Seeking The Snow Leopards Of Ladakh

13 Days from £3495 per adult. Prices based on flight fares at the time of costing & may vary. Please ask for a definitive quote
13 Days
Group Tour
Big Cat Safari
Off The Beaten Track

The snow leopard, locally known as shan or the ghost of the Himalayas, is one of the world’s rarest, least seen and most exciting big cats.  Primarily an opportunistic hunter, snow leopards can leap up to 50 feet high and are able to kill and carry up to three times their body weight.  They are typically found in the high mountain ranges of Central and South Asia and are an endangered species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. They are particularly difficult to see in the wild because of the remote and rugged terrain and the excellently camouflaged coat.

In recent years, the Ladakh area of the Indian Himalayas has emerged as one of the best areas in the world to see this most elusive of big cats, with past trips typically involving camping in the high mountains valleys and searching one locality for the snow leopards.  What makes this tour different is that we spread our search over two different snow leopard habitats: The Hemis National Park and the Ule Valley thus increasing the chance of an encounter.  In addition, rather than camping, we stay with local families (home stays) meaning heated rooms, home-cooked food and the opportunity to meet some of Ladakh’s fascinating and friendly people. This is the time of year that snow leopards prey on local livestock, so your stay will also help reimburse families for their losses and reduce reprisals against the snow leopards.

Ladakh is also home to other lesser known species including Tibetan wolf, Tibetan red fox, Eurasian lynx, argali (great Tibetan sheep), bharal (blue sheep), shapu (Ladakhi urial) and ibex. There are also some spectacular birds including the ibisbill, lammergeier (bearded vulture), Himalayan griffon vulture, golden eagle and Himalayan and Tibetan snowcocks.

Please note that whilst every effort has been made to make this trip as comfortable as we can, you will still be trekking at high altitude (over 4,000 metres/13,000 feet) and in the middle of the Himalayan winter.  Night time temperatures can drop below -25C and day time temperatures often remain below freezing.  You should come dressed for some very cold weather and expect to spend many hours a day searching the mountainsides by binocular and telescope.  With a lot of effort and a little luck we have a good chance of spotting this most elusive of big cats.

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Itinerary

Price from £3495 per adult. Based on sharing double / twin rooms

Day 1 - London

Depart London.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Day 2 - Delhi

Met and transfer to the hotel. Free day at leisure or OPTIONAL city tour.

Staying at Lemon Tree Hotel. Includes In-flight Meals.

Day 3 - Leh

Private transfer to Delhi Airport and meet with the rest of the group. Fly to Leh.

At an altitude of 3,500m (11,500ft) Leh is the capital of the Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh and the starting point for much of the trekking done in the Indian Himalayas. You will have the rest of the day free to relax and adjust to the altitude and climate. A visit to a local market will be offered in the evening.

Staying at Mahey Retreat. Includes All Meals.

Day 4 - Leh

Another day for acclimatisation and sightseeing. Visit the Thiksey Monastery, Stock Place, Hemis Monastery and the village of Shang Shumdo. This area is excellent for birding and you will enjoy a short (60 minutes) trek with a local birding guide where sightings may include the peculiar ibisbill and red fronted serin.

Staying at Mahey Retreat. Includes All Meals.

Day 5 - Ule

Today, we will have our first attempt at finding snow leopard as we drive to the small Himalayan area of Ule. En route, we will stop at the frozen river of Chadar which is used by the locals to travel to the Zanskari villages. In the afternoon, we will search the Ule Valley for snow leopards as well as urial, agrali and Tibetan wolf.

Staying at Ule Homestay. Includes All Meals.

Day 6 - Leh

Another morning spent looking for snow leopards and other wildlife in the Ule Valley. Drive back to Leh in the afternoon.

Staying at Mahey Retreat. Includes All Meals.

Day 7 - Hemis National Park

Today, our snow leopard search will begin in earnest as we drive to the village of ZINGCHEN and trek (5-6 hours, elevation 12,400ft, graded easy) through the HEMIS NATIONAL PARK and the RUMBAK VALLEY looking for snow leopards as we go. Keep your senses sharp and look out amidst the cliffs and at the base of rocks where they mark their turf.

Staying at Rumbak Homestay. Includes All Meals.

Day 8 - Hemis National Park

Trek the RUMBAK VALLEY in search of snow leopards. Snow leopards naturally predate on wild bharal (blue sheep) or ibex (mountain goats). However they have been known to kill domestic animals including goat and sheep.

Staying at Rumbak Homestay. Includes All Meals.

Day 9 - Hemis National Park

Another day searching for snow leopards and other wildlife. Depending on recent sightings we may today head to the TURHAN VALLEY, another prime place to spot the elusive cat.

Staying at Rumbak Homestay. Includes All Meals.

Day 10 - Hemis National Park

Today we will continue our search for snow leopards by heading to URUTSE (13500ft) and the GANDALA PASS which is also known for its ibex and lynx sightings.

Staying at Urutse Homestay. Includes All Meals.

Day 11 - Leh

Today we will trek back (approx. five hours) past snow leopard haunts and piles of carved Tibetan prayer stones to ZINGCHEN and drive back to LEH. After a much deserved shower, it is time to relax, order a drink and enjoy the last of the gorgeous and peaceful Himalayan scenery. Farewell dinner and overnight.

Staying at Mahey Retreat. Includes All Meals.

Day 12 - Delhi

Fly back to Delhi and overnight at your hotel.

Staying at Lemon Tree Hotel. Includes Breakfast.

Day 13 - London

Fly back to London.

Includes In-flight Meals.

Travel Info

Are Flights Included?
Yes

Flight Info:
British Airways direct from London.

Area Specialist

Jonathan Morris
specialist_jon-morris

Add an extension to one of central India’s tiger reserves for a little warmth before flying home. As well as tigers, you can hope to add leopards, sloth bears and wild dog to your list of sightings.

If you have any queries about this tour please feel free to call me directly on +44 (0)1803 866965 or...

Download PDF

Download the full details of this itinerary and start planning your trip today. Download File

Perfection as always. Thank you for a well thought out, prepared and an excellent holiday.

Dr F W - Buckinghamshire

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Lemon Tree: 28.552131, 77.120763
Mahey Retreat: 34.142712, 77.546712
Ladakh Homestays: 33.756324, 77.283272