The Lions have not yet made a formal approach for Gatland
Wales coach Warren Gatland says he has spoken to Lions coach Ian McGeechan about a role on next year's tour and is now waiting for an official approach.
Gatland and backroom staff Rob Howley and Shaun Edwards are among the names being touted for the South Africa trip.
He told Scrum V: "I've had a talk with Ian McGeechan, expressing an interest.
"The process after that is a formal approach from the Lions to the Welsh Rugby Union. I don't think they've done that yet."
The New Zealander added: "The first steps are under way in terms of the process but there's a few more before it's actually finalised.
"It's a great honour and I'd love to have that opportunity."
WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis has already given his personal backing for Gatland to go on tour.
And Gatland has also dismissed fears of a repeat of Graham Henry's tenure.
When Henry was coaching Wales, he was also appointed head coach of the Lions tour in 2001.
After a 2-1 series defeat, it is said his relationship with the Welsh players deteriorated.
"I know there's been a bit of criticism with Graham Henry in terms of his involvement," said Gatland.
"But I've spoken to Ian McGeechan and he said his involvement with the Lions while coaching Scotland was a real positive.
"It's a great opportunity to tour with one of the real icons of rugby in terms of the Lions and for me it would be a great highlight."
But he added the running of the Wales side who are due to tour North America around the same time has to be in place.
Blues coach Dai Young has already ruled himself out of a caretaker role.
"The Blues is my job and I certainly wouldn't risk affecting that job by being on the Wales tour," he said.
"I wouldn't do anything to risk the support of the players here towards myself."