If you’ve been searching for the perfect, bucket-list-worthy way to celebrate the Year of the Dog — and we know you have — you’re in luck. These four once-in-a-lifetime journeys will take you on the hunt (no, not literally) for the world’s most elusive and majestic canines.
African Wild Dogs (Southern Africa)
Thanks to their critically endangered status, African wild dogs are among the most challenging creatures to spot on safari. We’ve spoken to folks who’ve been on safari many times over several decades and never seen one in the wild. Your best chances are during Botswana’s hot, lush summer, the most beautiful, colorful, and (from a wildlife perspective) productive time of year. The area in and around the country’s stunning Okavango Delta is home to some of the best wildlife viewing on the continent. On Natural Habitat Adventures’ Botswana: Kalahari, the Delta, and Beyond, safari-goers are almost guaranteed to spot wild lions and leopards, particularly in the area of the delta bordering the Moremi Game Reserve.
Ethiopian Wolves (Ethiopia, of course)
Ethiopian wolves are the only wolf species in Africa and the rarest of the continent’s carnivores with estimated numbers around 400. Without a specially trained guide, spotting one in the wild is next to impossible. The bespoke nine-day Wolf Conservation Expedition from Spencer Scott Travel takes wolf-enthusiasts into the Bale Mountains. The region is often called “The Roof of Africa,” a stunning, high-altitude mountain plateau where it’s believed half of the country’s wolf population lives. Only a handful of travelers each year are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of these elusive creatures, so this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The Wolves of Yellowstone (Idaho/Montana)
Spotting wildlife in Yellowstone National Park isn’t hard, but the park’s most interesting critters are also its most elusive, which is why going with a specially trained guide is key. On the Spring Wolves & Bears Expedition from Wildlife Expeditions, travelers trek deep into the park’s rugged backcountry in search of wolves emerging from their dens after the long, hard winter. With the right guide, it’s possible to catch canine parents teaching their pups and cubs essential survival skills like stalking and hunting prey. The tour also provides the opportunity to spot massive herds of bison, elk, moose, and deer, plus wild foxes and bald eagles.
Arctic Fox (Manitoba, Canada)
Churchill, Manitoba, is arguably the “Polar Bear Capital of the World.” Every year, thousands of travelers journey from around the world to tour the tundra in search of the regal bears. However, the region around Hudson Bay also teems with a large variety of other Arctic critters, including the elusive Arctic fox. On this Ultimate Churchill Adventure tour, travelers explore the frozen landscape with the aid of highly trained naturalist guides. The seven-day journey also includes once-in-a-lifetime day trips like dog-sledding through Canada’s breathtaking boreal wilderness and taking a helicopter tour into an active denning area for polar bears.
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