Written by Joseph Cameron
Kenya immediately offers up a range of immersive travel experiences for the global adventurers that we take there, from marathons to mountaineering. There are however, few adventure options in Kenya, or the world, that offer the experience, thrill, remoteness and adventure of an African Wild Dog Safari.
While most people will tell you that East Africa is no place to swop out rubber tyres for rubber soles, we all know that there comes a time in your life when you have to push your boundaries. Home to black rhino, hippo, elephant, lion, hyenas, leopard and wild dogs to name a few – your few minutes, hours or days (depending on how adventurous you are) walking through the Kenyan wild is sure to deliver on the thrill you’re after.
So, you have the basics, but how do you find them? According to our friends Anabelle & Steve – expert wild dog trackers operating out of Laikipia, Kenya – you do find them moving through the Mara and some other conservancies in Northern Kenya, but Laikipia is the only place in Kenya where the packs are resident.
Annabelle’s favorite wild dogs roam through Western Laikipia, where the darker wild dogs of the region have formed a comfortable bond with Steve & Anabelle, having worked with these packs for over 10 years. Sit these two down for a few hours and they’ll be able to rattle off story after story of close encounter and incredible sighting – like watching a pack of wild dogs chase a leopard up a tree, and other ordinary, every day things.
While this all sounds great, many ask what makes wild dogs special enough to track for days on end, all while risking encounters with dangerous predators. Here are a few of our favorite things about wild dogs.
Wild dogs are incredibly intelligent, communicative animals. This, combined with their instinct to work together as a pack creates hunting skills like no other. Usually hunting in the early morning, wild dogs reach speeds of 37 miles per hour as they approach in a pack, split up in perfect co-ordination, surround and take down their prey – at times much larger than them.
Skill, stamina and smarts combine to make wild dogs an absolute thrill to watch when hunting.
Interactions between different members of a wild dog pack are memorable events. We can’t put it better than Anabelle: “The most amazing thing is seeing them work as a pack. Unity is everything, they take care of each other, share feeding responsibilities when the alpha pair has pups. Seeing them split up for an hour when they lose each other out hunting and then re-group, the reunion is extraordinary. Squeaking with excitement and leaping in the air in a flurry of dust, white tail tips and euphoria after only an hour or so apart!”
These pack dynamics unfold unexpectedly and you are unlikely to appreciate the full experience on a normal game drive through a reserve. Walking with wild dogs in Kenya over the course of 4 days however, provides ample opportunity to see things that you’ll never forget.
Wild dogs are endangered. Estimates place the remaining population at around 6,600 according to the African Wildlife Foundation. Travelling to areas for the purpose of seeing these incredible creatures places the plight of wild dogs higher on the priority list for governments – assisting conservation and the halting of the decreasing numbers of wild dogs.