Snow Leopard Expedition - Ghost of Himalayas

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Jungle Lore once again brings to you, one of its most exciting travel opportunities featuring the Ghost of the Himalayas, the elusive Snow Leopard. During the winters when the peaks are covered with snow, the ghost descends to lower and more approachable altitudes in and around the Hemis National Park. Though a Snow Leopard sighting will be the highlight of the trip, Hemis hosts a lot more in terms of wildlife diversity. Ranging from Himalayan Blue Sheep, Red Fox, Tibetan Wolf and an exquisite variety of bird life.

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1 - 11th March : Arrive in Leh (Rest)

Take the early morning flight to Leh from New Delhi. Upon arrival, transfer to the hotel located near Leh market.

Complete rest for the day is highly recommended as it eases the process of acclimatisation. Also sipping hot tea while stretching your legs in the lap of Himalayas is definitely not a bad way to start you trip, alternatively you can also choose to visit the local market in the evening.

Dinner and overnight stay in Leh.

Day 2 - 12th March : Drive to Ule.

Early morning we depart for Ule and reach by lunch time.

Today, we will be exploring the Ule landscape, which is known for its Leopard sightings as well. Apart from that keep a look out for Urial, Agrali and Tibetian Antelope here.

Dinner and overnight stay in Ule Homestay.

Day 3 - 13th March: Explore Ule. Late evening back to Leh

We shall explore more of Ule and late afternoon we head back to Leh.

A bonfire to keep you warm and dinner afterwards.

Overnight at Leh.

Day 4 - 14th March  -  Leh to Zinchen. Trek to Rumbak

This is the part that we have been building up to.

Post breakfast we head to the Hemis National Park. From Phey Bridge onwards we start hiking along side Indus towards the Zingchen Gorge. We continue up the gorge and soon enough lay our eyes on the high altitude Hemis national park, the home of the Snow Leopard. Keep your senses sharp and look out amidst the cliffs and at the base of rocks where they mark their turf.

We spend the night in Rumbak Homestays and it is our first night in the stunning Hemis wilderness.

Trekking time: 5-6 hrs. Elevation: 12,400 ft

Day 5 - 15th march  - Explore Rumbak

Over the next 3 days we trek around Hemis National Park tracking the Snow Leopard 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 an occasional Tibetan wolf, one of the most prolific hunters of the region. You are likely to see signs of Snow Leopard, as winter is the time when they descend to lower elevations. If lucky, you’ll actually see one perched high in the rocks or balanced on a near vertical ridge. Return to camp for some hot servings and warming tea and share tales of the day.

**Snow Leopards naturally predate on wild bharal (blue sheep) or ibex (mountain goat) however they have been known to kill domestic animals such as local farmers’ goat and sheep. They are able to kill and carry up to 3 times their body weight and are generally opportunist hunters.

Overnight in camp/home stay.

Day 6 - 16th march  - Turhan Valley

Today, we trek to the Turhan valley another great place to spot the elusive cat. 

Overnight in camp/home stay.

Day 7 -  17th March  - Rumbak - Urutse. Homestay at Urutse(13,500 ft).

Today, we will explore Yurutse (13,500 ft) and Gandala Pass base which is known for its Ibex sightings.

Overnight in camp/home stay at Yurutse.

Day  8 - 18th march  -  Urutse to Zinchen. Back to Leh.

Trek down-valley past familiar Snow Leopard haunts and piles of carved Tibetan prayer stones to Zingchen; about 5 hrs. We take it slow exploring the familiar haunts of the Leopards with packed Lunch so that we make it to Zingchen by late afternoon.

Post our arrival in Zingchen, we head back to civilisation – Leh. After a much needed and deserved shower it is time to relax, grab a drink and enjoy the last of the gorgeous and peaceful Himalayan scenery.

Farewell dinner and overnight in Leh.

Day 9 - 19th march  -  Depart for Delhi/Mumbai

Early morning depart back home with memories for a lifetime.

Trip Cost: 

Rs.60,000 /- + 4.5% Service Tax  + Air Fare

Additional charges of Rs 5000/- for foreign nationality.  

 

Cost Includes:

- 4 nights accommodation in deluxe property in Leh on twin sharing basis (heater facility)

- 5 nights stay in homestay Ule/Rumbak & Urutse  on twin sharing basis (bukhara local fire place ) 

- All meals during the trip

- Porter charges Zinchen to Rumbak & back 

- Service of an expert naturalist & spotter 

- Jungle Lore escort 

- Surface transfers as per plan by tempo traveler 

- Inner Liner permits, monastery fees and taxes

- Wildlife permit frees Rs 1600/- per day per head 

- Local sightseeing/monastery festival/trek to Shang Shumdo for birding 

Jungle Lore once again brings to you one of its most exciting travel opportunities of a lifetime featuring the Ghost of the Himalayas, the elusive Snow Leopard. During the winters when the peaks are covered with snow, the ghost descends to lower and more approachable altitudes in and around the Hemis National Park. Though this trip is not just about the Snow Leopard but we will also be indulging in some culture and adventure as well.

 

CULTURE AND ADVENTURE
The Ladakhis celebrate the famed Stok monastery festival during this time. And if one witnesses the monastic extravaganza, its tough to say that the winter has dampened any spirits. We spend an entire day witnessing the winter celebrations at Stok.

 

This season is also known for the remarkable Chadar - the frozen river. The legendary route which is literally frozen down in the winters used by the locals to travel to the Zanskari villages. We experience part of the Chadar spending an entire day trekking across the frozen landscape.

SNOW LEOPARD AND OTHER WILDLIFE
These rare, beautiful gray leopards inhabit the mountains of Hemis National Park. They are insulated by thick hair, and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. Snow leopards have powerful legs and are tremendous leapers, able to jump as far as 50 feet (15 meters). They use their long tails (some times 80% of their body length) for balance and as blankets to insulate sensitive body parts against the severe mountain chill. Like all cats, they are territorial and sneak up on their prey. Typical targets are the blue sheep, Ibex, etc. Though if the opportunity arises, the leopard goes after the wooly hares, birds, marmots, domestic goats etc. They prefer steep, rugged terrains with rocky outcrops and ravines. This type of habitat provides excellent camouflage; good cover and clear view to help them sneak up on their prey.

Although it is of course these magnificent felines that we are looking for, there is also lots of other interesting wildlife to be seen. The local mountain goat, known as the ibex is a stunning woolly creature that can weigh up to 200 pounds. Their colour ranges from pale to dark brown and they have a darker dorsal stripe. The ibex has distinctive horns which curve backwards and are bigger on the males. The Eurasian lynx is a medium size cat that is reddish brown in colour with black spots. They have black tufts on top of their ears and a short bobbed tail. They prey on smaller animals than the leopard like rabbits, hares, foxes and deer. The Tibetan wolf varies in colour depending on the season and the part of their body. The back and tail are usually black and white, the chest, belly and inside legs are white ears are grey. Its legs are slightly shorter than the European wolf and it is one of the region’s most prolific hunters.

DETAILED ITINERARY

 

The Itinerary is carefully designed and timed to make the most of the winter experience in Ladakh. Before we enter the wilderness of Hemis, we make sure that the participants are better acclimatised to the altitude and have gotten a taste of the varied aspects we are about to experience. During the first few days, we will witness the famed Stok Moanstic Festival and the experience the Chadar trek. You can also read up on an account of last year's expedition featured on Red Bull Click to Read

 

 

Quick Info

Trip Cost: Rs.60,000 + 4.5% Service Tax  + Air Fare

Trip Dates: 11th March to 19th March 2017

Weather Link for Leh

Trip Leader: Kaustubh

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