Wolf Tracking in the Alps


Holiday Overview

A once in a lifetime wolf tracking wilderness adventure following the tracks of one of the most elusive predators in the Alps!

This is a once in a lifetime 3 day wolf tracking wilderness adventure following the tracks of one of the most elusive predators in the Alps, the wolf as it prepares for the hard winter months ahead.

The wolves, were originally wiped out of France at the beginning of the 20th century. However, there has always been a population in Italy and gradually over the years, the Italian wolves have migrated back into the French Alps.

The first official sightings were in 1992 and 1993 in the Alpes Maritimes. The wolves have continued to spread west and north looking for new territories and the Southern Alps, with its wild and unspoilt mountains rich in chamois, mouflon, wild boar, deer and other prey is a perfect habitat and now home to the highest concentration of wolves in France. Read more on the history of wolves on our blog.

Wolves remain very controversial and as such we keep the actual destination of our wolf tracking trips secret. Have a read of the BBC' Wildlife magazine's analysis of the Wolves in the Alps

The best time to track wolves is when there is a little bit of snow on the ground as it is easier to follow signs and tracks over long distances.

Your high mountain guide and tracker, Bernard has been following the colonisation of the wolves in the area for 20 years. With a wealth of local knowledge and access to a network of other local wolf enthusiasts, you won't get a much better insight into these elusive animals.

He will take you on a 3 day adventure following tracks and signs of wolf activity in the area and give you a rare insight in to the lives and behaviour of the other animals as they live under the threat of the wolf.

However, it isn't a wolf park and the territory of each pack or solitary wolf is enormous. So, please be aware that although you may be lucky and find signs straight away, you may not find anything and there is no guarantee you will see or hear a wolf.

All signs of wolf activity; prints, howling, poo etc that we find will be recorded and sent into the official 'wolf network' who monitor the colonisation of wolves in the Alps to help in their research.

Please note that the fixed departure date trips are based on a group size of 4 - 6. We prefer to keep the groups small (maximum 6 people) to minimise disruption and noise and also feel you get a better quality trip. However it is possible to cater for smaller or larger groups and families. Please contact us for a quote.

Our wolf tracking kit list should give you an idea of what you'll need on this adventure!

Itinerary

Itinerary Overview

We have put together an example itinerary for you so you can get an idea of what to expect on your wolf tracking adventure. But it is not set in stone and we will adapt it to suit the group.

The main thing to remember is that you will be following wild animals so it is really they who will be dictating the itinerary!

Day 1 - Arrive and first day tracking

We will either collect you from Gap train station your hotel if you travelled over yesterday.

We will have breakfast together and Bernard will talk through recent wolf activity and go through a plan for the next few days. There will be an opportunity for a shower here!

We will be going off for two full days so will need to carry in everything. As we will have quite heavy packs, our first objective is to get to the refuge where we can drop off overnight kit and food, so we have a light day pack to spend the rest of the day with.

This is a full day out with Bernard, your high mountain guide and tracker following the signs and prints of wolves and other wildlife. The actual destination will depend on where the wolves are thought to be at the time, but walking is likely to be ‘off piste’ in a wild, all terrain environment.

You will be looking at the signs of all the different animals; chamois, wild boar, mouflon and deer, living in the wolves' territory. You will learn how to identify and interpret their prints - whether they are fresh or old, running, walking or ambling, you'll see what food they eat, discover their favourite places, where they drink, their dens..... all useful information to help locate and understand the wolves.

If we find fresh wolf prints our route will be determined and we'll follow their tracks and interpret their behaviour along the way... do they separate to hunt, are they running or slowly patrolling their territory, do they play or rest, what are they looking for and where are they going? Have they recently hunted and eaten or are they hungry in search of prey.... ?

By the end of the day you will have a really good insight into the behaviour of the wolves and mountain wildlife as they eat, sleep, mate and carry out their lives under the threat of their biggest predators.

 

Day 2 - Second Day Tracking

After a hot coffee and breakfast in the refuge, we'll pack our sacks and set off for the second day of our wolf tracking adventure. Our route will largely depend on what we saw or heard yesterday and overnight. There is the possibility of moving to a different refuge to try and target a different part of the territory or continuing to explore around here.

By now you'll be getting a real feel for the local wildlife and will know where to look to find chamois and mouflon as they graze, you'll notice where roe deer slept the night, where wild boar traversed in search of food and will be able to tell the difference between a dog and a wolf print.

Who knows what we'll find today, one thing is guaranteed though and that is that it will be a wildlife adventure that you won't forget! We'll be looking vigilantly for the wolves and signs of their activity and will try howling to try and start up communication with them. It may feel bizarre howling out loud into the wilderness but the wolves do respond. It is one of the official ways to find out if wolf packs have reproduced. You can tell in the replies if it is a youngster or adult!!

At the end of the day, we'll head back to the refuge and prepare for the evening. Another evening out in the wilds of the Alps under the moonlight and stars. We know there are animals out there, we will hear them in the dark... and there is a strong possibility the wolves are even watching us... We'll put up the camera again, maybe in a different place this time to see what goes on around the refuge at night!

 

Day 3 - Third Day Wolf Tracking

After a hot coffee and breakfast, we'll pack our (much lighter after having eaten all the food) sacks and set off for the last day of our wolf tracking adventure.

We'll head back from the refuge, again following signs of the wolves, ultimately in the direction of the vehicle shuttle (if we have gone in a different direction following the wolves). It's the last chance we'll have to see if we can catch a glimpse of where they are hiding so we'll take our time scanning the mountainsides with our binoculars! We'll also spend some time howling to see if we can elicit some communication with the wolves.

At the end of your adventure, you should be able to tell the difference between a dog print and wolf print, a chamois, deer or wild boar print, and whether it was running or walking and in what direction, you’ll have discovered the hiding places and dens of the animals and seen and heard plenty of wildlife. You may even have been lucky enough to have caught a glimpse of the wolves in action or heard them howling! We'll then head off back to civilisation.

We'll stop off for a shower and after trip drink so you can go off on to the night train feeling refreshed! This is where we will have time to download the night pictures onto the computer and find out what all the strange noises were in the night!

We'll also fill out the forms to send in records of all the wolf activity we have seen to the wolf network and forest guards. This is all recorded and contributes to the knowledge database of wolf activity in the area and ultimately the environmental management of the region. We'll give you a lift back to Gap train station for your night train or to your hotel for the night if you are staying an extra night.

Reviews

Winter Multi Activity Holidays - Ray Lee

April 2017

Mid-March we went to the French Alps for a winter adventure hosted by Undiscovered Mountains (UM).It was a 6 night adven...

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Wildlife Holidays - Ged and Marian Taylor

March 2017

We had a fantastic few days wolf-tracking in the hills around Gap, where we stayed in the basic but comfortable mountain...

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James Murray - Wildlife Holiday

April 2015

The guides, Sally and Bernard, are very friendly and helpful and both excel in their specific area which makes for a ver...

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David Kelly - Wildlife Holiday

November 2012

Hi Sally & Bernard, A belated 'thank you' for what can only be described as the experience of a lifetime. Our three day...

Read More

Directions

The arrival and departure location for the trip is Gap which has train links from Paris (including an overnight sleeper), Marseille, Lyon, Valence and Grenoble. We have found that the night train from Paris to Gap is the most popular mode of transport for getting here, so have arranged the itinerary based on an early morning arrival on the first day. There will be an opportunity to shower don't worry!!

If you prefer to travel the day before and stay in a hotel or stay an extra night at the end of the trip, we can easily arrange this for you and collect you from there in the morning.

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