Snow Leopard tracking in the Himalayas

“If ever a holiday felt like a privilege, this is it. Seeing snow leopards in the wild. Seeing the Himalayan wilderness. Spending time with the expert local trackers. Pure privilege. ”

Highlights

70% success rate in spotting snow leopards | Expert zoologist guide | English speaking local naturalists and local tracking guides | Private vehicle with air con | Snow leopard scientists | nine nights camping in snow leopard area | Homestays in Rumbak and Ullay | Leh | Hemis National Park | Delhi

Description of Snow Leopard tracking in the Himalayas

Join snow leopard experts with decades of experience in tracking, researching and conserving snow leopards throughout Ladakh. Tracking down snow leopards in the Himalayas is one of the most exhilarating and amazing experiences in the natural world. The top areas for sightings are the Tarlung, Hysing and Karlung valleys inside the Hemis High Altitude National Park, but we also visit the Ullay Valley which has recently been found to have a local snow leopard population.

Up until recently seeing snow leopard in the wild was a rarity. The idea of trying to find one of the shyest, most elusive and well camouflaged cats in the world, mostly active at night and living in a habitat that is quite physically demanding , was deemed a trail too far. However, tourism development has led to the training of excellent guides and trackers, and opened up opportunities to see snow leopards in the wild. And we are delighted to say that we have a 70% success rate in spotting snow leopards.

We also work closely with Snow Leopard Conservancy scientists on this trip and our fees contribute heavily to its work. In addition, by employing local people as guides, expedition crew and also bystaying in local homestays in Rumbak and Ullay valleys (subject to snow leopard sightings) we contribute directly to the sustainable ecotourism of this amazing national park.

On this trip we use all the latest in tracking technology, to ensure the best possible chances of sightings. We offer nocturnal spotlighting, and are the first tour in the world to do so. We can also bring thermal imaging and night vision equipment on request. Please note that a good level of fitness is required for this holiday, although we do walk at a gentle pace for maximum four hours. But it is cold, and of course we will be walking at high altitude. Minimum Age: 18 Years old

Price of this holiday includes:

All activities, park fees, all meals, bottled water, private transport in air conditioned 4X4 vehicles, camping equipment (except sleeping bag) , technical equipment, internal flights, reference library, English speaking guides, zoologist, local naturalists and expedition crew. We will send you a detailed packing list at time of booking.

Best time to go snow leopard tracking

The best (and perhaps only) season to see wild snow leopards is from November to March. Heavy winter snow falls on the mountain tops force the bharal (blue sheep), Asiatoc ibex and argali (Marco Polo sheep) down the mountain side to feed. These are the snow leopards preferred prey and so the predators follow the prey down the slopes to locations where we can catch a glimpse of them. Also the increased snow cover makes tracking and spotting easier.



Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made between November - March
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Snow Leopard tracking in the Himalayas

Environment

It is important to be aware of the fragility of the Himalayan ecosystem, by travelling with a zoologist as well as local guides, the impact on the environment is a minimum. As many things are recycled as possible and we make sure that all signs of our camp are taken back with us to the town and disposed of responsibly.
All the entrance fees paid to the Hemis National Park authorities and the camera trap permits go into direct conservation efforts throughout Ladakh and help to fund rangers and wardens to protect the wildlife against poachers. Since the park has reopened to tourists the decline in poaching has been dramatic and we hope to help maintain this decline until poaching here is a thing of the distant past.
Every person booking on this tour will receive a comprehensive pre-departure pack which will outline the doís and doníts when on the tour, these guidelines help to increase your chances of seeing wildlife as well as protecting the environment and conserving the area for future generations. All these points are common sense and by following them will increase the enjoyment of the entire tour.
At the end of each we offset our carbon footprint (based on the number of tours we have completed and the number of passengers we have taken with us), with the Carbon Trust.

Wildlife Promise:

The wildlife is of course of the upmost importance to us on this tour and all other tours run by us. All pictures and videos which we take of wild snow leopards are handed over to the Snow Leopard Conservancy for their on going studies. This helps to keep tabs on the individuals in the area and further understand the behaviour of the species; as the snow leopard is still far from understood completely, every sighting is invaluable to conservation and research efforts. We also actively campaign against poaching and the illegal fur trade worldwide; we are also keen to report any abuse of the environment or wildlife that we see to the local authorities.

Community

The local community benefits directly from this tour in many ways. The most obvious being that the porters, pony-men, snow leopard trackers, cooks and camp assistants are all local people who are handsomely paid for their tireless work. This as made guiding a genuine career prospect which has helped to keep the current generation of men in the villages (as opposed to the migration out of the mountains and into the towns and cities). The other major impact is that when staying at the homestays in Rumbak or Ullay, this is run by the Snow Leopard Conservancy; the money from the homestay is split to fund many projects in the village as well as some being given direct the host families. Some of the more important projects which are funded are solar powered water heaters, better corrals for their livestock at night (to avoid snow leopard and Tibetan wolf predation) and training of snow leopard guides and trackers.
All our guests are encouraged to embrace and understand Buddhism and the daily lives of the local people, we find that this is the best way for the local ethos and culture to embed itself into foreigners and as a result the awareness of the area and its people becomes more ingrained in the mindset of tourists.

1 Reviews of Snow Leopard tracking in the Himalayas

5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 11 Apr 2014 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Actually being able to watch snow leopards in the wild - the main aim of the trip. We spent nearly 50 hours watching interaction between several different cats including hunting and mating.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you have good telescope, binoculars and camera lenses. Even if you don't see snow leopards, they are needed for the birdlife. Suggest getting a solar powered charger for electrical equipment - they don't weigh much and work really well. Have a care if you suffer from vertigo - you will be climbing up the side of mountains and walking along narrow trails in order to get good vantage points!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The tour employed local people during the "non tourist season", encouraged their interest in the ecology of the area, particularly the snow leopards, and tried to ensure no litter was left in the national park - any bottles or rubbish spotted was picked up. Our guide (who works for the wildlife department) was keen to increase the fees and also limit the numbers of people coming into the park in an effort to protect the environment. I believe that something should be done in the way of improving toilet facilities at the camp to prevent seepage into the water system rather than just digging pits and then filling them in.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent - I consider myself very privileged to have seen not only these big cats in their natural habitat but also the other flora and fauna in Hemis. The camp staff were great and really looked after us and I would recommend the Shanti Home Hotel in Delhi to anybody.

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