Day 1 – New Delhi: Upon arrival in Delhi, a 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. This city is rich in culture, always changing with time but never hiding its splendid past. The various ancient ruins seen in the city are silent witnesses to its magnificent history. The city of Delhi is a blend of two different yet perfectly balanced parts, the Old and the New Delhi.
Day 2 – Leh: Wake early for your transfer from the hotel to the airport for your scheduled flight to Leh. Upon arrival, you will be met by a representative and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy the day at leisure to acclimate to the high altitude. Ladakh is in the Indian Himalayas and is one of the best areas to see the elusive snow leopard, as well as a host of other animals and birds. Leh is situated in a very scenic part of India as it is bounded by two of the world’s biggest mountain ranges which are home to numerous monasteries and palaces which you will visit during your stay. Leh sits at nearly 11,500 feet above sea level so spending time in this area will be helpful for you to get acclimatized with high altitude gradually before you start your snow leopard safari that involves strenuous trekking in the Husing Valley.
Day 3 – Leh: Spend today preparing yourself and acclimatizing to the altitude. It is very important to move slower, drink lots of water/tea, and not to put much stress on the body. You will want to be in proper shape when exploring the Himalayas. If you’d like to explore and walk some, you can visit Sankar Gompa, Shanti Stupa or Leh Palace. We will go right before sunset to Leh Palace in order to photograph Shanti Stupa from a distance.
Day 4 – Jammu/Kashmir: Drive west about 2-3 hours 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 will 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 hillsides and the skyline for any silhouette. This is excellent Ibex country and there are few more evocative sights than a magnificently horned male Ibex standing vigil on an impossibly narrow outcropping, a few thousand feet over a plunging cliff. Ulley Village, west of Leh is an area that is only recently being developed for snow leopard watching.
You will be staying at Snow Leopard Lodge – which apart from being more comfortable than camping out in sub-zero temperatures – puts money directly into local hands and strengthens the constituency of the snow leopard. This will be your base during your stay searching for snow leopards and other high-altitude wildlife. The lodge is built separately from the main house with a dining room, lounge, and kitchen – all in the same low stone-built building. For our travelers, we bring in our own cook and camp staff with an assortment of important luxuries like extra gas heaters, a warm shower and bathroom, comfortable mattresses, linens, and an assortment of coffees, teas, snacks that go a long way to alleviate the cold and the altitude. Add to this the interest of living with a Ladakhi family in the depths of winter and understanding their lifestyle and you have a very special experience in store – especially sharing the large and warm kitchens that are the heart of a Ladkahi home in winter and resplendent with brass, copper and silver ornaments.
From the house and its terraced fields, you command a superb view across the valley and are almost certain to see Ibex from here and if you are lucky, much other wildlife including wolf, red fox and perhaps even snow leopard. Settle in on arrival and acclimatize to the higher altitude of Ulley. You will be based here and the advantage of Ulley 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 urial, Ibex, wolf and red fox. Over the next few days, you will explore the area on foot and vehicle with your guide tracking the snow leopard. There will also be plenty of opportunities for you to get insights into local folklore, as well as learn about local customs and traditions.
Days 5, 6, 7, 8, & 9 – Jammu/Kashmir: Spend your days tracking and photographing Ibex and other wildlife in the area. Snow leopards are some of the most elusive big cats in the world because they live in such remote areas of Central Asia. There are thought to be between 3,500 and 7,000 snow leopards left in the wild. 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. Other than snow leopard, the area has a good number of species like yak (wild ox), Ibex, Tibetan wolf & red fox.
Day 10 – Leh: After breakfast, begin your drive back to Leh. Upon arrival in Leh, check into the hotel and enjoy the rest of your day at leisure.
Day 11 – End Of Itinerary: After breakfast, you will be transferred to Leh airport for your flight to Delhi. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to a hotel to rest until your evening transfer to Delhi airport to board your international flight home.
Optional: In Search of Tigers Extension
Day 1 – India: Travelers have the option to extend their trip in their search for tigers. After arriving in Delhi, connect on your flight to Raipur. Upon arrival in Raipur, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Day 2 – Kanha National Park: After breakfast, drive to Kanha National Park. Kanha National Park is one of the largest and most scenic national parks in India and is an ideal habitat for both tigers and their prey. The lush sal and bamboo forests, grassy meadows and ravines of Kanha shelter a significant population of rare species such as tiger, leopard, sloth bear, barasingha, and wild dog to name a few. Kanhaʹs mixed forests are interspersed with vast meadows known as maidens. Perennial streams run through a number of such meadows, providing a source of water for the wildlife even in the hot summers. Kanha meadow, with its hundreds of chital grazing on a carpet of green grass against the backdrop of the majestic Sal forest, has been aptly referred to as ‘ʹthe Ngorongoro of India”. Kanha is particularly well known for its endangered swamp deer, or hard water barasingha, which populate the large open tracks of grass amidst the forests of teak and bamboo. Brought back from the brink of extinction, these handsome animals are a remarkable conservation success story for Kanha. You will embark on an afternoon safari by 4×4 jeep accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest guide.
Day 3 – Kanha National Park: You will wake up to misty mornings and sounds of birds calling, which will make an exciting start to your day. As soon as dawn breaks, leave for your jungle safari, accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest park guides in 4×4 jeeps. Enjoy a picnic breakfast in the middle of the jungle with a cup of hot tea or coffee. Then spend the rest of the morning at leisure or go for a nature walk, visit a nearby village/school or engage yourself in a cooking demonstration. Then embark on an afternoon safari by 4×4 jeep accompanied by a resident naturalist and forest guide, return to the lodge for evening tea and rest of time free to relax. Have evening tea and rest of time free for stargazing.
Day 4 – Kanha National Park: Enjoy another day of morning and afternoon safari activities.
Day 5 – End Of Itinerary: After breakfast, transfer to the airport for flight to Delhi and then continue on your international flight home.
Interested in this trip? Give us a call or drop us an email.