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Quest for Snow Leopard

India, South Asia

Greg Downing
Photography Tour with Greg Downing
7 people maximum 11 days
This tour is designed to leave you with a sense of thrill and delight, while deepening your wisdom and heightening your awareness of these unique cats. You will return home with newfound knowledge and, we hope, lots of photos! Special discount if you sign up for our India Tiger Safari!!!

Trip Highlights

This snow leopard trip is set up to be as easy as possible. In the not so recent past travelers used to have only the option to camp and do long treks to find and photograph snow leopard and other wildlife. 

We have reserved some of the only rooms available in the area.

We will have heat and electricity so we will be able to get out of the cold and rest when needed. Nights will be warm and comfortable! 

Dates

Main Trip, 7 people maximum

  • February 27–March 10, 2022 (5 openings)
  • February 7–18, 2023 (6 openings)

Cost Per Person (USD)

Price from $8,995
Full details

Want to talk first?

Call 1-888-667-0559 or 410-239-8025, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Eastern Time. You can also send an email to editors@naturescapes.net.
Each day we will go out and search and share sightings. Unlike in the past there is little to no trekking required. We can walk as little or as much as we want as we do have vehicles to move from area to area.

Itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in India

Arrive in Delhi, the capital of India. Our tour representative will welcome you at the airport arrival lounge.

Delhi, the capital of India, is a city that offers a glimpse of both ancient and modern day India. It is the third largest city in India and one of the fastest growing in Asia.

Those wishing to arrive early with have the opportunity to chose from various cultural tours that we can arrange, or just rest until our journey starts. 

Overnight at Radisson Blu Plaza (no meals included)

Day 2

DELHI-LEH

After breakfast on time transfer to Delhi Airport to flight to Leh. Meeting and assistance on arrival at Leh Airport and transfer to hotel. We suggest using this time at leisure for acclimatization to the high altitude. 

Overnight at Grand Dragon (B,L,D)

Day 3

LEH

Day at leisure for proper acclimatization, it is very important, to move slower, drink lots of water/tea, and not to put much stress on the body. We want to be in proper shape when exploring the Himalayas. Walking should be to a bare minimum and you can visit one of the several possibilities like Sankar Gompa, Shanti Stupa and Leh Palace. We will head right before sunset to Leh Palace in order to photograph Shanti Stupa from a distance.

Overnight at Grand Dragon (B,L,D)

Day 4

LEH-ULLEY

Drive west (3hrs) today on the road to Kargil and Srinagar, generally following the Indus River. You pass through the small town of Nimmu - one of the most important in Ladakh, where the Zanskar River meets the Indus. After a little over an hour you head north on a road marked to Likir - one of Ladakh's famous Buddhist monasteries. This is all snow leopard country. The landscape here is even bigger, more expansive and open, until you turn off onto a dirt road, winding up a narrow valley, following a stream called the Ulley Chhu. Smaller valleys intersect and the guides have their heads craned all the time, scanning the hill sides and skyline for any silhouette. Ulley Village, west of Leh is an area that is only recently being developed for Snow Leopard watching.

Overnight at Snow Leopard Annex (B,L,D)

The Snow Leopard Annex is located in the village of Ulley in West Ladakh, north of the Indus River, at the head of the valley of the Ulley Chhu at an altitude of about 13,000 feet. It is 2 - 3 hours driving time from Leh. Ulley itself is a hamlet of just about 7 houses beyond which are the high summer pastures of yak and dzo. This is excellent Ibex country and there are few more evocative sights than a magnificently horned male Ibex standing vigil on some impossibly narrow outcropping, a few thousand feet over a plunging cliff. This is an area that has only recently been developed for Snow Leopard tracking and has quickly gained a reputation not just for the high numbers of snow leopards but as one of the best areas to see Ibex, Urial, wolf, Red fox, bearded and Himalayan griffon vultures and golden eagles.

The Snow Leopard Annex is the only dedicated wildlife lodge in Ladakh. It began originally as a home stay owned by one of Ladakh’s top snow leopard trackers – Tchewang Norbu – under the auspices of a program initiated by the Snow Leopard Conservancy designed to use tourism as a conservation tool for the preservation of snow leopards and their ecosystem by putting tourism revenue directly into local community. The home stay was built as a 5 – room with 3 rooms with attached bathroom and 2 shared bathroom rooms. The idea is to create a comfortable home base with heat, good food and little luxuries like real coffee, comfortable beds, toilets and washing facilities from where one can search for snow leopards and other high altitude wildlife in relative comfort without having to deal with the exhausting issues of camping in the intense cold aggravated by high altitude. The Annex is simple but attractively furnished with a/v equipment that allows you to enjoy wildlife and regular movies plus board games to make the long winter evenings convivial and fun. The Annex commands excellent views down the valley and the high mountains surrounding it and you are certain to see Ibex from here and if you are lucky much other wildlife including wolf, Red fox and perhaps even snow leopard. The advantage of Ulley is that it is relatively free of tourism and the chaos that has enveloped the first snow leopard destination - Rumbak. The other advantage is that from here you explore 3 valleys.

At Ulley tracking of snow leopards is done mainly by car with variable amounts of walking which you can adjust to your own requirements. The trackers and spotters are exceptional. You will be amazed at the sheer dedication and commitment they bring to their craft and the effort made to ensure that guests leave happy. The trackers interact closely with the local people and use their network of local intelligence to narrow down the likely sites for snow leopard movement.

Day 5 - 9

ULLEY

Spend your days searching for snow leopard and other wildlife. The area has good number of species like Yak (wild Ox), Ibex, Tibetan Wolf & red fox. Due to the rugged terrain of the Himalayas most of the herbivores are related to the agile footed sheep and goats. They can move easily through the mountainous regions of the Himalayas from one pasture to the next. During the winter months the Ibex move down to lower altitudes where there is food and they are followed by the snow leopards and other predators like the Tibetan Wolf. These ungulates form the primary snow leopards diet and it is through the movements of these ungulates and trails left by snow leopard moving across habitats that one can improve the chances of seeing the snow leopard in its natural environment. Every day we head out in different directions to track this Grey Ghost.

Overnight at Snow Leopard Annex (B,L,D)

Our tentative program at the Annex which will change based on the sightings.

6 nights at Annex Lodge

• Day’s plan discussed then based on findings of the spotters from earlier that morning (guests can join the spotters early in the morning if they wish to)

• Based on information and distances, excursions will be organized using the vehicles at the Lodge, coupled with short walks (easy to medium difficulty) to vantage points or possible sighting areas. (Mules and porters can be provided if requested in advance)

• Hot lunch at Lodge or in the field based on day’s plan.

• Return to the Lodge in the evening.

• Debrief in the common area over tea/coffee and snacks.

• Documentary projection or interaction with naturalists in the common area.

• Dinner at Lodge.

Overnight at Snow Leopard Annex (B,L,D)

Day 10

ULLEY-LEH

Drive back to Leh. Upon arrival in Leh, check into the hotel.

Overnight at Grand Dragon (B,L,D)

Day 11

LEH-DELHI

After breakfast on time transfer to Leh Airport to flight to Delhi. Pickup from Delhi Airport terminal and transfer to hotel.

Overnight at Radisson Blu Plaza (B,L,D)

Day 12

DELHI-DEPARTURE

After breakfast on time transfer to Delhi International Airport for flight back home.

Radisson Blu Plaza (B)

Included:

  • Accommodation on double/twin sharing basis at hotels mentioned above.
  • All meals included, as per the itinerary.
  • In country airfare: Delhi-Leh-Delhi.
  • Tour Leader.
  • Tip (except Tour Leader).
  • All transfers as per the itinerary.
  • National Park / monuments / monastery fee.
  • Ladakh Environment entry fee (subject to change).
  • Ladakh hill counsel fees.
  • Meeting / assistance on arrival/departure at both airports & hotels.
  • National parks entry fee, activities and all trekking excursions with your expert naturalist and wildlife experts.
  • Entrance fee to national park.
  • Government service tax.
  • Not Included:

  • International Airfare, any insurance fee.
  • Any meal other than what is specified above or anything not mentioned in inclusion above.
  • Any expenditure of personal nature alcoholic drinks etc.
  • Any sudden increase in price due to steep hike in park Entry Fee, steep hike infuel cost, change in government tax policy or for any reason beyond our control like acts of god, natural calamity, law and order situation, riots etc and any forced change in itinerary for any unforeseen situation or reason beyond our control.
  • NOTE:

    Please bear this mind that due to the nature of this tour and the area visited, there might

    be possibility for schedule / itinerary changes. Wildlife viewing: Please note that seeing a snow leopard is not in any way guaranteed. In fact it must be regarded as a great privilege to even catch a glimpse of one; such is the elusiveness of these creatures. They are wild and by necessity elusive creatures with no fixed routine and finding them requires not only the skill and patience of the trackers/guides but also considerable luck! Conservation Commitment – We work closely with an organization called Snow Leopard Conservancy who help work with communities in the Himalayas to secure Snow Leopard Habitat. We encourage everyone to make a contribution of USD 200 per person. We will have the opportunity to witness their work first hand in Ladakh.

    Image credits: Snow Leopard Lodge

    Dates and Cost

    Dates

    Main Trip, 7 people maximum

    • February 27–March 10, 2022 (5 openings)
    • February 7–18, 2023 (6 openings)

    Cost Per Person (USD)

    • Trip: $8,995 (2022); $9,995 (2023)
    • Deposit: $1,000
    • Single Supplement: $2,318

    Trip Details

    Dates

    Main Trip, 7 people maximum

    • February 27–March 10, 2022 (5 openings)
    • February 7–18, 2023 (6 openings)

    Cost Per Person (USD)

    • Trip: $8,995 (2022); $9,995 (2023)
    • Deposit: $1,000
    • Single Supplement: $2,318

    Single Supplements

    Single supplement fees reflect our actual cost and are subject to availability. If you're a single traveler and we're unable to place you with a roommate, we will need to place you in a single room and charge a single supplement.

    Rooming options/supplements:

    • Standard, shared room (double occupancy) with shared bathroom - no supplement
    • Shared room (double occupancy) with private bathroom - $499
    • Private room (single occupancy) with shared bathroom - $945
    • Private room (single occupancy) with private bathroom - $2,318

    Travel Ratings

    Moderate - Since we are at a high elevation you must be in good enough shape to handle the high elevation with some walking involved.
    Easy to Moderate
    Tour with some technical help along the way when needed.
    Yes (price is the same)

    Leaders and Guides

    Greg Downing

    Greg has been traveling the world teaching professional and amateur photographers for more than 15 years hosting his instructional workshops and...Continue reading

    Photo Gallery

    Registration

    To register for this trip fill out and submit your registration form. A non-refundable deposit (above) is required to reserve your spot. See the About Our Trips page for cancellation/refund policies and other important information.

    Want to talk first?

    Call 1-888-667-0559 or 410-239-8025, Monday–Friday, 8:30 AM–4:30 PM Eastern Time. You can also send an email to editors@naturescapes.net.

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