In Search of the Snow Leopard

Resort:In Search of the Snow Leopard
Operator: Exodus
Destination: Asia, India
Price From: £2849.00


Search for the elusive Snow Leopard

Snow leopards are one of the world’s most elusive mammals but in winter they
descend from the high Himalaya in search of food. Inhabiting some of the most
remote and mountainous regions of Central Asia, the mission to see this
enigmatic cat is really more of a pilgrimage. Other rare high altitude
wildlife and isolated Himalayan Buddhist communities only add to this quest’s
allure. The itinerary varies slightly by departure date to fit in the
different festivals.

Saturday 29 February 2020 (Flight inclusive) Stok Festival led by Valerie


* Chance to see the rare and elusive Snow leopard
* Wonderful winter walking in mountainous Ladakh – when it is cut off from
the rest of the world
* Visit ancient monasteries and attend a colourful monastic festival with
masked dancers
* Enjoy a homestay night and traditional meal with a friendly Ladakhi family
* Look out for Blue sheep, wolves, lammergeyers, Red fox, Himalayan Griffin
Vultures and Golden Eagles


Day 1 Depart London.

The group flight usually departs London Heathrow in the evening.

Day 2 Arrive Delhi.

The group flight will arrive into Delhi in the morning and we will transfer
to our hotel. Those who have made their own flight arrangements will join us
at the hotel during the day. You are free today to explore Delhi or rest
after your flight; rooms may not be available until noon but it is often
earlier than this. There is usually a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby
this evening.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 3 Fly across the Himalaya to Leh (3500m).

Usually we have a very early start today for the flight to Leh. We may have
to leave the hotel at around 2am and drive to the airport for the very early
morning but highly spectacular flight over the Himalaya to Leh. Incredibly
beautiful in winter we fly over the huge expanse of snow-capped peaks.
Landing in Leh the temperature will drop dramatically and we will need our
down jackets at the airport. If the weather is good and the flight goes on
time we should be in Leh for breakfast. The rest of the day is free to relax
and acclimatise to the altitude (3,500m). In the morning we rest and catch up
on some sleep and in the afternoon there will be a gentle orientation walk of
Leh and its bazaars.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 4
Full day at a monastic festival.

Once a year every monastery in Ladakh has a festival where the monks dress in
elaborate brocade and silk costumes and re-enact century old stories of the
Tibetan Buddhist religion. People come from all over Ladakh to the festivals
and these are a great social as well as religious occasion.

The 17th February 2020 Ex London departure will visit Shey, Tikse and Stakna
today and will spend the 21st February at the Dosmoche Festival in Leh, also
known as the Scapegoat festival, which happens in the New Year to bring
good luck for the year ahead.
The 29th February 2020 departure will spend today at the Stok Festival, which
features the appearance of oracles who go into trance like states.

The whole day will be spent at the festival and in the evening we return to
our hotel in Leh.

*Standard Hotel*

Day 5
Visit Shey, Thikse and Stakna Monasteries.

Today we visit some of the most important monasteries in the Indus Valley.
First we drive just over half an hour to Shey, once the residence of the
Ladakhi royal family. Below the old palace ruins is a small temple containing
a two-storey gilded statue of Buddha. From Shey wewalk across the fields to
Tikse, spotting for birds en route. Set on a hill it is one of the most
impressive gompas in Ladakh, It has several temples, one of which contains a
superb statue of the Future Buddha. We then drive on to Stakna, a small but
friendly monastery perched atop a huge rock. In the late afternoon we return
to Leh.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 6
Drive to Jinchen; trek to Rumbak Sumdo (3800m)

Today we leave Leh and we drive across the Indus towards Jinchen. We follow
the road past Phe to the entrance of the impressive Rumbak Gorge. We leave
the cars near a bridge and our trail takes us up into the narrow gorge and we
start our search for evidence of Snow leopard and Blue Sheep. We camp tonight
at our base camp at Rumbak Sumdo (3,800m)

*Full-service Camping*

Day 7-11
Five days wildlife spotting in and around the Rumbak, Yurutse, Husing and
Tarbuns Valleys in the Hemis National Park searching for Snow leopards and
other mammals and birds.

The next five days will usually be spent in and around the Rumbak, Yurutse,
Husing and Tarbuns Valleys in the Hemis National Park. There will be no fixed
itinerary and our days will be decided on by our expert wildlife guides –
this is to maximise the chances of seeing a Snow leopard. Our days will be
spent searching for Snow leopard and other animals which inhabit this area.
The extreme cold of winter forces the Snow leopard and other animals down
from the high altitudes they normally inhabit. Ladakh is situated at an
altitude range of 3,300m – 6,000m and hosts an incredible amount of wildlife.
It is full of endangered species including Snow leopard, Tibetan Ibex, Bharal
(Blue Sheep), Wolf, Red Fox, Ladakhi Urial and Lynx. We usually spend most of
the time at our base camp at Rumbak Sumdo, and day walks will take us into
the Rumbak Valley and further towards Yurutse and the Ganda La. We can also
explore the Husing and Tarbuns Valleys, all well-known haunts of the Snow
leopard. In 2018 the group had five good sightings of Snow leopards in this
area and in 2019 the group saw 2 Snow Leopards together from the camp at
Rumbak Sumdo. A good pair of binoculars is recommended to scan the slopes in
and around camp. We have experienced wildlife spotters (1 per 5 clients), who
will carry spotting scopes, which they will set up at camp and on ridges on
the day walks. They will also go out in the early mornings and late evenings
to search for evidence of any animal movement.
Overnight we will use a mixture of camping and home stays. Five nights will
be spent camping. We will have a full trekking crew with us including guides,
assistant guides, cook, kitchen assistants and porters. At our base camp we
have two person tents with foam mattress, dining tent with tables and chairs,
solar lights and gas heaters. There are local long drop toilet facilities. At
night hot water bottles are provided. You just need to carry your daypack
whilst out spotting. Lunch and hot drinks will be brought to us by our camp
crew. If you have a heavy camera bag it is possible to hire a private porter
to carry this for you. One night will be spent in Rumbak village, where we
will stay in a Ladakhi home stays. These are basic but comfortable local
houses. The bedrooms have thick mattresses and you can take your sleeping bag
from the camp. The dining room and bedrooms have small wood burning stoves.
The houses have a local long drop toilet. Food at the home stay will be
traditional local food and you will get chance to interact with the villagers
in their day to day life.

Our guides will be in touch with other guides and if Snow leopards have been
spotted in other areas of Ladakh we will need to be flexible and move the

*Full-service Camping*

Day 12
Return to Leh.

Today we trek back to Jinchen, where we will meet our transport and drive
back to the relative comforts of our hotel in Leh.

*Standard Hotel*

Day 13 Fly to Delhi.

An early start for the flight back to Delhi. The rest of the day is free in
Delhi for individual shopping or sightseeing.
*Standard Hotel*

Day 14
Free day in Delhi for individual sightseeing.

A free day in Delhi in case of any delays in the flight from Leh. If we fly
to Delhi on schedule then today is free for individual sightseeing. You may
want to visit Old Delhi with the magnificent Red Fort and Jami Masjid.
Humayun’s Tomb (a forerunner to the Taj Mahal) is worth a visit. In New Delhi
there is India Gate and Parliament House to see; and of course Delhi has a
wealth of interesting shops and markets. An optional day trip to Agra to
see the Taj Mahal can be arranged by your leader who will provide details and
prices. (not available on Fridays as the Taj Mahal is closed)
*Standard Hotel*

Day 15 Fly to London.

The tour ends after breakfast today. Those travelling on the group flights
will be transferred to the airport for the daytime flight back to London. The
group flights depart around lunchtime and will arrive in the UK the same day.