Snow Leopard searching holiday in Ladakh
Description of Snow Leopard searching holiday in Ladakh
Beautiful, endangered and notoriously elusive, the snow leopard inhabits some of the most remote and isolated regions of Central Asia, living a solitary life in often impenetrable mountain terrain. In summer, snow leopards retreat high above the tree line – but in winter they are forced to descend to lower altitudes in search of food – and it is at this time that we have our best chances of seeing them. This snow leopard holiday in Ladakh, northern India, maximises our chances of sightings with five days’ trekking through the valleys of Hemis National Park – where we also hope to encounter ibex, wolf, blue sheep and lynx, amongst other creatures. Although sightings are never guaranteed, the scenery here is absolutely stunning, and guides carry spotting scopes to help spot them from a distance.
The snow leopard searching holiday begins in Leh with the chance to visit the annual Dosmoche Festival in which monks re-enact ancient Buddhist stories in elaborate costumes. After our five days tracking in the Himalaya, we return to Leh in time for the Stok Festival, to witness oracles entering deep trances to predict the future of Ladakh.
Please note: Due to this trip fitting around these festivals, this itinerary may vary slightly depending on the departure date to ensure we can participate in the events. Full details can be found in the trip notes.
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PlanetAccommodation & Meals:
We spend 7 nights in hotels, 5 in full-serviced camping and 1 night in a Ladakhi family homestay. All accommodations used are staffed locally, camping has its environmental merits and the homestay is a great way to directly benefit the local community whilst getting an authentic cultural experience and a home cooked meal. On trek, meals include locally sourced ingredients, like porridge, eggs, bread, pasta, rice and potato with a mixture of Indian and Chinese styles. All groceries and other items used during treks are purchased from local shops and markets in Leh- where clients are encouraged to support local businesses and explore local delicacies on offer.
Few holidays have as little detrimental impact on the environment and local residents as a trekking trip. Erosion on and adjacent to popular paths is a growing problem in certain places and therefore our trip leaders encourage clients to stick to advised routes in order to minimise this. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints, although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, and use local businesses in order to leave behind a positive cultural exchange. Also in visiting cultural sites and National Parks (such as Hemis N.P. and Tikse and Stakna monasteries), we benfit local communities, species and environments by contributing our entrance fees towards conservation projects in these areas.
Water is a really important issue with trekking trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Lack of recycling is already a massive problem in India so we suggest that instead of repeatedly buying bottled water, guests should re-fill a singular bottle. You will be provided with boiled drinking water on trek but it is also advisable to bring purification tablets/liquid such as Biox Aqua to treat water. Burnable rubbish will be burnt on trek and we ask each trekker to keep a rubbish bag for non-burnable rubbish to take back to Delhi.
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
PeopleLocal Craft and Culture:
We visit one of the annual festivals in Ladakh where in every monastery the monks dress in elaborate brocade and silk costumes and re-enact century old stories of the Tibetan Buddhist religion. People come from all over Ladakh to the festivals and these are a great social as well as religious occasion. In Leh, we also visit the Stok Festival, which features the appearance and performance of oracles who go into trance-like states and predict the future of Ladakh.
Our Himalayan Community Support Projects have been helping people in the Markha Valley, Ladakh since the floods in 2006, when we helped people rebuild homes. Since then we have been involved with the local women’s groups and Youth Organisation for the Conservation and Preservation of the Hems National Park in building and running a successful Eco Café. The focus is using only locally made or organic produce and eliminating the plastic bottles littered around the Valley with the use of a UV water filter for trekkers. The Ladakhi women have been trained in needle and flat felting in order to make and sell felt snow leopards, ibex and blue sheep as souvenirs. This has had great economic, social and environmental benefit for the area
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A quest to spot the rare snow leopard in Ladakh