This year Chinese New Year falls on the 16th February and marks the year of the dog. An excuse (as if we needed one) to talk about some of our favourite furry friends, the African wild dog.
We know we've already waxed lyrical about these incredibly rare and equally cute (if rather vicious!) hunting dogs, but our Africa team just can't stress enough how much of a trump card you're sitting on if you can say you've seen a pack in the wild.
So, to help you out in the search, here's our list of the four African destinations you're most likely to get lucky...
Moremi Game Reserve, Botswana
The godfather of wild dog sightings, this is the place to head if you want the very best chance of a sighting. With a population of between 150 and 200 wild dogs roaming the north-eastern areas of the reserve there is a very good chance of spotting dogs in a more concentrated area. Whilst on your search you'll also (hopefully) come across the Big Five and a whole load of other fantastic wildlife too. As a break from the jeep why not take a traditional mokoro safari on the flooded waters of the Okavango Delta? It's pretty hard to go wrong here.
Where to stay: Shinde Enclave
Laikipia Conservancy, Kenya
In Kenya's wild north, the Laikipia Conservancy is a vast expanse of stunning and incredibly diverse landscapes. Interspersed with the cedar forests and gorges are huge escarpments and empty plains, and interspersed somewhere within all of that are a growing number of wild dogs. And if you end up being one of the unlucky ones who doesn't get a sighting, this is a pretty damn impressive place to help ease the disappointment - perhaps with a camel or helicopter safari?
Where to stay: Ol Malo
Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa
Malaria free and one of South Africa's biggest (and game-rich reserves), Madikwe is a great choice for safari hard nuts and first time families alike. The Madikwe Wild Dog Project was started in 1994 and has seen a huge success in growing the population from just six individuals to several packs of around ten, all of which are now regularly spotted in the reserve. Combine your stay in Madikwe with a few days in cosmopolitan Cape Town and you've got the makings of an awesome South African adventure.
Where to stay: Madikwe Safari Lodge
Ruaha National Park, Tanzania
Despite being Tanzania's largest national park Ruaha is still relatively undiscovered by tourism, and remains a wilderness brought to life by the waters of the Ruaha River. The lack of human presence is one of the major reasons wild dogs have thrived so well here, and spotting a pack without another vehicle or group in the distance only makes the experience more special. Our top tip, since you're making the journey all the way to Tanzania, why not include a few days relaxing and snorkelling in Zanzibar... bush and beach, what's not to love?!
Where to stay: Jabali Ridge
The Best of the Rest...
While the above destinations might be renowned for their wild dog sightings, that's not to say they never occur anywhere else. In fact, some of our team have been lucky enough to spot wild dogs for themselves in a number of more unlikely spots. These include...
- Namibia (various): our resident (ex)safari guide Matt has had several very cool sightings during his years working across Namibia.
- Chobe National Park, Botswana: Africa extraordinaire Nadine was lucky enough to watch sleeping dogs lie (and wake up) while on holiday in Chobe.
- Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania: our intrepid Africa Product Manager Jacqui spotted several dogs while on her Tanzania research trip in 2016.
- South Luangwa National Park, Zambia: Our lovely Zambia expert Ellie managed to snap some seriously cute dog photos while out on safari in South Luangwa.