In Search of the Snow Leopard

Tracking and photographing high-altitude mammals and their predators
Overview

overview

Snow Leopards are rare throughout their range in the Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau.  Hunting sparse game over large territories of very rugged terrain, it is difficult to predict or plan to see a Snow Leopard in the wild and there are never guarantees. However, JOURNEYS senior naturalist-guide Avi Sarkhel has been monitoring a particular Snow Leopard population in Ladakh which he has  been able to relocate on frequent occasions. Observing and photographing these Snow Leopards of Ladakh will be the main goal of this trip.  Certainly you will also see other mammals and birds, as well; and each evening you'll enjoy the traditional Ladakhi hospitality for which this Buddhist area of the Himalayas is noted.  Several nights will be spent in tents, and temperatures may go down to 5 degrees fahrenheit. You may hike higher than 13,000’ after acclimatizing in the Indus and Zanskar Valleys at 11,000’.  In the past, the Snow Leopards have been observed both close to the villages where you will stay and in more remote areas accessed by full days of vigorous hiking, sometimes through snow.

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Delhi

    Arrive at Delhi International Airport, where your guide will meet you. Transfer to hotel.

     

    Meals
    Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Shanti Home Stay (or similar)
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  • Day 2: Leh
    The ruined Royal Palace at Leh.

    Your guide will transfer you to the airport early in the morning for your flight to Leh. On arrival, meet your crew and drive to the Snow View Hotel. The rest of the day is free in order to acclimatize. Share a meal with your guide in the evening.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Snow View Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Leh

    If you're up for it, tour the Shey and Thikshey monasteries. Explore one of the palaces, Stok or Leh. Those who don't tour in the morning will tour in the afternoon, while the morning group rests.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Snow View Hotel (or similar)
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Leh/Uley Village
    A Ladakh urial near Uley Village.

    Drive to Likir via Nimu and Bazgo. Stop at the Likir Monastery along the way, picturesquely situated in a valley near the Indus River. Continue on to Uley Village in the Sham Valley. Keep an eye out for snow leopards which have been spotted in this area. You may also see other animals, such as blue sheep, blue rock thrush, Ladakh urial, and yellow billed chough. Here you will camp for five nights.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Tented Camp
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Uley Village
    The mountains contain clues that point in the direction of the elusive snow leopard.

    Your expert guide will take you down the trails frequented by the elusive snow leopard, and will teach you the art of tracking these big cats. You may be lucky and see one on your first day! The excursion will last 3-4 hours.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Tented Camp
    Show on a map
  • Days 6-8: Uley Village/Walking Explorations

    Explore nearby areas for signs of the snow leopard, primarily following a trail. Scan the surrounding ridges for scat droppings, spray marks, or any other indication of their presence.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Tented Camp
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Rumbak
    Enjoy the rustic camping

    Drive back to Leh, where you will have breakfast before driving to Zingchan. Make the soft trek to your next base village, Husing (3 hrs. and 30 mins. from Rumbak). Husing is located at the intersection of three valleys known for snow leopard sightings. The staff will set up camp. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Tented Camp
  • Days 10-12: Rumbak

    Embark on day excursions to nearby valleys behind Husing and Rumbak. Also, traverse the other two valleys, Tarbung and Kharlung. Scan the trails and natural habitat frequented by the snow leopard. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Tented Camp
  • Day 13: Rumbak Doh Village
    A Ladakhi man at a market in Leh (photo by Avijit Sarkhel)

    Trek for one hour toward the upper Rumbak Valley to a village called "Rumbak Doh," where you will stay in local village houses during your search for the big cats. This is a unique opportunity to live with and learn about the culture of the Ladakhi people. In staying with the local people, you will be generating income for them. Your accommodations will be clean, comfortable, furnished in traditional Ladakhi furniture, lit by candles or solar light, and contain a western composting toilet.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Village Houses
    Show on a map
  • Day 14: Rumbak Doh

    Follow the trail toward the base of Ganda La until you come upon the small village of Yurutse (a single housed village). There is a good chance of seeing the seriously threatened Tibetan argali here, the largest species of wild sheep.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Village Houses
    Show on a map
  • Day 15: Leh
    Bask in the spectacular scenery

    Trek back from Rumbak Doh to Zingchan, from which point you will drive to Leh. The rest of the day is yours to relax and celebrate the trip, whether you spotted the snow leopard or not.

    Meals
    Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Snow View Hotel (or similar)
  • Day 16: Delhi

    Depart in a private vehicle to the airport, where you will catch your plane to Delhi. The flight offers spectacular views of the second highest peak on earth, K2. Upon arrival in Delhi, you will be met at the airport and taken to the hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Shanti House (or similar)
  • Day 17: Delhi

    This day is a buffer in case you lose a day due to weather. If all has gone as planned, tour Delhi or go for a short birding tour in Okhla, a neighborhood in the South Delhi district.

    Meals
    Lunch, Dinner
    Show on a map
  • Day 18: Depart Delhi

    Drive to the airport and catch your flight home.

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Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Jan 30-Feb 16, 2015
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$4,950
group size 3-5 add $200
Single Supplement:
$725
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Duration:
18 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
1
Group Size:
6-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
5

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

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