It’s not easy to see wild dogs on safari. The African wild dog (or painted dog) needs extensive areas in which to roam. This, combined with its susceptibility to a range of diseases, including canine distemper and rabies (transmitted by domestic dogs), means it is found only in a limited number of safari destinations.

It is only during the denning season (May to September in southern Africa but earlier in East Africa) that wild dogs are forced to remain in one area for any length of time. We must emphasize that in none of the locations listed below, are wild dogs a guaranteed sighting. These are very unpredictable predators that can move vast distances at a moment’s notice (and for no apparent reason). As a result, wild dog sightings are rather special occurrences. Here are the top ten places where you will likely spot one (or more).

 

1. Nyerere (Selous) National Park and Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Alert wild dog in Ruaha National Park, Tanzania

Both of these southern Tanzanian parks have for many years been excellent venues for die-hard wild dog fans and offer excellent sightings on a regular basis.

Nyerere (Selous) Tours

 

2. Okavango Delta, Savuti and Linyanti, Kwando and Selinda Concessions in Northern Botswana

Wild dogs on the water's edge in Savuti, Botswana

This extensive region of northern Botswana has one of the most significant populations of wild dog on the continent and offers excellent sightings. The concessions of Chitabe and Qorokwe are also gaining a reputation for wild dog sightings.

Okavango Tours

 

3. Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

African wild dogs near Hwange National Park

Hwange is Zimbabwe’s largest national park and ideal habitat for wild dogs. It’s a great park to see wild dog on safari. This is also the home of the long-running Painted Dog Conservation (PDC) project, which aims to protect, rehabilitate and reintroduce wild dog packs into the wild. Its Interpretive Hall and Walkway not far outside the gate near Main Camp is interesting and well worth a visit.

Hwange Tours

 

4. Luangwa Valley, Zambia

Three wild dogs at South Luangwa National Park, Zambia

This has long been a reliable region for wild dogs, with regular sightings in South Luangwa NP. The wild dog population in North Luangwa NP is also recovering after years of persecution and disease.

South Luangwa Tours

 

5. Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

Wild dog at Madikwe Game Reserve, South Africa

The land where Madikwe now stands was used for farming. The poor soil meant that farming was mostly unsuccessful and the South African government then decided that it would best be used as a national park to help economically uplift this disadvantaged area.

Madikwe is malaria-free, home to the Big Five (lion, leopard, buffalo, elephant and rhino) and caters well for families. Wild dogs were introduced into the park in 1994 and have subsequently thrived, despite many challenges. Since Madikwe is a fenced reserve, the wild dog packs are not able to leave it, and sightings are regular.

Madikwe Tours

 

6. Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe and Lower Zambezi National Park, Zambia

A pack of wild dogs playing in Mana Pools National Park, Zimbabwe

These two parks lie on opposite sides of the Zambezi downriver of Kariba Dam. Every year wild dogs den in and around Mana Pools NP and provide visitors with regular and exciting sightings through the safari season (May through November). After several years’ absence, wild dogs are also now regularly seen in Lower Zambezi, which lies within the range of several large packs.

Mana Pools Tours

 

7. Laikipia, Kenya

African wild dog, Laikipia, Kenya

This is the only region in Kenya where wild dogs have been seen regularly in recent times, and where packs have denned consistently.

Laikipia Plateau Tours

 

8. Kruger National Park, South Africa (Including Sabi Sand Game Reserve and Timbavati Nature Reserve)

Wild dogs playing in Kruger National Park, South Africa

Although never a regular sighting within the park itself, or in any one of the private game reserves surrounding the park, wild dogs are nevertheless widespread in the region.

Kruger Tours

 

9. Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia

Wild dogs at Liuwa Plain National Park, Zambia

In far western Zambia, Liuwa Plain National Park offers vast open grassland and a good supply of prey species for wild dog, which were reintroduced here in 2021.

Liuwa Plain Tours

 

10. KwaZulu-Natal’s Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

Wild dog in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Game Reserve, South Africa

A small reintroduced population of wild dogs can be found in Hluhluwe-iMfolozi, one of the lesser known of South Africa’s parks. It's a real gem of a location that is worth adding to any planned safari trip to this region.

Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Tours

 

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By Patrick Brakspear
Australia AU

Patrick has been an Africa travel specialist, based in Australia, for over 10 years and prior to that was a safari operator in Mana Pools in Zimbabwe.

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