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    Prayer flags and the Indus River @ Aditya Singh
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    Snow Leopard @ Aditya Singh
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    Indus River enroute to Hemis @ Aditya Singh
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    Red Fox @Aditya Singh
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    Bharal or Blue Sheep is the main prey of the Snow Leopard @ Aditya Singh
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    Campsite near the Rumbak gorge @Aditya Singh
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    Wolly Hare @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
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    Frozen Rumbak gorge @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
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    Hemis in undoubtedly the best place to see Snow Leopards @ Dhritiman Mukherjee
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    Chukar @ Aditya Singh
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Snow Leopard Winter Quest

Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir

Highlights: Staying in tents in extreme weather conditions, spot the Snow Leopard at Hemis National Park and exotic Himalayan wildlife like the Tibetan Argali, the largest sheep in the world, the rare Eurasian Lynx, Tibetan Wolf and the Ladakh Urial or Red Deer, besides lesser mammals and birds

We fly from Delhi to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, situated at a height of 3500m with the stunning 16th century palace as its backdrop. The altitudinal gain from Delhi requires mandatory acclimatization for two nights to allow us to adapt to the height. We will however use this time to explore some monasteries around Leh and also bird around the Indus River before heading out to Hemis National Park in our quest for the Snow Leopard. Given the recent spate of sightings in the past few years, the area around the Rumbak catchment has proved itself as the best place in the world to sight these near mythical cats.

Since Snow Leopards are generally found at elevations between 3350-6500m, this epic adventure takes us through stunning Himalayan alpine and sub-alpine zones where vegetation is sparse and temperatures are extreme. Accompanying us are expert local guides whose expertise in this harsh terrain and their intrinsic training to look for the minutest evidences like pugmarks, scrapes and scats to track this elusive cat, is unmatched. While we are in the lookout for the cat, we will have opportunities to observe and photograph the other mammals that inhabit these mountains. The Bharal or Blue Sheep is the most common of all ungulates here and rather tame in these parts. The Tibetan Argali, the largest sheep in the world is found near Gandala Pass (5000 m) and those bold enough to make this hike (depending on snow conditions) may be rewarded with sightings of the extremely rare Eurasian Lynx. The Ladakh Urial or the Red Deer is found in fragmented habitats before we approach Zinchen but absent in the Rumbak valley. The Tibetan Wolf is a strong possibility as well as lesser mammals such as the Stone Marten, Red Fox, Royle’s Pika, Mountain Weasel and Wolly Hare.

The birdlife is scarce in this harsh environment. Golden Eagle, Lammergeier and Himalayan Vulture are the common raptors along with Northern Goshwak, Upland & Himalayan Buzzard, Eurasian Sparrowhawk & Saker Falcon. Both Red and Yellow billed Choughs, White winged Redstarts, Hill Pigeons and Chukars are abundant all along, Snow Pigeons are occasionally seen usually near the Rumbak village. The scrubs hold good numbers of Robin Accentors along with White browed Tit Warbler, occasional Brown Accentors & the Eurasian Wren. The huge Himalayan Snowcock can be seen in the meadows, sometimes in groups of 12-15 birds. Other species include the Brown and White throated Dipper, Blue Rock Thrush, Tibetan Snow Finch, Horned Lark, Fire fronted Serin, Streaked Rosefinch, Plain and Brandt’s Mountain Finch and the enigmatic Wallcreeper.

Write in to us for a detailed itinerary and quote @ wwi@wildworldindia.com

Fact Sheet
  • Region: Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir
  • Duration: 14 Days/13 Nights tour by road, air and on foot
  • Areas covered: Delhi, Leh, Hemis & Ulley
  • Departures: Nov – March

Travel Itinerary

Day 1 – Fly Delhi to Leh Early morning transfer to Delhi airport to board the flight to Leh, keeping our cameras handy for some stunning views of the Himalayas. Arrive at Leh Airport and drive to the hotel, which offers panoramic views of the Zanskar range of mountains. Afternoon we have the option to walk down to Leh Bazaar. Though many of the shops are closed during winters, the streets are still busy with local women selling vegetables, a scarce commodity in winters and dried apricots amongst other fruits. If our visit coincides with one of the many Ladakhi colourful festivals, we are in for of some excellent photo opportunities. Overnight at Mahey Retreat or similar hotel
Day 2 – Leh After breakfast at the hotel grounds overlooking the Zanskar range of mountains, we will drive out to explore Leh and surrounding areas, visiting Thiksey monastery & Leh Palace. Later we bird around the Indus river and surrounding marshes looking for the Ibisbill which breed here and the Eastern Solitary Snipe amongst more common species like the White-winged Redstart, Common Greenshank, Marsh and Green Sandpiper, Ferruginous Duck, Common Goldeneye and Common Snipe. Overnight at Mahey Retreat or similar hotel
Day 3 – Leh to Zinchen and Hemis National Park The real action starts today! This morning we drive to Zingchen – the gateway to Hemis Park, crossing the Indus River over a bridge covered with Buddhist prayer flags. We will stop to scan the river for another chance at the Ibisbill. Closer to Zinchen we will keep a look out for the endemic Ladakh Urials or Red Deer. Arriving at Zinchen, the last motor-able point we start our hike through the Husing Nallah towards our campsite while our luggage is carried by mules. After settling in our camp and a hot lunch we climb one of the ridges to scan the surrounding areas for any signs of wildlife. Overnight in Tented Camp
Day 4 – 11 – Hemis National Park The next eight days would be spent scanning the valleys of Husing, Tarbung and Rumbak from dawn to dusk with the primary objective of sighting Snow Leopards. Each morning our local trackers head out in the surrounding valleys and any signs of the cat movement are reported back to camp. Based on these inputs we would plan our day’s schedule. Like the weather in these parts, plans too can change rather fast depending on wildlife activity. During these days we will not follow a fixed plan but keep it as flexible with the sole aim of maximizing our chances of sighting Snow Leopards. During the course of our days spent here we will also walk to the small village of Rumbak through some stunning landscapes. Overnight in Tented Camp
DAY 12 – Hemis – Ulley If we have had luck with our Snow Leopard sightings during our time spent here, we have the option to drive to the quaint village of Ulley and spend a night at a homestay. While Ulley has a good breeding population of Snow Leopards and we have had great sightings here in some of our earlier trips, the main attraction to undertake this journey is to add the Asiatic Ibex to our list of mammals. This would also add to better opportunity of seeing Ladakh Urials and Tibetan Wolves in the limited time we spend here. Staying at the local heated house and enjoying the warm Ladakhi hospitality would be a welcome break from our tents! Overnight at Homestay

Day 13 – Drive Ulley to Leh  We have the day to explore the surroundings valleys at Ulley. Later in the afternoon drive to Leh.
Day 14 – Fly Leh to Delhi We wake up early and drive to Leh to board our flight to Delhi. Arrive Delhi and transfer to your hotel. For those spending the day at Delhi we could plan a visit to Sultanpur Bird Sanctuary or explore Old Delhi, a perfect way to end this epic adventure.