Namibia has several long hikes suited to those who are both fit and experienced in Africa. These include unaccompanied trails along the Fish River Canyon, in the Naukluft Mountains and on Waterberg Plateau, and guided trails on Waterberg and along the Ugab River.
There are also hundreds of shorter hikes, varying from half an hour's stroll to a few days, and many areas which cry out to be explored on foot. None involve much big game, though you may come across larger animals; all are more about spending time in the environments to increase your understanding of them.
Safety of guided walks
In many areas where guided game walks are undertaken, your chances of being in a compromising situation with seriously dangerous game – namely lion, buffalo or elephant – are almost zero. There are many first-class guided walks in the desert and the mountains, showing you superb scenery and fascinating areas, which don't have these risks to contend with.
Generally Namibia isn't the place for a walking safari which concentrates on big-game (as always, there are exceptions – Hobatere springs to mind). Hence many guides don't need to carry a gun, or know how to use one. This is fine for most of Namibia.
However, in areas where you may meet lion, buffalo or elephant, you need extra vigilance. A few lodges will take chances, and send you out walking with a guide who doesn't have big game experience. Don't let them. If lion, buffalo or elephant are present, then you need a professional guide who carries a loaded gun and knows how to use it.
This applies especially in Mahango, Mamili and Mudumu, which have thick vegetation cover and healthy game populations. Don't accept the logic that 'experience and large stick' will be good enough. It will be for 99.9% of the time... but you don't want to become the 0.1%. Don't walk in such areas unless your guide has experience of big game and a rifle.
Further east, in Zambia and Zimbabwe where walking safaris have been refined, the guides must pass stringent exams and practical tests before they are licensed to walk with clients.
Guided walking safaris
If you plan to do much walking, and want to blend in, try to avoid wearing any bright, unnatural colours, especially white. Muted shades are best; greens, browns and khaki are ideal. Hats are essential, as is sun-block. Even a short walk will last for two hours, and there's often no vehicle to which you can retreat if you get too hot.
Cameras and binoculars should be immediately accessible – ideally in dust-proof cases strapped to your belt. They are of much less use if buried at the bottom of a camera bag.
With regard to safety, your guide will always brief you in detail before you set off. S/he will outline possible dangers, and what to do if they materialise. Listen carefully: this is vital.