Explore the hidden mysteries of Ladakh with LungtaTravel
Snow Leopard Tracking:

 

WILDLIFE OF LADAKH

Snow Leopard Tracking

The fauna of Ladakh has much in common with that of Central Asia, and especially that of the Tibetan Plateau. Exceptions to this are the birds, many of which migrate from the warmer parts of India to spend the summer in Ladakh.A total of 225 species have been recorded. Many of these birds breed at high-altitude wetlands likeTsomoriri Lake (4522 m) in Ladakh. The ibex (skin), Tibetan antelope, (rtsos), Tibetan wild ass (rkyang), lynx (ee), Tibetan wolf (shangku), brown bear (denmo), Tibetan sand fox (watse), marmot (pheya), and rabbit/hare (ribong) are among the commonly spotted wild animals while trekking in Ladakh.

The snow leopard (rChan) is the most enigmatic and elusive of all the world's large cats, an inhabitant of high Himalayan mountain ranges. Its presence is more often revealed by footprints in the snow with the help of local guides with intensive experience/knowledge of the region. Snow leopards are extremely shy and hard to spot. It is believed that there are about 200 Snow Leopards in Ladakh, but it is unlikely to see leopards easily while trekking over 3,000 m to 5,400 m of elevation. As blue sheep residing in lower elevations become prey for the giant cat in winter months, chances of finding this high-altitude predator are pretty high. The cat is mostly spotted in two different locations: Rumabk and Uley, which are often referred to as the snow leopard “capitals” of the world.

The two treks we offer will give an experience of a life time to those who dare, because tracking the snow leopard is a matter of hard work and even a matter of sheer luck.Our itinerary is especially made for searching snow leopards in the mountains of Hemis National Park and Uley Valley. The snow leopard adventure tour is an excursion in the remote Ladakh in the Himalayas. But our trek includes more than a snow leopard “safari.” You will also gain knowledge of the region by trekking with us, because trekking is as natural for us as the air we breathe. Special training sessions are organized from time to time to improve the hospitality skills among our local guides to serve our guests more efficiently. Our efforts are further motivated to encourage home stays to preserve the traditional culture and improve the local economy. Apart from wildlife, the tour will give you cultural and Buddhist monastic experiences, allow you to stay with local Ladakh is and experience the serene and breathtaking landscape of Ladakh. Moreover, staying in Buddhist monasteries will give you rare insight into the monks’ lifestyle. Whenever we will not stay with local people, we will camp (of course, we will provide all the gear necessary, food, etc.).

Because Hemis National Park (Rumbak) and Uley Valley are the two ideal places for spotting snow leopards, we offer two different Itineraries.

Best Time: Mid Jan to First week of March

ITINERARY-I:ULEY VALLEY

Day 1-Delhi to Leh: An early morning flight to Leh, probably the most spectacular flight in the world. Upon arrival, we will bring you to your hotel where the remainder of the day is yours at leisure to acclimatize. Framed by the jagged snow-capped Himalayas, Leh sits on the historic Silk-route. Dotted with humbling monasteries, stupas, and crumbling mud houses, this enchanting city is very easy to fall in love with.Leh is located at over 3,500m, and it is not uncommon to suffer from a little altitude sickness, whether it be a headache, breathlessness, or dizziness. Be sure to drink lots of liquids including ginger tea, soup and more to remain well hydrated and remember no strenuous exercise while acclimatizing. Overnight at Lotus Hotel or similar.
Days 2-3 –Leh: We have two more days in Leh to acclimatize before starting the trek. During these two days, you will be able to visit Shanti Stupa, Leh Palace, as well as some of the local monasteries. Shanti Stupa is 5km from town and overlooks Leh city, offering a panoramic view of the surrounding snow-capped mountains. The location of Shanti Stupa is visible from all over Leh city. Leh Palace is full of old-worldly charm, and the adventurous journey one has to undertake to reach the palace makes it even more special. Built in the 17th century by King Singe Namgyal as a royal residence, it was deserted in the mid 19th century after the family shifted to Stok. A visit here for many people feel like a glimpse into the window of Tibet. Overnight at Lotus Hotel
Day 4 -Road trip from Leh to Uley: This road trip takes approximately three hours,driving west on the road to Kargil and Srinagar highway, generally following the Indus River. Accompanied by our snow leopard expert team, you will pass through the small town of Nimmu– one of Ladakh’s most important towns where the Zanskar River meets the Indus. After an hour, we head north to Likir - one of Ladakh's famous Buddhist monasteries. This is all snow leopard country. The landscape here is big, expansive, and open until you turn off onto a dirt road winding up a narrow valley, following a stream called the Uley Chhu. Smaller valleys intersect and the guides have their heads craned all the time scanning the hill sides. This is excellent ibex country and there are few more evocative sights than a magnificently horned male ibex standing vigil on some impossibly narrow ridge a few thousand feet over a plunging cliff. Uley village, west of Leh, is an area that is only recently being developed for snow leopard watching. It is in the center of three interlocking valleys that support approximately 15 snow leopards, according to the last census. Uponarrival at your homestay, you will meet your hosts, settle in, and take time to acclimatize to the higher altitude of Uley (3,850 m). The big advantage of Uley is that it is relatively free of tourism. The other advantage is that from here you explore three valleys which apart from snow leopards are great for finding urials, ibexes, wolves and Himalayan foxes. Overnight in Uley Homestay.
Day 5 - Five days of tracking snow leopards around Uley: As mentioned, Uley is in the centre of three interlocking valleys that support about 15 snow leopards. These valleys house the villages of Saspol and the more substantial Hemis Shukpachan. All these valleys are connected by road and over the next few days, you will explore this area by vehicle and on foot with your guides, tracking for snow leopard and other wildlife, even various birds that surprisingly still survive in this harsh winter landscape. Your guide will be accompanied by an expert tracker from the respective area, who will interact closely with the local people, using a network of local intelligence to narrow down the likely sites for snow leopards. In the process of tracking, there will be opportunity to gain insights into local folklore, as well as to learn about local customs and traditions.
Day 6 -Tracking snow leopards and other wildlife: Overnight in Uley Homestay.
Day 7 -Tracking snow leopards and other wildlife: Overnight in Uley Homestay.
Day 8 -Tracking snow leopards and other wildlife: : Overnight in Uley Homestay.
Day 9 -Tracking snow leopards and other wildlife: Overnight in Uley Homestay.
Day 10:Uley – Alchi–Leh:This morning, we will drive back to Leh via Alchi monastery, built in the 11th century. The first temple of importance is Sum-stek temple, surrounded by wooden pillars with mythological animal carvings. The woodwork is original and reflects Kashmiri art influence. The wooden sculptures, stucco images and the Indo-Tibetan art are exclusive and the style is not to be found in any other monastery in Ladakh. Overnight in Lotus Hotel
Day 11: Flight Leh to Delhi: Flight to Delhi and then home with sweet memories of the Himalayas.

ITINERARY-II: HEMIS NATIONAL PARK (RUMBAK)

Day 1-Delhi to Leh: Transfer to domestic terminal (best if you have a Jet Airways or Air India ticket since they operate their domestic flights from the same terminal).
Day 2 -Fly to Leh: An early morning flight to Leh, probably the most spectacular flight in the world. Upon arrival, we will bring you to your hotel where the remainder of the day is yours at leisure to acclimatize. Framed by the jagged snow-capped Himalayas, Leh sits on the historic Silk-route. Dotted with humbling monasteries, stupas, and crumbling mud houses, this enchanting city is very easy to fall in love with. Leh is located at over 3,500m, and it is not uncommon to suffer from a little altitude sickness, whether it be a headache, breathlessness, or dizziness. Be sure to drink lots of liquids including ginger tea, soup and more to remain well hydrated and remember no strenuous exercise while acclimatizing. Overnight at Lotus Hotel or similar.
Day 3: A short local sightseeing is arranged in the morning to one of the famous monasteries. After lunch, meet our crew members to get tips for packing and preparations. Afternoon is free to explore Leh town on your own. Overnight at Lotus or similar.
Day 4 - Acclimatize and Monastery Visit:Full day visiting monasteries (104 Kms). After breakfast, we will drive for a full day of sightseeing to the Shey Palace and the three-storey copper gilt Statue of lord Buddha, first of its kind in Tibet and Ladakh,and built by King Deldan Namgyal in the memory of his father in 1633 AD. We will also visit Hemis (richest monastery) and Matho monasteries. Packed or hot lunch will be provided. Return to Leh in the evening. Overnight at Lotus or similar.
Day 5 -Leh-Zhingchan-Husing camp: After breakfast, we will drive to Zhingchen and start walking alongside the Rumbak River, continuing up the Zhingchen gorge, a dramatic entry into the snow Leopard home in Hemis National Park. Enroute, watch under cliffs and at the base of rocks footmark of snow leopards and other wildlife. Share wildlifeliterature to study them at Husing camp in the evenings. Trek time: approx 1,2 hrs Overnight in Husing Camp Elevation: 3600m.
Day 6–Tracking snow leopardsand other wildlife:Proceed for a full day of tracking snow leopards and its wildlife prey. Hemis National Park is home to blue sheep, argali (a large horned sheep), numerous mountain and migratory birds, as well as the occasional Tibetan wolf. You are likely to see signs of snow leopards because winter is the time whenthey descend to lower elevations. If we are lucky, we’ll actually see one perched high in the rocks or balanced on a near vertical ridge. Return to camp for some warming tea and share tales of the day. Overnight in Camp: elevation 3,600m.
Day 7 -Tracking snow leopards and other wildlife: Spend another day in the Husing valley for watching snow leopards and their prey. After breakfast, we will trek 3 to 4 hrs into the Husing valley following narrow gorge, some steep rocky mountains. The willow trees, bushes in the valley are wonderful support for searching snow leopards.The views of this stark landscape, the sky pierced by upward tilted strata and on snow-free days the ground adorned with hardy alpine plants, provide constant fascination. Evening back to camp: elevation 3,600m.
Day 8 - Tracking snow leopards and other wildlife: : We spend our 3rd consecutive day in the Husing valley, following similar schedule of day (7). Evening back to camp elevation 3600m.
Day 9 -Tracking snow leopards and other wildlife:: Tarbong valley is small valley, a 2 hrs trek from the camp into the narrow gorge, many bushes and Rocky Mountains. We will see the Golden Eagle nest, back for lunch at camp.After lunch; we will visit again the valley and patiently wait for the elusive cat’s appearance until it is dark.Back to camp:elevation 3,600m.
Day 10 -Zhingchen Camp to Rumbak Villages: : Today, we will trek to Rumbak and experience Himalayan home stay. Hosts are very hospitable and they are members of a community that focuses on conserving the endangered snow leopard. Learn about their livestock herding practices and try your hand at winter pastimes (spinning, weaving, and turning a tale). Spend the days tracking snow leopard and wildlife, and overnight in a home stay or camp:elevation 3,500m.
Day 11– Tracking wildlifearound Rumbak and Yurutrse: : Another day tracking snow leopards and their prey. We will walk up to Yurutse village and stay overnight in a homestay or camp:elevation 3,500m.
Day 12–Tracking wildlife around Rumbak: : Another day tracking snow leopards and their prey. Overnight in a homestay or camp. elevation:3,500m.
Day 13 - Trek to Zingchen, and Return to Leh: We will say goodbye to our friendly hosts and hike down the valley, past familiar snow leopard haunts and piles of carved Tibetan prayer stones to the road head at Zingchen. Then, we willdrive one hours to Leh, and check into a hotel for your first real bed in a week! Overnight at Lotus or similar.
Day 14 -Leh to Delhi: Flight to Delhi and then home with sweet memories of the Himalayas.

(cost and inclusions will be made available on demand)