TRACKING SNOW LEOPARD IN THE INDIAN HIMALAYAS

Found only in remote mountainous areas of Asia, tracking the enigmatic snow leopard in the depths of winter is a genuine wildlife adventure

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Where
INDIA
When
DECEMBER TO MARCH
How long
10 NIGHTS
How much
4895
why
EPIC WILDLIFE ADVENTURE; MOUNTAIN WILDERNESS; OFF THE BEATEN TRACK; WALKING
staying in
HOMESTAYS & AUTHENTIC LODGES

Arriving in Leh (3500m), the capital of the former Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh, on the hour long flight from Delhi, the rarefied high altitude air hits you as you stop off the plane.

The sky is cobalt blue, the surrounding mountains blanketed with snow and the mercury hovers around freezing. Most visitors come to Ladakh in its short summer months when nature bursts into life, but the winter is the best time to try and spot snow leopard.

Based at a homestay or simple lodge daily exploration of the area by vehicle and on foot with your guide, and interacting closely with local people for the latest intelligence, the search for snow leopard begins. Although not covering ground as in a conventional trek, hiking on rough terrain, often in snow, at high altitude is physically demanding, but you choose how much to do.

Sharing this harsh environment argali, ibex, woolly hare and Himalayan Vulture may soon reveal themselves but the snow leopard is known as the Ghost of the Himalaya for good reason. The enigmatic cat is solitary by nature, as shy as it is rare and impeccably camouflaged. Its elusiveness in this vast wilderness can vex their seekers and sightings are not guaranteed, or may be through a spotting scope, but this adventure is one that it truly all about the journey.

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DAYS 1 - 3

ARRIVE IN LEH, LADAKH

After a night in Delhi, a short early morning flight brings you to Leh in the heart of Ladakh. At 3500m above sea level a couple of days here, surrounded by high mountain ranges, gives you the necessary time to acclimatise to the high altitude while making gentle exploration of ancient Buddhist monasteries.  

Photo credit: Angus Fraser 

DAYS 4 - 9

IN SEARCH OF SNOW LEOPARD

Driving west, following the Indus River you will reach wilder, remote valleys and snow leopard country. Your guide will already be on the look out, scanning the hill sides and skyline for any silhouette. It's one of the best areas to see ibex, as well as red fox and wolf, as well as bearded Himlayan griffon and bearded vulture soaring above the plunging cliffs. 


Photo credit: Angus Fraser 

DAYS 4 - 9

ON TOP OF THE WORLD

Staying in relative comfort, without having to deal with the exhausting issues of camping in the intense cold aggravated by high altitude, you will venture out from your simple lodge or homestay into the snow each day. Starting out by vehicle you will continue on foot to vantage points and possible siting areas - the amount of walking you do can be adjusted to suit your capabilities. 

DAYS 4 - 9

A WILDLIFE ADVENTURE

The trackers and spotters are exceptional, interacting closely with the local people and using their network of local intelligence to narrow down the likely sites for snow leopard movement. While there is a realistic chance of spotting one, it must be regarded as a great privilege to even catch a glimpse of a snow leopard. They are wild and by necessity elusive creatures with no fixed routine and finding them requires not only the skill and patience of trackers and guides but also considerable luck!

DAY 10

DEPARTURE FROM LEH

We work closely with the Snow Leopard Conservancy which engages with  local communities in the Himalayas to secure Snow Leopard habitat; you will have the opportunity to witness their work first hand in Ladakh. Before flying back to Delhi and returning home, we encourage everyone to make a contribution of USD 200 per person.

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Our experienced travellers include:

Vanessa Janion
Vanessa Janion
Olly Williams
Olly Williams
Catherine Ronan
Catherine Ronan

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary.

All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.

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