Snow Leopard Trail
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- Trip duration : 15 days
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This epic adventure takes you to Hemis National Park in Ladakh, India's best-protected area for Snow Leopards and a good place to sight this magnificent cat. Being whitish-grey in color (tinged with yellow) and patterned with dark grey rosettes and spots, the Snow Leopard exhibits superb camouflage for its mountain environment of bare rocks and snow. It is on account of its reclusive nature that it is often referred to as the Grey Ghost of the Himalayas.
Since Snow Leopards are generally found at elevations between 3000 - 4500m, the trek takes you through stunning Himalayan alpine and sub-alpine zones where vegetation is sparse and temperatures are extreme. Snow Leopards are most active at dawn and dusk and show a strong preference for cliffy habitat with moderately to very broken terrain, rocky outcrops and ravines. They are opportunistic predators and are known to take prey up to three times their own weight, though a large part of their diet comprises of small prey like marmots, pika, hare, birds and domestic livestock
Accompanying us are local trackers whose local expertise in this harsh terrain and their intrinsic training to look for the minutest evidences like pugmarks, scrapes and scats to track this elusive cat, is unmatched. While the sighting of this mysterious cat can in no way be guaranteed, and if this elusive leopard is sighted it is often at a distance where a spotting scope is required. The Snow Leopard Trek offers a unique opportunity to understand this amazing specimen and its habitat while trekking through some spectacular scenery.
The present global distribution of Snow Leopards is in the high mountain ranges of Central Asia scattered over 12 countries in fragmented habitats. Highly endangered throughout its range in Asia, the loss of habitat and prey, poaching and retaliation killings blamed for livestock losses have reduced its numbers to dangerously low levels. Adventure Zambuling treks has completed this favolous trial many times.
Day - 01:
Arrive Delhi airport and transfer to hotel, followed by tour briefing and orientation in the morning. Afternoon visit some important sites of Old and New Delhi. Overnight at hotel
Day - 02:
Delhi - Leh. In time transfer to airport to board the flight for Leh. Arrive Leh and transfer to hotel. Rest of the day at leisure / acclimatization. Overnight at hotel.
Day - 03:
Leh. Day at leisure for acclimatization. Overnight at hotel.
Day - 04:
Leh. Full day visit Shey, Thiksey and Hemis monasteries around Leh. Overnight at hotel.
You will first visit Shey Palace and Monastery. The palace and adjacent fort are in ruins but the monastery is in use to this day. Inside is a 39-foot statue made of gilded copper of the Sakyamuni Buddha. Thikse Gompa is an impressive imitation of Lhasa’s Potala Palace – dramatically perched on a slope overlooking the Indus Valley. Within one of the newly built structures lies a three-story statue of the Maitreya Buddha, one of the most beautiful pieces of religious art in Ladakh. Founded in the 1630s by Stags-Tsang-Ras-Pa under the royal patronage of the great ruler of Ladakh, Sengge Namgyal, Hemis is the largest and richest Monastery in Ladakh. In the evening you can explore at your leisure the Leh markets
Day - 05:
Leh. Morning walk around Leh Palace. Afternoon at leisure to make last minute arrangements for the trek. Overnight at hotel.
Leh Palace, a building in the grand tradition of Tibetan architecture said to have inspired from the famous Potala in Lhasa, which was built half a century later. The palace was built in the 17th century and had nine storeys . It was the home of the royal family until they were exiled to Stok in the 1830s. Within the palace are Buddhist wall paintings, centuries old 'tankas' or painted scrolls and other artefacts. Above the palace, at the top of the Namgyal hill, is the Victory Tower, built to commemorate Ladakh's victory over the Balti Kashmir armies in the early 16th century.
Day - 06:
Drive from Leh to Zingchen (approx 2 hours drive) and then trek to Husing (approx 2 hour 30 minutes) where your camp will be setup. Husing is at the intersection of three prominent valleys well known for sightings of Snow Leopard and known globally as “the Snow Leopard World Capital”. We make Husing campsite our base camp as we venture out for the next day towards the many by-valleys that dissipate out of the Husing pastureland.
Day - 07:
Hemis National Park. Full day explore Husing Valley. Overnight in tent.
Day - 08:
Today your local expert will take you on an early morning excursion to the trails frequented by the ever elusive Snow leopard. Throughout the day you will learn how to interpret the movements of the leopard through local art and techniques of smelling of rock spray (smell of urine of the leopard), reading of pug marks, scrape (digging of ground by the animal), scat (stool) and rock-face rubbing of the snow leopard. Your trip leader and expert will also share local traditional knowledge on how to identify the hunt patterns and kill spots of the snow leopard
Day - 9 :
Hemis National Park. Morning explore the valley and later in the afternoon hike around Kharlung. Overnight in tent.
Day - 10 :
Today we break camp and shift towards the upper Rumbak Valley towards a place locally known as “Rumbak Doh” where we stay in local village houses and continue our search for the elusive Cat (approx 1 hour trek). Home-stays offer you a unique opportunity to stay with and share the culture of the Ladakhi people in remote villages during the night and explore the rugged habitat of the endangered snow leopard during the day. By staying with the local people of Ladakh you help generate an income for the villagers through tourism and also in promoting the benefits of “snow leopard tourism”. Rumbak Doh also offers excellent vistas into the higher ridges where the snow leopards hunt, so we can maximise our chances of spotting snow leopards at every opportunity.
Day - 11 :
Hemis National Park. Morning explore the surrounding area. Later continue return trek to Rumbak valley. Overnight in tents.
Day 12 :
Hemis National Park – Leh. Morning continue return trek to Zingchen and drive back to Leh. Arrive Leh and check in at hotel. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13 :
Leh, Full day at leisure or free for optional activities. Overnight at hotel.
Day 14 :
Leh - Delhi. In time transfer to airport to board the flight for Delhi. Arrive Delhi and transfer to hotel with rest of the day at leisure or free for optional activities. Overnight at hotel.
Day 15 :
Depart Delhi . Day at leisure or free for optional activities or visit Taj Mahal at Agra. In time transfer to Delhi airport to board the flight for onward destination.