To go looking for the Snow Leopard would appear to be the most forlorn of forlorn quests and yet, it is in the nature of such quests that the rewards lie as much in the journeying and the search as in the stated objective.
On the borders of Tibet is the Indian district of Ladakh – probably THE best place to see Snow Leopards in the world. Here in the high, desolate grandeur of arid mountains, tourism is being leveraged to protect Snow Leopards. The Explorations Company were amongst the very first to design and operate Snow Leopards treks in collaboration with the Snow Leopard Conservancy.
Our original light footprint, low impact model is rapidly being crowded out by cheap group tours that are now threatening the fragile high-altitude eco-system. As a result we have explored a completely new and remote location, working with local trackers and home stay owners trained by the Snow Leopard Conservancy.
Our groups are very small, accompanied by an expert guide and flexible using several trackers across many valleys. We stay in a local village home stay putting money directly into the economy but can switch to a field camp at short notice if required. And we are able to stay on site longer than the package tours.
And it isn’t just Snow Leopards that you may see here. This is also the home of wolves, Ladakhi Urial – a giant sheep, Himalayan Fox, Blue Sheep, Ibex, Marmots and much else. It is also the home of a warm and hospitable but hardy mountain people whose tough life style contrasts vividly with the gentle Buddhism they practise. You will have time to visit some of their great monasteries as also their picturesque villages.
The reclusive nature of the animal, the inhuman scale and vertical topography of the habitat, the relative sparseness of Snow Leopards on the ground all combines to frustrate the seeker. But the Snow Leopard does not occupy this environment alone, it sits at the apex of a rich and diverse pyramid and in searching for this master predator we will be exploring its environment and all that live in it in some detail.
Our search will not be a random one. However inaccessible the Snow Leopard’s habitat may appear at first glance, the predator is tied to its prey and in vast and inhospitable country, the prey is concentrated in the relatively few hospitable areas. This narrows and focuses the search.
Our expedition’s concentrate on one such area in the Hemis National Park in Ladakh, south of the River Indus. This is an area that has been the location for Snow Leopard research and filming in the past.
The bonus and for many the real reward, is the exploration of the natural and human landscape of Snow Leopard country. The mountains are rugged but indescribably beautiful, as streams and rivers that bring the area to vivid life, water the valleys that seam this barren but colorful vastness.
A number of factors have shaped our programme but the most important remains the Snow Leopard. While we have detailed a daily itinerary, this could change at the discretion of your leader who will base his decisions on maximising your opportunities to see wildlife. That, and not covering ground as in a conventional trek, remains the focus of the tour.
The search for the Snow Leopard in the high Himalayas is an adventure of a lifetime that one never forgets.
Upon Arrival at Leh Airport you are met and transferred to a small and charming family-owned hotel. Leh is at 11,400 feet, so the rest of the day is at leisure to acclimatize to the high altitude and rarefied air. The two–and-a-half days scheduled here is the minimum required as you will be going to a higher altitude and will be doing a fair amount of walking.
Spend 2 days at leisure in Leh. The town has winding streets, quaint bazaars and the Royal Palace, which dominates the town. Explore the picturesquely situated monasteries at Shey and Thiksey perched high on a hill above the Indus. You could also set out for an extraordinary drive east heading towards Taglang La and the villages of Gya, Lhato and Meru.
Pass through the gorgeous village of Nimmu at the confluence of the Zanskar and the Indus, to arrive at Likir - all snow leopard country. Your two bedroom home stay offers superb views across the valley and, apart from being more comfortable than camping, puts money directly into local hands and strengthens the constituency of the snow leopard. This will be your base for the next week.
Relatively free of tourism Ulley has enveloped the first snow leopard destination – Rumbak Valley. Keeping Ulley as a base you explore three valleys on foot and using SUV’s with an exceptional tracker, gaining insights into local folklore, customs and traditions on the journey. Apart from snow leopards, the area is great for seeing urial, Ibex, wolf and Himalayan fox. Also included is an overnight stay at a snow leopard lodge.
This morning, after breakfast, say goodbye to your host and drive back to Leh town. En route you will visit the Alchi Gompa - a Buddhist monastery, known more as a monastic complex of temples. Built in the 10th century in lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as others, the creation of the monastery is accredited to the famous scholar and translator Rinchen Zangpo who established Buddhism in the Ladakh region.
The holiday was so enjoyable – lots to chat about. Tikli Bottom is a gem and we were the only guests for our short stay. We loved it there – peaceful and luxurious, and the staff were a delight – especially the cook!
Holiday to India
What an absolutely wonderful time we had in India. Your planning was perfection. Our favourites were Siana (you told us that!) and Kanker Palace…both families were wonderful in totally different ways. Welcomed with open arms we felt as though we were indeed royalty ourselves!
Holiday to India
Just a line to thank you for arranging such a fantastic trip to India for us. It was the experience of a lifetime which we will relive as we sort out our 1000 or so photos! Thank you again. P.S. We saw 4 tigers!
A holiday to India - tiger safari
The trip was a huge success and we saw our Tiger in Chitwan, a long relaxed sighting, sitting in the undergrowth washing his face, quite unperturbed by us.
A holiday to Nepal
I did just want to drop you a note to thank you and your team for looking after us so well over the past couple of weeks.
Holiday to India
Thanks for organizing our Nepal Trip – everything was wonderful. I soon realized why we had to go on these dates as GUN was an excellent guide and naturalist, I don’t know what we would have done without his assistance.
A holiday to Nepal
Just to say thank you for arranging such a wonderful holiday for us. It has been a fascinating experience. Everything worked perfectly and I can say that you gave us more than what you promised on the tin! We will definitely return and will be in touch.
A holiday to Borneo
The trip was overwhelmingly successful in all respects for every one of us. It was a trip of a lifetime and certainly one that will be in our memories forever.
A holiday to India - Rajasthan and wildlife
I just wanted to thank you so much for organising an absolutely amazing trip. We both loved it all and cannot wait to get back to India.
A holiday to Rajasthan
The kids loved Dubai but then when we reached Maldives - Banyan Tree was absolutely marvellous. The spa was fabulous , one of the best massages we have ever had.
Family Holiday to India and Maldives
Words cannot even begin to describe how amazing the trip was. First of all, the arrangements you made went perfectly. We were picked up and dropped off at every city without any glitches.
Family wildlife holiday to India
Thank you for arranging a faultless and memorable holiday in Bhutan. Having travelled quite a lot elsewhere, I can’t think of any holidays where the pluses so greatly exceeded the minuses.
A Holiday to Bhutan
Thanks so much for arranging a holiday which ticked all of the boxes, and which I think did feel appropriately special to my father given the occasion. Very memorable indeed.
A holiday to Bhutan
We had such a wonderful time in India, from the moment we landed in Mumbai we were captivated by the sights and smells.
Safari in India
I'm home safe and sound and finally adjusting to my time zone. Thank you SO much for the bottle of wine in Kathmandu and the gorgeous flowers that arrived today. How very thoughtful. No other tour company has ever done something like this before!
Holiday to India and Nepal
All in all, a fantastic trip. Thank you very much for all your help in making this happen – much appreciated!
Tiger & Photgraphic Safari in India
Take the first step on your extraordinary journey into India
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbour and catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore – Dream – Discover - Mark Twain - You can view clips of some of our own favourite discoveries here.
100% Tailor Made
- Utterly designed and tailored around you and your requirements
- Totally unique every time you travel with us
- We use only the very best hand picked guides which can make the difference between a good holiday and an outstanding one
- Established over 27 years ago we have been around longer than most
- Our specialists come from, have lived in or travelled extensively in the regions we cover
- Unparalleled knowledge provides you with the best possible experience
Making a difference
- Philanthropy is our philosophy
- Our founding principle is to always ‘put something back’
- An amount from each holiday is donated to our selected conservation and humanitarian charities
The Explorations Company are supporting Excellent Development in transforming lives and habitats for local communities and wildlife. Here is how sand dams work and their potential impact in the world's dry-lands.