India: In Search of the Snow Leopard

India: In Search of the Snow Leopard

  • Next tour dates CONTACT US 
  • Duration 12 days
  • Lodging 3 star-Camping
  • Difficulty Medium to Strenuous
  • Group size Max. 8 people
  • Price USD $TBD per person*

Overview

A journey in search of Snow Leopards requires patience, perseverance, a sense of adventure, and acceptance of what the wilderness has to offer. The Snow Leopard is a secretive creature that inhabits expansive, rugged terrain in one of the harshest environments on the planet. Very few people have the chance to observe this animal in the wild, especially in a relatively short period of time – the lucky ones might merely catch glimpses of its shadowy figure as it passes swiftly by on silent feet.

However, the search in and of itself and spending time in the harsh beauty of the landscape is an opportunity few people are afforded. The journey alone is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and the intrepid will be rewarded with chances to see a variety of interesting and rare wildlife and take stunning photographs while surrounded by breath-taking scenery.

Lest we forget, there are also human inhabitants in these rugged mountains. Their culture is steeped in traditional Buddhist practices and this Snow Leopard Tour will include visits to some of their magnificent monasteries and picturesque villages.

Itinerary

DAY 1: NEW DELHI

Welcome to India! Our Snow Leopard tour begins in New Delhi. At your arrival, you will be met at the Delhi international airport for transfer to the hotel. Orientation and dinner. Overnight Delhi.

DAY 2: TRANSFER TO LEH, LADAKH

Today we will catch our flight to Leh, Ladakh. Exact arrival time to be determined by flight schedule closer to tour date.  Assistance on arrival at the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport and transfer to your hotel. There will be no planned activity on this day.  It is very important to relax and undergo as little exertion as possible.  This will help you get acclimatized to this high-altitude region of the high Himalayan plateau.This evening we will have a short orientation and enjoy our first dinner together. Overnight in Leh.

Spituk Monastery, Ladakh

DAY 3: LEH & MONASTERIES

Including another day to acclimatize fully, we will enjoy a leisurely breakfast, we will visit the picturesque Thiksey Monastery, located on a hill-lock with formidable views of the Indus Valley.  Thiksey is especially noteworthy for its gigantic seated statue of the Maitreya and is also known for its Dukhang, assembly hall, which houses hundreds of rectangular prayer books stacked between wooden covers and bound in silk. As time permits, there may be a chance to visit the Stakna or Spituk Monastery and do some birding in town. Overnight in Leh.

DAY 4-9: HEMIS NATIONAL PARK

On the morning of Day 4, we will make our way to Hemis National Park, one of India’s largest national parks and an important refuge for the Snow Leopard. Upon our arrival, we will be met by our support staff, which includes our cook and his assistant, the camp manager, and our trackers. Over the next six days, we must be prepared for anything. At times we might camp, at other times we might spend the night in a local homestay. Our movements, where we go, and how long we stay will be based on where the best potential snow leopard sightings appear to be. Please remember, lodging/camping can be very rustic. No showers are available and bathroom facilities mostly consist of outhouses. Apart from our search for Snow Leopards, we will search for other local wildlife, as well as photographic opportunities of the amazing landscape.

Hozing ValleyRumbak ValleyUlley, and Shang Valleys are some of the areas that are good for spotting this elusive cat. These areas offer good winter grazing for Blue Sheep, also known as Bharal– a delicacy for this wild feline! Other wildlife we will keep our eyes open for include wolvesfoxesGolden EaglesEurasian SparrowhawkEurasian KestrelBearded and Himalayan vulturesTibetan Hare and PikaTibetan and Himalayan snowcocks and Chukar Partridge, among others.

Lammergeier
Lammergeier

DAY 10: LEH

We will enjoy one more early morning in Hemis National Park taking in the beautiful scenery and soaking in the atmosphere, and, of course, continuing to search for wildlife. After breakfast, we will return to Leh for some more photography and birding opportunities. If time permits, we will tour through the ancient bazaar and alleys of Leh Town, where locally made crafts including natural soaps, jewelry, silk scarves, incense, Tibetan singing bowls, prayer flags, foods and even household items can be found. Overnight Leh.

DAY 11: LEH to  NEW DELHI

After breakfast, we will transfer you to the airport in Leh for your flight to New Delhi. We will check into the hotel and you will have free time to relax or explore the city. We will have our final dinner of the tour. Overnight in Delhi.

DAY 12: DEPARTURE

After breakfast, our Snow Leopard tour will conclude. We will transfer you to the Indira Gandhi International Airport for your flight home, or the hotel of your choice within New Delhi, for those continuing their adventure in India on their own.

Species

BIRDS

  • Bearded Vulture
  • Himalayan Griffon
  • Upland Buzzard
  • Golden Eagle
  • Chukar Partridge
  • Himalayan Snowcock
  • Hill Pigeon
  • Snow Pigeon
  • Wallcreeper
  • Red-billed Chough
  • Yellow-billed Chough
  • Black-throated Thrush
  • Guldenstadt’s Redstart
  • Brown Dipper
  • Tibetan Snowfinch
  • Robin Accentor
  • Brown Accentor
  • Red-Fronted Serin
  • Streaked Rosefinch

MAMMALS

  • Snow Leopard
  • Wolf
  • Kiang
  • Bharal
  • Himalayan Ibex
  • Tibetan Argali
  • Ladakh Urial
  • Himalayan Marmot
  • Royal’s Pike
  • Tibetan Hare

TOUR BASICS

Guide: Marta Curti
Single Supplement: US$420
Lodging: High quality hotel while in Leh. Camping in tents while in Hemis National Park
Food: Fresh, traditional Indian cuisine
Weather: Below-freezing temperatures and snow
Difficulty: Medium to Strenuous. On some days we may hike for several hours at a time in moderately steep terrain and very cold, harsh weather.

Your participation in the Snow Leopard tour will be contribute directly to Snow Leopard conservation. Whitehawk donates a percentage of its profits from this trip to Snow Leopard Trust, one of the leading organizations dedicated to the conservation of this endangered cat.

* With smaller groups, an additional fee will be charged.


LEARN MORE

Upcoming tour dates:

Past trip reports:
2022 India Trip Report
2016-2017 Snow Leopard Trip Report
Of Wolves and Winter: 2014 Snow Leopard Trip Report Part 1
Of Blue Skies and Blue Sheep: 2014 Snow Leopard Trip Report Part 2
Of Sunsets and Snow Leopards: 2014 Snow Leopard Trip Report Part 3

From our blog:
The Snow Leopard
Top 10 Reasons to Visit India
We Found the Elusive Snow Leopard!