. Birdlife is prolific and diverse with most of Namibia’s endemics present.
Birding enthusiasts will enjoy the diverse avifauna found in the Palmwag Concession. Key species to look out for include Rüppell’s korhaan, Benguela long-billed lark and even Herero chat. Verreaux’s eagles are often sighted above the rocky hillsides.
Game drives showcase the landscape and offer the best possibilities of seeing desert-adapted wildlife including rhino, elephant, giraffe, antelope such as springbok or oryx, zebra and possibly even predators. Learn more about the lesser-known flora and fauna that survive in this harsh environment. Adaptation is a necessity for desert wildlife and walking through the desert environment offers unique insights on this phenomenon.
Desert Rhino Camp works in partnership with the Save the Rhino Trust Namibia as well as local communities and the Palmwag Conservancy to develop responsible ecotourism initiatives and thereby support wildlife conservation in the area. Wilderness Safaris has partnered with the three communities that administer the Palmwag Concession, where a percentage of turnover from Desert Rhino Camp, as well as a minimum annual fee, is paid to the conservancies.
MKHAYA GAME RESERVE – ESWATINI
Mkhaya Private Game Reserve is located between Manzini and Big Bend and is one of Eswatini’s most exclusive safari retreats. Here you leave your vehicle behind to join an expert private guide for game drives and bush walks. You then dine beneath the stars before drifting off to sleep in your chalet to the noises of the night.
Big Game Parks acquired Mkhaya in 1979 in order to protect the country’s last indigenous Nguni cattle. As the reserve expanded so did its ambitions and today it is a sanctuary for endangered species and home to other large mammals that once roamed Eswatini freely. White rhinos are common and black rhinos, though more elusive, are still often seen. You should also find giraffe, zebra, hippo and warthog, plus Eswatini’s only herd of buffalo. Roan, sable and tsessebe are among the rarer antelope, with wildebeest, kudu, impala and nyala all abundant. Leopards are only occasional visitors, but you may hear spotted hyenas at night and crocodiles are often seen at the main waterhole. The excellent birdlife includes such specials as narina trogon, pink-throated twinspot and crested guineafowl, while nyala and even a few shy suni browse around the camp.
Tracking rhinos on foot at Mkhaya is thrilling – white rhinos are generally approachable and the guides may take you extremely close safely. Black rhinos are more nervous and aggressive, so tracking them can be adrenaline-charged. Bush walks are not just about big game – they offer a full immersion in the sights, sounds and textures of the bush. Expect to learn about everything from the air-conditioning of a termite mound to the contents of a hyena’s droppings.
GROOTBERG LODGE – NORTHERN NAMIBIA
≠Khoadi //Hoas Conservancy is a success story in community-based conservation. Established in 1998, the conservancy is a significant component of a greater conservation area that includes communal conservancies, tourism concessions, the Etosha National Park and some freehold conservancies. Grootberg Lodge, located within the conservancy, was built thanks to funds donated by the European Union and became the first lodge to be wholly owned by the community, bringing employment and a more regular income to community members as well as a revenue stream to aide and promote social initiatives and resources.
A reform in conservation efforts and education made the community the overall custodians and beneficiaries and the value of conservation became understood. With community members accounting for 98% of the lodge’s staff, even former poachers became fervent conservationists. Their excellent tracking skills and intimate knowledge of the area made them the best candidates for the job. APredator’s Fund was established to compensate farmers for livestock lost to predators, while also generating funds for infrastructural needs to minimise their risk.
Once listed as critically endangered, black rhino populations in Namibia have increased dramatically thanks to a conservation partnership between local communities and eco-tourism efforts. The Grootberg Conservancy has been recognised by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism as a rhino custodian, and huge endeavours to protect this highly poached species continue.
The rhino tracking from Grootberg Lodge is a combination of walking and driving amidst the cliffs and the volcanic basalt ridges of the Damaraland Region and this almost full-day activity of driving on bumpy roads and walking in rocky terrain is not for the faint-hearted – rhino sightings are not guaranteed but are amazing when you do get to see them – and get the chance to approach on foot!
SARUNI RHINO CAMP – SERA CONSERVANCY – NORTHERN KENYA
Drive deep into the wilderness of northern Kenya and stay at Saruni Rhino Camp – a fabulous little camp perched next to a dry river bed in the wild, undiscovered Northern frontier of Kenya. Saruni Rhino offers an amazing walking safari that provides a uniquely thrilling adventure and allows you to actively contribute to the protection of this iconic species. Herds of elephants populate this vast landscape which has amazing birdwatching and unique cultural experiences such as the ‘singing wells’.
The camp is primarily about tracking black rhino on foot, accompanied by an expert guide and a highly trained Sera Community Conservancy ranger who will locate, and walk you in safety, to get close to some of the 16 rhinos throughout the 54,000 hectares-large sanctuary in northern Kenya.
The vast rhino sanctuary has been fenced in what is one of the most advanced conservation projects in Kenya. Expert Samburu guides game drive you a tracking distance away from the nearest rhino, leaving the vehicle and continuing carefully on foot to metres from the grazing rhino. The adrenalin is high as you come across the rhino in such close proximity for the first time and you edge closer – heart beating, pulse racing. Once close it is possible to sit and watch the rhino – all the time you are in the experienced hands of the rangers who know the rhinos well.
Sera Conservancy offers further wildlife viewing opportunities and experiences; game drives to spot the Samburu specials – oryx, gerenuk, ostrich, Grevy’s zebra, reticulated giraffe, buffalo, elephants, antelope and a plethora of birdlife.
Sera is also home to The Fifty Wells – Kisima Hamsini – which is a series of 50 springs where local pastoralists take their livestock to water, digging up water from the wells to fill up holders and troughs. The Singing Wells are also a driving distance away and can be visited with some notice – a rare treat to see the local community singing proprietary songs recognisable only by their own cattle to encourage them to come to the wells to drink.
You can also visit The Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Namunyak Wildlife Conservancy located in the remote Mathews Range nearby, providing protection for orphaned and abandoned elephant calves with an aim to release them back into the wild herds adjoining the Sanctuary.
ZIWA RHINO SANCTUARY – UGANDA
Ziwa Rhino and Wildlife Ranch, located in Nakasongola district of Uganda, is home to the only wild rhinos in Uganda. The Rhino re-introduction project was conducted by both Rhino Fund Uganda and Uganda Wildlife Authority.
Tracking of rhinos at Ziwa by foot brings you within a few meters of the rhinos with an experienced local ranger. You can also stay overnight and enjoy a night time walking safari and an early morning canoe safari in search of the shoebill and other aquatic birds in nearby Lugogo Swamp.
You will trek to see the southern white rhinos on foot with your well-trained ranger, who will guide you through the bush to where the rhinos are on the day of your visit. You will get the opportunity to watch the endangered rhinos in their natural habitat and as these rhinos are free to move around on the 7 000 hectares it is often necessary to drive to the areas where the rhinos are, before taking the bush trek. This drive is done in your own vehicle, but you can hire one of Rhino Fund Uganda’s vehicles and a driver if you prefer.
While at the sanctuary you may also encounter a range of other wildlife species including Uganda kobs, oribis, bush bucks, water bucks among others and a number of other bird species.
MOISI A TUNDRA NATIONAL PARK – LIVINGSTONE – ZAMBIA
Meet one of Africa’s Big Five – the white rhinoceros – on a wilderness walk through the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park just upstream from Victoria Falls. The national park is home to buffalo, impala, zebra, giraffe, warthog, and the endangered white rhino.
On a rhino walk you get the opportunity to come close to the amazing and sadly highly endangered white rhino. A 4 x 4 safari through the park takes you to the position where the trackers have located the rhinos. Here you receive a briefing by the guides regarding the procedures and safety aspects of the walk.
You will have the opportunity to walk near to and spend some time with the rhinos, interacting (at a safe distance) with, and photographing the rhino. Professional guides give commentary on the rhino as well as wildlife, flora and spore encountered during the walk. The walking segment is approximately 2 hours in duration.
MATOBO HILLS – CAMP AMALINDA – ZIMBABWE
Camp Amalinda is a privately owned safari lodge located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Matobo Hills – the oldest National Park in Zimbabwe. Tucked away into an ancient Bushman’s shelter, the granite domes and castle kopjes are home to wildlife and birdlife species which thrive in prolific numbers. Famous for its healthy population of endangered rhino the area is one of the most sought-after destinations within Zimbabwe.
The rhino trek is one of the most unforgettable safari experiences and you have the benefit of the skill and knowledge of Amalinda’s experienced and professional guides who work closely with local national parks scouts to locate rhinos before you can approach on foot and enjoy these magnificent mammals.
ONGAVA PRIVATE RESERVE – ETOSHA – NAMIBIA
And lastly – whilst Ongava does not officially offer rhino tracking, white Rhino approaches on foot is a popular experience during regular game drives. Rhino approaches are opportunistic and once your guide assesses the conditions are suitable, they will survey the guests to gauge the interest. Once everybody has volunteered, the guide will conduct a short safety briefing and then exit the vehicle for a downwind approach. A classic rhino approach being outside the safety of the game drive vehicle in nearby proximity to the second largest land mammal on earth is an exhilarating experience!
We would be delighted to assist you with your safari planning to incorporate rhino tracking on foot – call us on 01984 667420 or email [email protected] to start planning your wildlife adventure!