Wolf Tracking in the French Alps

Guided walking holiday in France

From € 857.- / 4 days
Price per adult

  • 1
  • Guided
Hiker looking out from a high vantage point over mountains in the French Alps Person walking over a wide path through a high grassy plain with mountains in the background Eurasian wolf walking up a grassy slope in broad daylight

Embark on a once in a lifetime wolf tracking wilderness adventure following the tracks of one of the most elusive predators in the Alps with a wolf expert guide!

Location: Southern French Alps – (actual location is secret)

Holiday Highlights

  • Complete immersion in nature
  • De-connect from modern distractions (no mobile phone connection, no internet)
  • Benefit from knowledgeable and experienced local guide for spotting and understanding wildlife
  • Visit breathtaking scenery and wild, untouched mountains
  • Small group, quality experience with maximum 8 people on the trip
  • Opportunity to spot a wide range of animal and birdlife including golden eagles, black grouse, ptarmigan, chamois, deer, wild boar, foxes and if you are lucky, a wolf!
  • Contribute to the wolf network and management of wolves in the Alps

Brief History of Wolves in the Alps

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 of wolves in the French Alps 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.

Wolves remain very controversial and as such the exact destination of this wolf tracking trips is kept secret.

Your Guide and Wolf Expert

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 4-day adventure following tracks and signs of wolf activity in the area and give you a rare insight into the lives and behavior of the other animals as they live under the threat of the wolf. This is a tracking holiday so we will be following signs of wolves and spending some time wildlife watching and interpreting what we see.

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.

Wolf monitoring

All significant signs of wolf activity; sightings, howling, that we find will be recorded and sent into the official ‘wolf network’ who monitor the colonisation of wolves in the French Alps to help in their research.

Who will love this trip?

If you are looking for a wildlife holiday in the Alps and are interested in wolves and nature then you will love this tracking adventure. Wildlife photographers will have a ball!

Please note that the fixed departure date trips are based on a group size of 6 – 10. The organisers prefer to keep the groups small (maximum 10 people but usually 6 or 7) to minimize 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, and you can contact the holiday provider for a quote.

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.

Sustainable Tourism

To reduce impact on the environment, this trip runs a maximum of twice a year and is limited to a group size of 8 people. The toilet used is an outside dry toilet and water use, taken from a nearby spring, is optimized for drinking, washing and cooking. Only biodegradable products are used for washing and cleaning. All waste is taken out of the natural environment and recyclable objects recycled. Energy use is minimal as there is no electricity in the accommodation, so candles are used for lighting and wood for heating.

Your guide is a local guide from the area and he will help you to gain a greater insight into the mountain eco-system and the cycles and equilibrium between species on this trip.

Your hosts will also plant a tree on your behalf with their partners Mossy Earth to help offset your carbon footprint from this trip.

Accommodation for Wolf Tracking in the French Alps

For this trip you will stay in a basic winter refuge in a renovated church situated in the ruins of an old abandoned village.

The refuge is a beautiful building with very basic but functional facilities. There is a mezzanine area to sleep on (you need your own camping mats and sleeping bags) and a large open plan living area with wood-burning stove, gas cooker, utensils and cutlery and tables and chairs. There is no electricity so evenings are candle lit! Running water is only outside where there is a fresh water spring and a washing up area. There is also a dry toilet outside.

Group of people outdoors in the snow having lunch at a wooden table
Dinner indoors in wolf-tracking refuge
Dinner indoors in wolf-tracking refuge
group taking a break during wolf tracking.jpg
spotting wildlife during a walk

Wolf Tracking walking holiday itinerary

looking for wolf tracks
scanning the steep slopes for signs of wolves

Your hosts 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 they 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, set up refuge and first track!

We will collect you from Marseille airport at 10h30 or Aix-e-Provence TGV train station at 11h. There are several early flights and TGV lines that arrive in time for this transfer or you can arrive the day before, stay overnight in Marseille and meet us at the airport. We will ask you for your flight and train details when you book and will be at arrivals to meet you.

We will then drive up to the walk in to the refuge (about a 2 hour drive) and eat a picnic lunch (you need to bring this first picnic lunch with you) before walking in to the refuge. Depending on the snow conditions, it may be possible to get a 4×4 up to the refuge, but if not we will be carrying everything up on foot and may need to do a few round trips!

We will then unpack and set up the refuge whilst it is still light. Once everything is set up, we’ll go for a walk around the area with Bernard, your high mountain guide and tracker for a first explore to look for signs and prints of wolves and other wildlife and get a feel for the area!

After getting back to the refuge, we will cook dinner together and eat under candlelight. We’ll discuss our plans for the next few days based on recent sightings, any evidence we find and other local intelligence.

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.

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.

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 sacks and set off for the third day of our wolf tracking adventure.

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.

We may change sectors to look in a different wolf pack territory or stay where we are, depending on what we have discovered so far. From this refuge there are two established wolf pack territories though these are reasonably dynamic and can change.

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!!

A last evening at the refuge – maybe a good night for an outside BBQ if weather permits!

Day 4 Last day wolf tracking and return to TGV or airport

This morning we will clean and tidy the refuge and pack up all our belongings, kit and any left over food. We have privileged access to this refuge so it is important that we leave it in the same state or better than how we found it!

Depending on how much time we have, we will head out for one last track from the refuge or in a different sector en route to the airport, again following signs of 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 take you back to the TGV at Aix-en-Provence for 17h35 or Marseille airport for 18h in time for an evening train or flight back home.

Dates and Availability

walker spotting wolves in the French Alps
wolf tracks in the snow

This walking holiday is available from December to April. The itinerary and price of this holiday is slightly different for trips in Winter, because of one night accommodation in a hotel/guesthouse instead of in a winter refuge.

There are fixed dates for this trip, although private wolf tracking trips are available anytime between December and April, subject to accommodation availability.

Please note that the fixed departure date trips are based on a group size of 4 – 6. Your hosts prefer to keep the groups small (maximum 8 people) to minimise disruption and noise and to give you a better quality trip. It’s still possible to cater for smaller or larger groups and families too. Please contact them for more information through the contact form below.

Dates 2024

These are fixed departure dates that you can book onto as an individual, couple or small group to join up with other like-minded people.

  • 30 Mar 2024–2 Apr 2024 Status: Sold out Price (pp): 798€
  • 29 Mar 2025–1 Apr 2025 Status: 5 more to book to guarantee trip Price (pp): 867€

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    Map of France showing the location of the Wolf Tracking in the French Alps Guided walking holiday

    Holiday Type:

    Guided
    Walking Holiday


    Board Basis:

    Full Board

    Price:

    From € 857.- / 4 days
    Price per adult

    Features:

    • 1 One accommodation

    What's included:

    • 3 nights in a winter refuge
    • 3 x picnic lunches, 3 x breakfasts, and 3 x evening meals
    • Food for evening meals, picnics, and breakfast provided but you will all prepare, cook, and wash up together
    • 4 days with 3 overnights with expert wolf tracker and high mountain guide
    • Snowshoes and poles if needed
    • Transport during the trip
    • Transfers to and from Marseille airport or Aix-en-Provence TGV train station

    NOT included:

    All other costs, including travel costs to the starting-point of this holiday.

    Walking Grade:

    alpine mountains
    • Alpine conditions
    • Challenging walking

    Remarks:

    Tailor-made walking possible

    Best time to go:

    January, February, March, April, December

    Contact Details:

    Wolf Tracking in the French Alps, a Guided walking holiday in France by Undiscovered Alps

    Contact: Sally & Bernard
    Telephone: +44 (0)345 009 8501

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    Languages spoken:

    English, French

    Getting there:

    • Marseille (100 km)
    • Aix-en-Provence TGV train station (100 km)

    Location map

    Notes:

    The arrival and departure point for this trip is Marseille airport or Aix-en-Provence TGV train station There is a 3% DISCOUNT TO ANYONE TRAVELLING BY TRAIN INSTEAD OF PLANE. To claim your 3% discount, you will need to show proof of train travel for routes of over 3 hours that could have been taken by plane. Please ask when you book. The first transfer is scheduled for 10h30 from Marseille airport and 11h from Aix-en-Provence TGV on your arrival day so please make sure you organize your flights or trains to coincide with these pick-up times. There are a number of early morning flights from the UK that arrive in time for this transfer. If you are traveling by other means, please make sure you can get to the airport for 10h30. The holiday provider will let you know where exactly to meet in the airport if you are not arriving on a flight. For getting back, the holiday provider will make sure you get to the TGV station for 17h35 and to the airport for 18h in time for an evening flight. There is some flexibility for slight delays, but the trip can't be compromised for the rest of the group for a delayed or cancelled flight or train. If you miss the scheduled transfers, the costs of getting you to the wolf tracking destination (a 2-hour taxi) will be at your own expense. Similarly, if your return flight or train is canceled or requires an earlier transfer back to the airport, this will be at your expense.

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