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Wolf Tracking in the Alps
Saturday 30th March - Tuesday 2nd April 2019

Open your eyes to the wonder of wildlife tracking on this special four day holiday - follow the footsteps of the mysterious wolf and its prey, stay in a rustic refuge high in the mountains and enjoy nights of campfire cooking and storytelling under the stars.

OVERVIEW

This is truly a once in a lifetime holiday following the tracks and signs of the wolf, one of the most elusive and discreet predators in the world. Wolves have had a tumultuous history in Europe - during the 19th and 20th centuries they were considered pests and were nearly completely wiped out. However, thanks to international conservation laws introduced in the 1970s, wolf numbers have made a gradual recovery and individuals migrating from the Italian population have now settled back in French territory. With its wild mountains rich in prey animals like chamois, mouflon, wild boar and deer the Southern Alps provide ideal wolf habitat and are now home to the highest concentration of wolves in France.

You'll embark on a four day fully guided adventure following tracks and signs of wolf activity, as well as getting a rare insight into the lives and behaviour of the wolves' prey. For the last 20 years your high-mountain guide and tracker Bernard has been following the colonisation of the wolves, so he'll provide you with a wealth of local knowledge about these elusive animals. You'll also get lots of opportunities to stop for some wildlife watching and interpreting wolf signs, which may include hearing howling, and seeing footprints, dung and remains of animal carcasses. Although Bernard will use all his expertise to find these clues, this population of wolves are wild, roaming hunters with huge territories, so we can't guarantee you will see or hear any wolves. However, all signs of wolf activity that we do find will be recorded for monitoring and research, so even as you enjoy your holiday you'll be helping the conservation of these amazing creatures too...

Whether you're a budding photographer or amateur wildlife spotter this unique holiday will be one to remember! This trip is suitable for all and you don't need to have any experience, but you'll be trekking up to the refuge in the mountains and have long days out walking and tracking wolves so the fitter you are the more you'll enjoy it.

EC adventures are informal, friendly and great fun! They're made up of singles, couples and small sets of friends with ages typically ranging from mid 20s to mid 40s but anyone over 18 years old and young at heart is welcome. Whether it's your first time exploring the outdoors or you're an adventure professional, EC adventures are a great way to meet like-minded people in a safe, welcoming and fun environment.

ITINERARY

We've planned this trip date to coincide with the best time to track wolves and maximise your chance of seeing them - when there is a little bit of snow on the ground it will be easier for you to follow signs and tracks over long distances. We've also kept the group size small at 8 people to minimise impact on the wildlife and their habitat.

Saturday 30th March: You'll arrive at Marseilles airport in the morning (see recommended flights below), and you'll be collected as a group and driven by minibus to meet Bernard at a mystery location - wolves are still controversial so we have to keep the actual locations secret! As a group you will eat lunch and spend some time sorting out kit for the next few days, after which you'll begin the walk to the refuge looking out for wolf signs along the way. Once at the refuge you'll collect water and wood supplies and set up your sleeping arrangements inside. Any intelligence you have gathered en route will be analysed over a candlelit supper that you'll cook as a group. Depending on timing and conditions you might even be able to venture out and try some wolf howling!

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Sunday 31st March: Today is your first full day of wolf tracking - following Bernard as he decides on the best route. You'll prepare breakfast and picnic lunches together before setting off, keeping a beady eye out for signs of all the different animals 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, where they drink and perhaps even discover their favourite places... all of which will help locate and understand the wolves.

If you find fresh wolf prints you'll follow their tracks and see whether the wolves are running or walking, playing or resting, how many there are, what they're looking for and where they're going... By the end of the day you will have a really good insight into the behaviour of the wolves and mountain wildlife. You'll spend the evening back at the refuge for a second night of camp cooking and stories around the fire.

Monday 1st April: A second day of adventure in wild wolf country! After breakfast you'll set straight off looking for any wolf signs to pick up and follow. Although the chance of actually seeing a wolf is rare, it is usual to hear wolves howling and you are highly likely to find a good variety of signs.

As you learn to interpret what you find, the secret world of the wild Alpine animals and birds will come alive and you'll see things you never would have noticed previously. That evening you'll share another camp-cooked meal together at the refuge and reflect on your awesome experiences!

Tuesday 2nd April: You'll spend the morning packing up everything at the refuge and take a leisurely walk back down to your minibus, still looking out for any new wolf signs along the way. After a final lunch together you'll get your transfer back to the airport, taking some unforgettable memories with you! 

KIT LIST

You can download our recommended kit list for this adventure HERE.

In the true spirit of adventure, you are staying in a remote alpine refuge and no shower or washing facilities, so we'd recommend only a very basic washkit, hand sanitiser and perhaps some biodegradable soap that requires little or no water to use. The refuge bunks have basic mattresses but no sheets so you might want to bring your own thin sleeping mat to put on top too.

FLIGHTS

On Saturday 30th March, please book a flight that arrives no later than 11am at Marseille Airport. There are a few flights a day from London - we have found ones from British Airways and RyanAir arriving at 10:30am and 09:55am respectively. From Bristol there are limited options at present but a lot of flight times have not yet been released, so please keep an eye on these and let us know when you book.

On Tuesday 2nd April, please book a flight that leaves after 8pm so that you can make the most of the last day tracking wolves. Our recommended flights back to London are with British Airways and RyanAir, both departing at 9pm. Again Bristol has limited options at present but we expect more flights to be released later in the year.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

  • Return group minibus transfer from Marseilles Airport 
  • Three nights shared accommodation at a rustic refuge carved into the rock, 1,700m up in the mountains
  • Four days guided trekking and wolf-tracking with Bernard, who has over 20 years experience tracking wolves in the area
  • Three breakfasts at the refuge
  • Three picnic-style lunches 
  • Three hot campfire-cooked dinners - all the cooking and washing up will be done collectively as a group
  • Access to snowshoes and poles if they are needed during your trekking

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

  • International return flights to Marseilles
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Lunch on your first day (Saturday 30th March)

PAYMENT

BOOK NOW to take advantage of our discounted earlybird pricing!

  • Discounted Earlybird price for EC CLUB Members - £579 (if deposit paid before 30th December 2018)
  • Discounted Earlybird price for non EC CLUB Members - £599 (if deposit paid before 30th December 2018)
  • Standard price for EC CLUB Members - £599
  • Standard price for non EC CLUB Members - £619

You'll need to pay a £150 deposit when booking with the balance due by 30th January 2019.

There are ONLY 8 SPACES on this one-off adventure so avoid disappointment and book your space below today!

JOIN EC CLUB TODAY! EC CLUB Members enjoy great discounts on our weekends as well as lots of other adventure related deals. You'll also get exclusive access to local events and trips only open to EC CLUB Members. Find out more ...

QUESTIONS?

If you'd like to know more about this weekend or have a particular question about this or any of our adventures, please email enquiries@explorersconnect.com or call the office on 0117 405 7497 during normal office hours and we'll do our best to help you.


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