Southern Africa

5 Best Wilderness Destinations to see African Wild Dog



Tenneil Zondagh


The African wild dog is known by many names, including Cape hunting dog, African hunting dog and painted dog. Its scientific name, Lycaon pictus, means “painted wolf”, which refers to the African wild dog’s fur pattern, which features red, black, brown, white, and yellow colouration.


In terms of the African wild dog’s physical appearance, each dog has its own unique coat pattern, while they all share a sense of fun, a gentleness of soul and co-operative spirits, which makes them one of Africa’s most enigmatic creatures. Sightings of these boisterous canines bring excitement to any safari in southern Africa, and if you are lucky enough to find them on a chase … make sure your seatbelt is buckled tight!




African wild dogs are classified as endangered on the IUCN’s Red List, and gained notable attention after the Dynasties documentary by Sir David Attenborough; sadly, however, the population continues to decline.


Learn more about these handsome hounds and the pack-life of African wild dogs here.


As leaders in conservation tourism, Wilderness has a number of camps where you can regularly see African wild dogs in all their glory. 



If the “painted wolf” is on your bucket list of animals to see in the wild, these are the camps you need to visit …


Chitabe – Botswana



Chitabe is located in the Chitabe Concession, which covers 22 000 hectares of pristine Okavango Delta wilderness. This unique area harbours a massive variety of habitats within close proximity, giving rise to a surprising diversity of species. The mix of Okavango and Kalahari ecosystems makes for an excellent home to an abundant array of herbivores: giraffe, buffalo, red lechwe, tsessebe, impala and elephant, which in turn support the larger predators: lion, leopard, spotted hyaena, cheetah, and of course, wild dog.



Read here about Camp Manager Moalosi’s African wild dog adventures during lockdown, and how he spent time watching and learning more about these wondrous creatures who make up the Chitabe logo.


Mombo – Botswana




The Mombo Wildlife Area is known as “The Place of Plenty,” highlighted by the massive concentrations of plains game and predators that live here. These include all the big cats, of which lion sightings are frequent. Leopard, spotted hyaena, large herds of buffalo, elephant, giraffe, blue wildebeest, Burchell's zebra and more abound, while cheetah and wild dog often move through the area.


The Motsumi Pack of African wild dogs were recently spotted near Letaka Pan, a short three minute drive from Mombo Camp. Directly translated, Motsumi means "to hunt".



This is the main pack that was first seen on the island in 2014; since then they have offered great excitement and intrigue, with four different alpha males in the short six years. There are 15 dogs in the pack at the moment.


Vumbura – Botswana




The annually flooded grasslands of the Okavango Delta surrounding Vumbura Plains are locally referred to as “melapo”, and offer good seasonal viewing of elephant, giraffe, impala, sable antelope, kudu, zebra, common waterbuck and reedbuck, tsessebe, wildebeest, red lechwe and Cape buffalo. Hippo and crocodile are common in the waterways. Predators include the African wild dog, several resident prides of lion, as well as leopard, cheetah and African wildcat. Birding is also exceptional all year round.


Vumbura Plains has delighted us with images of the Golden Pack that frequents Vumbura Plains. The pack’s colouration is famous for its distinctive gold patterning; they were recently seen out and about with seven pups in tow.


As part of a collaborative effort between the University of Zurich and Botswana Predator Conservation (BPC), the pack is being monitored by GPS/satellite radio collars, in an ongoing research project for this Endangered species.


DumaTau – Botswana



DumaTau, located in a region of woodland and watercourses, the Linyanti Wildlife Reserve in northern Botswana boasts the famous Savuti Channel, an ancient and sporadic watercourse that supports abundant wildlife, and the productive Linyanti River. This area is famous for its huge concentrations of elephant in the dry season, and year-round game viewing. The varied woodland habitats and ancient floodplains along the Linyanti fault line make the area an essential part of any Botswana itinerary.


As part of Wilderness’ Guest Science initiatives, and in support of this project, visitors to the Linyanti are encouraged to report all wild dog sightings. The required data is as follows: number of adults, pups, collared individuals, date and location (co-ordinates or a rough description). Side pictures are of particular value as they allow the identification of single dogs based on their unique coat patterns. We are still a long way from obtaining the desired information from sightings, so these contributions are much appreciated.


WhatsApp: +41 77 4352783



Chikwenya – Zimbabwe



Chikwenya Camp in Mana Pools National Park lies at the heart of the Zambezi Valley (and was the area where the aforementioned Dynasties documentary was filmed with Sir David Attenborough), a remote, beautiful place with spectacular views. The area offers large concentrations of buffalo and elephant, while predators such as lion, wild dog, leopard and cheetah are often sighted. Greater kudu, Burchell's zebra, impala, warthog and common waterbuck can be seen on the surrounding plains, and the grunting of hippo can be heard all day. Birdlife is superb, with numerous local specials like collared palm-thrush and racket-tailed roller.


With a large number of predators in the area, Chikwenya is known to offer jaw-dropping safari excitement. Read one such experience here, when a pack of African wild dogs fought for their kill against savage hyaena: Tug of War at Chikwenya.


Book your Wild Dog Wanderlust adventure now, contact us for more information.



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When we say we’re there every step of the way, we mean it, literally. From planning the perfect circuit, to private inter-camp transfers on Wilderness Air, and easing you through Customs. We’re with you on the ground, at your side, 24-7, from start to finish. Ready to take the road less travelled? Contact our Travel Designers to plan an unforgettable journey.