The wolves of the Southern French Alps have a turbulent history. These formidable predators have not always been popular with the farmers and livestock herders who share their mountain habitat, and during the 1930s were hunted to extinction in the area. Over time, populations from Italy have gradually migrated back into the area, with the first official sightings recorded in the early 1990s. Attracted by the unspoiled mountains, rich in chamois, mouflon, deer, boar and other prey, wolves have continued to move into new territories within the Southern Alps and, although still rare, sightings are becoming more common…
This unique winter wolf tracking adventure gives you the once-in-a-lifetime chance to follow in the footsteps (quite literally) of one of the Alps’ most elusive and iconic predators. Accompanied by Bernard, an expert mountain and tracking guide with a wealth of local knowledge, you’ll go ‘off-piste’ in search of wolves on a three-day tracking trip. Learn how to identify and interpret animal tracks and signs, and even spend a night camping out in a refuge, deep within the alpine wilderness; by the end of your expedition, you’ll have gained a far greater understanding of wolf behaviour and ecology, and hopefully you’ll also have enjoyed some thrilling encounters with wild wolves!
Discover the truth behind the myth of the 'big bad wolf' here.
This tour strives to support local communities, and to ensure that any money brought into the area from outside (via tourism) stays within the destination community. All of their chosen accommodations are locally owned and run, and they hire local guides rather than foreigners looking to do a ‘season’ in the Alps. Not only does this mean that guests enjoy a more authentic experience and benefit from local knowledge, but all of these measures help to make sure that the benefits of tourism are felt in the destination community itself. This wolf-tracking trip offers an alternative source of income for local people, who might otherwise be solely reliant on the commercial ski industry.
We vet all of our guides and accommodation to make sure they are operating in a responsible and sustainable manner. For instance, accommodations that are built using eco-friendly materials, and who offer organic and local produce to their guests are prioritised for use, whilst guides that are able to explain local habitats, flora and fauna to travellers to foster a greater respect and understanding of the natural world are selected for employment. Finally, this educational trip gives travellers a good insight into the fragile equilibrium that exists between humans and wildlife; during the tracking, every care is taken to not disturb this natural balance, and to protect wolf populations by keeping their locations secret.
Arrival and First Day of Tracking: Upon your arrival, you’ll be collected for a morning meeting with your tracking and mountain guide, Bernard. He’ll talk you through the recent wolf activity, and go through his plans for your next few days. After breakfast, you’ll head out for your first full day of tracking! You’ll walk ‘off-piste’ through the wild alpine environment, following the signs and prints of wolves and other wildlife living within the wolf territory including chamois, boar, mouflon and deer. Learn to identify and interpret prints, and gain a greater understanding of wolf behaviours. After a good day out in the mountains, you’ll return to your accommodation for the night for a warm shower, hearty meal, and a good night’s sleep.
First Day of Overnight Expedition: Depending on yesterday’s successes, and local knowledge, you’ll select your destination for your overnight expedition from one of several winter refuges. Wolves are often most active at dawn and dusk, so a night spend out on the mountains is a fantastic way to maximise your chances of an encounter! During the evening, you’ll patrol the area around the refuge, and even howl to the wolves to see if you get any response! Condition dependent, Bernard will also set up a motion-triggered infrared camera, so you can see if you had any night-time visitors…
Final Day: After a night spent in the alpine wilderness, you’ll need a hot, strong coffee to set you up for your final day’s tracking. Today is your final chance to see if you can catch a glimpse of the elusive wolves, so you’ll take your time scanning the mountainsides using binoculars. Finally you’ll return to civilisation (perhaps unwillingly!), for a shower and a drink. Before you catch the night train or head to your hotel, you’ll help to fill out the forms to record any wolf activity you’ve seen. This data contributes to the database of wolf activity in the area, and ultimately the environmental management of the region.
- Price shown is a guide 'from' price per person, based on double occupancy
- Click 'Ask a Question' up above to speak to the operator about this tour's availability, departure dates and rates
- It is possible to arrive the day before and spend the night in a hotel in Gap before the first day's tracking and / or add an extra night at the end of the trip
- It is also possible to extend the trip for extra days to include some other winter activities, such as ice climbing snowshoeing, husky sledding, skiing or ski touring. Just click 'Ask a Question' to chat directly with the operator!
- Please note that wolves are wild animals, and it is by no means guaranteed that you will see or hear them during your trip. Hopefully you’ll be one of the lucky ones! The itinerary shown should give you an idea of what to expect, but your plans may be adapted depending on conditions, the group, and the wolves themselves!
- First breakfast en route to the wolf tracking
- 1 night half board accommodation in a hotel or guest house - sharing 2 to a room
- 1 night in a winter refuge - food for evening meal and breakfast provided but you will all cook together
- Picnic lunches
- 3 days with 1 overnight with expert wolf tracker and high mountain guide
- Snowshoes and poles if needed
- Transport during the trip
- Transfers to and from Gap train station
- Anything else not mentioned in inclusions