“Enigmatic”, “magnificent” and “rare”! Many words have been used to describe the Snow Leopard - all of them ring true, but none are perhaps as appropriate as “elusive”. The spectacular and rugged terrain that the Snow Leopard calls home plays a large role in making this “Ghost of the Himalayas” so exceptionally hard to find. Fortunately, however, we now have a much greater understanding of their behaviour and ecology, and our chances for locating this magnificent feline have therefore much improved over the last few years.
Our search takes place in the unequalled scenery that forms the backdrop of Hemis National Park in northwest India. Situated in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, in the fabled kingdom of Ladakh, Hemis National Park is a high altitude reserve that holds claim to being the largest National Park in all of South Asia, and is home to many special Himalayan mammals, including the impressive Blue Sheep (or Bharal). Not only is this cliff dwelling sheep a common and wonderful sight in the park, but it is also the Snow Leopard’s principle prey species in the area.
From the first major snow falls in late Autumn, right through the bitterly cold winter months, Blue Sheep descend from the higher altitudes to the more sheltered valley slopes and floors, drawing with them the ever-watchful Snow Leopards. Our expedition is especially timed for this period and combines up-to-date information from locals and experienced local trackers to hunt down views of the “grey ghost”.
Whilst the main focus of our tour is to experience the utter thrill of seeing a Snow Leopard in its spectacular natural surroundings, we also stand a chance for encounters with a selection of highly sought-after inhabitants of the Himalayas such as Eurasian Lynx, Ibex, Argali and Ladakh Urial.
Tour Fact Sheet
Top Birds: Golden Eagle, Lammergeier, Yellow-billed and Red-billed Chough, Robin Accentor and Himalayan Snowcock
Top Mammals :Snow Leopard, Ladakh Urial (wild sheep), Blue Sheep, Tibetan Red Fox, Large-eared Pikas, Eurasian Lynx, Ibex, Woolly Hare and Argali
Habitats Covered :rocky scree slopes, pine forests, dry alpine shrublands, meadows and alpine tundra
Expected Climate: Climatic conditions vary from Arctic to Sub-arctic. Temperatures throughout the tour, but particularly in Hemis National Park, will be well below zero. This is a low rainfall area, with snow being the main form of precipitation
Max Group Size: 8 with 1 Indri leader & local trackers
Tour Pace & Walking :challenging trekking at high altitudes which is strenuous due to the low oxygen content in the air. Scree slopes, rock slides and rocky embankments can make walking arduous and difficult. A good level of fitness is required
Accommodation basic tented camping in Hemis National Park and comfortable hotel accommodation in Leh
Ease of Birding: challenging
Other Attractions :exploring the ancient Himalayan city of Leh, monasteries of Shey and Tikse
Photographic Opportunities: excellent
Tour Price (Per Person) US$2,975 * £1,910 * €2,390 * ZAR24,300
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