Wolf tracking vacations
2 MINUTE SUMMARY
Tip your head up, cup your hands round your mouth and howl. Then wait. Hearing a wolf howl back through the wilderness is guaranteed to trigger a Mexican wave of goosebumps. This is the joy of a wolf tracking vacation! Yes, spotting these elusive creatures can be tricky, but tracking them is a blast. Yellowstone National Park and the far north of Canada are hotspots for sightings, but with wolves creeping back into Europe, there’s a chance to see them in Slovakia, Romania, Poland and even in the Alps, just an hour from Nice. This is great news for fans of this almost mythical predator, but they continue to polarise opinion, particularly in pastoral communities where they have been feared and hunted for centuries. It means this already shy creature is even more wary of man, making sightings a rare delight rather than a guaranteed event.
Read more in our wolf tracking vacations travel guide.
Wolf Tracking Vacations
What do these trips entail?
Crucially, a wolf tracking vacation will never guarantee sightings of wolves. Shy and in short supply, these elusive creatures won’t circle your campfire in search of scraps, as they did thousands of years ago, so come with an optimistic but realistic outlook. Think of a wolf tracking vacation as a chance to explore an entire ecosystem defined by one of the world’s most iconic top predators, rather than an appointment with the big bad wolf himself. It’s an opportunity to learn about an animal loved and hated in equal measure by man, to see an abundance of wildlife and to explore a wilderness on foot, soaking up the quiet and enjoying the wonderful, skin-tingling sense that you are, just possibly, being watched by canis lupus.
Wolf tracking vacations take you to the unspoiled forests of Europe, the tundra of northern Canada or the remote frozen valleys of Yellowstone National Park. Typically, you’ll be accompanied by a conservationist, wildlife researcher or local tracker, to gain an on-the-ground insight into the life of this often misunderstood animal, learning how to track it, spotting prints and even howling to communicate with the pack! If you want to go one step further, volunteer on a wolf research project, helping to record data, set camera traps and collect samples, too.
While the wolves may elude you, a wolf tracking vacation is hopping with wildlife, as you get to know the creatures that share the wolf’s world, and potentially end up as its dinner. In France, spot chamois, wild boar and deer. In Poland, come face-to-face with herds of bison, and in Sweden, encounter moose and beavers. In North America, elk and caribou are on the lupine menu and easy to spot.
Wolf tracking vacations tend to be a week or less with often no more than six or eight travelers on each. The idea is to tread lightly in the wolf’s terrain, not barrel through it in a jeep, as you might on an African safari. This means that, as well as packing lots of layers and binoculars, bring a good level of fitness so you can handle tramping in snowshoes or hiking off-piste in search of the pack. Most wolf tracking trips involve staying slap in the middle of wild terrain, too, in mountain lodges, bush camp accommodation or rural guesthouses. This is an educational, mind expanding wildlife experience, not a luxury safari, so forget the sundowners and answer the call of the wild!
Best time to go on a wolf tracking vacation
TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL
Winter is the best time to see wolves. This is their main breeding season so they’re actively pursuing mates and establishing packs. Winter in Sweden or Eastern Europe’s wolf territories is snowy (helpful for spotting tracks), and averages 5°C to -10°C. In the USA it’s colder – think -5°C to -20°C – which keeps visitors away and improves wolf sighting rates. For milder temperatures of 10-18°C and long days, head to northern Canada in the Arctic summer (July). Tracking vacations run in summer in Sweden, France’s Southern Alps and Poland, too, but you’re more likely to see beavers and birds than a wolf then.
Photo credits: [Top box: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service ] [What these trips entail: tulsa.district] [Moose: Joopey] [Temp and rainfall: Angell Williams]
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