Snow Leopard or the Shan as its called in Ladakhi is probably the most enigmatic big cat, probably even more than the Tiger. The…
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Snow Leopard or the Shan as its called in Ladakhi is probably the most enigmatic big cat, probably even more than the Tiger. The fact that it is beautiful, lives in such an inhospitable environment and is endangered adds to the allure of sighting of this incredible beast.
Here is an opportunity to do something more intrepid than sitting in a safari jeep and mobbing a tiger in a national park. Trek up in the winter in Ladakh, face the raw elements to get an exhilarating sighting of this secretive cat. Pack and get ready and head for Hemis National Park the northernmost national park in the country and the largest.
We would not just be hoping to see the Snow Leopard but also the elusive Lynx, Ibex, Urial, Argali, Tibetan Wolf, Brown bear, Pallas’s cat, Weasels, Stoats among others.
Golden Eagles, Lammergeiers, Snowcocks and Wallcreepers should keep the birdwatcher in you happy.
The impossibly beautiful snowscapes in rugged terrain would keep the landscape photographer in you busy
Come and join us on this mother of all wildlife tours..
The snow-clad ranges and hostile slopes of the Himalayas have mesmerized man for centuries. Few have tried to conquer the heights, even fewer have succeeded and most of the areas of these enthralling mountains remain unexplored. Even more mystifying are the treasures of the living world that these mountains house. The strikingly beautiful Snow Leopard is one of the most mysterious cats in the world, seldom glimpsed in the wild. These endangered species are one of the rarest living cats and are as beautiful as they are enigmatic. With their thick coats and furry tails and paws, these tough cliff-dwelling predators have withstood a struggle against the changing environment. This winter, we set off on a quest to find this elusive creature in its own world, a world few humans have dared to visit.
On our quest, we hike through the Rumbak valley, in Hemis High Altitude National Park (HNP), discovering the stark beauty of Ladakh. The scarce sub-alpine vegetation also houses the Asiatic Ibex, the Eurasian Lynx, the Tibetan Wolf, and the Blue-sheep, the Ladakh Urial, the Red Fox and other smaller mammals like Mountain Weasel, Woolly Hare, and Pika that we hope to spot. With captivating locations and the possibility of spotting the almost mythical creature, the ‘The Grey Ghost of the Mountains’, the Snow Leopard Quest is an experience beyond words, beyond wild.
Date : February 10, 2021
Arrival & acclimatizingArrive Leh. Flying directly to 11500 feet can cause lots of physiological changes in the body. Properly acclimatizing is of paramount importance. We will spend the day getting used to the air pressure, altitude. This involves some rest, gentle walking and of course lots of water. In the evening, we will go our for a short stroll in the Leh market, visit the iconic Shanti Stupa and just take in the vibe of this incredible mountain town. B, L, D.
Date : February 11, 2021
Shey & IndusToday, we venture out of town and get more used to the altitude. We will visit the Shey marshes near the Shey palace and do some high altitude birding. The area is a must for any birdwatcher in Ladakh, and can be reached by following the river upstream from the bridge at Choglamsar, 7 km east of Leh. Explore the wetlands and riverbanks along the Indus, including the thick buckthorn patches, the shoreline and grazing land. These areas are excellent for many species including Ibisbill, Eurasian Magpie, Cinereous Tit, Solitary Snipe, Upland Buzzard, Eurasian Hawk, White- winged Redstart, Red-billed Chough, etc.. Post this, we will also visit the Hemis and Thiksey monasteries and reach Leh by late evening for a sumptuous hot lunch. Tonight, we will pack our bags, charge our batteries and be ready for the D-day! B, L, D.
Date : February 12, 2021
ZingchenToday, we leave at 8 am and drive the 1 hour drive to Zingchen. Zingchen is the entry into Hemis. We leave our vehicles at Zingchen and start the hike to Husing. This is a beautiful 4-5 km hike through the Rumbak Stream Gorge which is gently uphill, on a paved rough motor road. The bags would go on the ponies. On this trail, we will try for the Blue-sheep, Pika, Red Fox, Woolly Hare and of course keep a watchful eye on signs of the big cat! This trail is also important for Lammergeiers and Golden Eagles. Our trackers and guides will try their level best for a fabulous start. Meanwhile, Rumbak Sumdo camp would be ready and you will be welcomed with hot tea / soup. This is followed by tent allotment, freshening up and hot lunch. After lunch, we will go up to the spotting site, a small plateau which offers good views of the valleys and the mountains surrounding it. Many snow leopards are regularly spotted here. Our trackers would be on it! After a late evening session, we return to the campsite. B, L, D.
Rumbak SumdoWe would camp for a week at Rumbak Sumdo Camping site, bellow the Rumbak village. Every morning, before dawn, our trackers would set out to see movements of the snow leopard. These cats are mostly active during night and at dawn/dusk. Signs of any pugmarks, scar marks, mating calls as they will start mating in Feb/March wont be missed by our guides. In the meantime, the spotting scopes would be at work from vantage points around the camp. After 2-3 hours of tracking, all the trackers from all groups usually meet back at camp for sharing of information and tracks. Taking this as a lead and after a heavy breakfast, all of us set out into the valley where we think the chances are high. We will try out different valleys and look for movements of the cat on ridges. The trackers will keep a watchful eye on the activities of the Blue-sheep, the cat’s prey, as the snow leopards always follow them. Many of our snow leopards have been spotted while stalking for Blue-sheeps. We will spend the day in the field, where we will also get our packed lunch (hot). Helper would frequent the spotting sites with hot tea/coffee with biscuits before and after the lunch. Evenings would again be very productive. Most resting snow leopards start moving at evening. These are most conspicuous only when they are moving, such is the beauty of their camouflage... We will keep on checking the cliff edges as they like to walk on them, thus giving them a good view on both sides, thus maximizing their chances of securing a prey. The snow leopards would also be mating then, hence the mating calls would help us track movements of females and males towards each other. After a hopefully fruitful day in the wild, we return to our warm campsite for a hot lunch, stories and early sleep. B, L, D.
UlleyToday, after one final search in Rumbak Valley, we set out to Zingchen. After walking for 1-2 hours, we take the vehicle to drive to Ulley (around 2 and half hours). This scenic drive along the Indus would take you into the heart of western Ladakh, the wild and barren Ladakh. The plains on the way are excellent grounds for Ladakh Urial, Red Fox and Tibetan Wolf, etc. After reaching Ulley, we check into our homestays and start the tracking after lunch. This region has 10-12 cats which are very vocal during the winter months. Guide and spotter keep scaning around the village. At times, they come near the villages to steal sheep and yaks. We also drive to Hemis Shukpachan for the purpose. Many snow leopards have been spotted near shephard homes too. After 2 enjoyable days in Ulley, we finally set of for our final evening hike on Day 12: B, L, D.
Date : February 21, 2021
Ulley - LehAfter a morning session of birding, snow leopard tracking and calling our wonderful team a goodbye, we return back to Leh. We will have a gala dinner in the evening and just relive the awesome moments spent in the mountains... B, L, D.
Date : February 22, 2021
Your PlanDeparture from Leh Drop at Leh Airport with See Off.
- Airport assistance at Leh-pickup and drop.
- 3 nights Hotel in Leh at centrally heated hotel.
- 7 Nights of camping in alpine-grade tents, 1person to a tent.
- Meals as mentioned in the itinerary as B,L,D (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D= Dinner).
- Local transports by Taxi Innova / Scorpio.
- Expert Guide, Cooks, Helpers and ponies for luggage transport.
- Single-member tents, kitchen tent, dining tent, warm sleeping bags, and all other camping equipment mentioned.
- Services of 1 cook, 2 snow leopard trackers (including the guide).
- Hemis National Park entrance fees/ Camping fees.
- One Group Leader complimentary above 5 pax.
- Transports within Leh Ladakh by Taxis as per itinerary.
- One Spotting Scope and a pair of binocs with the guide for the group.
- Camping Gear Transportation by separate Camper and Ponies.
1. Camera fees.
2. Any extra meals not mentioned in the itinerary/ drinks.
3. Any personal expenses such as laundry, telephone, Internet services, personal porter for luggage / camera, etc.
4. Any kind of loss/theft of personal belongings.
5. Cost incidental of any changes in the itinerary.
6. Extra night stays and services on account of flight cancellation due to bad weather or other reasons.
7. Personal porter /helper for camera, etc. (Rs. 3000/day including stay and food)
8. Extra costs due to ill health, road blockage and any factor beyond our control.
9. Tips gratuities given to drivers/ guides, restaurant waiters etc.