Since 1997, husband and wife team – Nick and Desirée Murray – have been guiding in Mana Pools. Together they created what is known today as Bushlife Safaris in Mana Pools National Park, one of the most beautiful national parks in Africa. Nick is well respected in the industry for his wealth of knowledge. He is a qualified Zimbabwean Professional Guide, one of the most prestigious game-guiding qualifications in Africa. His speciality is walking safaris, which offer a very unique experience compared to the traditional safari. Due to his deep knowledge and familiarity with the painted wolf packs of Mana Pools, going on a Bushlife Safaris walking safari to see them will be an unforgettable experience.
Nick was the lead guide on the acclaimed series BBC Earth Dynasties for the Painted Wolf episode. Nick has been following and tracking the painted wolves of Mana Pools for over a decade. Indeed it was the long-term knowledge of them which lead to the BBC Earth crew picking Vundu Camp as the base for the episode. Nick knew Tait, the star of the Dynasties story, her whole life. As described by Nick Lyon, the episode producer, “Our guide, Nick Murray, has known Tait her whole life. She was incredibly trusting of him. The fact that it was Nick who introduced us to Tait transferred her trust for Nick to us.”
An immersive wildlife experience
There’s nothing like your first encounter with a pack of painted wolves on foot: the excitement, fear and thrill of this incredible experience is much more memorable than a game drive where you simply tick off the big five! Escaping the confines of your 4×4 and exploring the bush on foot opens a whole new world to what safari is all about.
It gives one a new perspective of wildlife, as you, yourself, become part of it. You realise how much work it is just to stay alive in the bush, and you can feel how vulnerable animals further down the food chain feel. At any given moment they, or you, could become prey, which gives you a new sense of respect.
If you are considering a safari to Africa and would like to see the wild dogs, the denning season is usually between May and June. If you do come on an early-season safari, you might get to see the new puppies. However please note at Bushlife Safaris we are very careful not to disturb them during this precious time and do not go too close to the den but always maintain a respectful distance.
Client Review of Wild Dog Walking Safari
“We were very fortunate to see the Vundu pack of Painted Wolves on two occasions. This was primarily due to the exceptional efforts of the Vundu guides.
Our visit was at the den site. We sat at a distance and watch the 10 adults begin to become active as the sun was setting. We were able to watch their greeting behaviour and then began to get ready to hunt. We saw the tip of one pups head but the pups appeared to be seated very close to the den.
We tried to pick the hunt up in the open plains closer to the river. Unfortunately, it was to no avail with only one vehicle and night approaching. The next morning brought about some concern as the den had been abandoned and there were fresh Hyena tracks in the area. This brought about a day of stress for the guides and clients with concern for the dogs.
The third day brought relief due to the exceptional efforts of Vundu guide Jim. He took his guest to three empty dens before finally locating the 10 adults and 5 pups on their first day out of the den. This was a magical experience. We sat with dogs for two hours in the morning. They were generally very relaxed and enjoying the shade of a tree.
We returned in the late afternoon to sleeping dogs. We settled in on the ground and watched as the temperatures cooled and the adults became active. We observed some amazing greeting behaviour. A scrum of 10 dogs flying in the air and rolling over each other. Speechless!
Finally, the pups came out from under the tree and our small group was able to take the first photos of the newest Dynasty of these amazing Painted Wolves. We then saw the adult dogs take off after an impala. The Chase ended quickly. The guides consensus was that they did not want to chase too far off from the unprotected pups. Lucky Impala.”
Learn more about the Lycaon Pictus
This is a species that has almost too many common names to count. Its Latin name – “Lycaon pictus” – means painted wolf. They share a common ancestor with the wolf but are not descended from them.