Our Signature Snow Leopard Expedition is a rare opportunity to see wild snow leopards on a small group tour, guided by the worlds top expedition leaders. This snow leopard trip is based in our private luxury camp, in Hemis National Park, India, with one of the world’s highest concentrations of snow leopards.
This trip is ideal for those searching for the best snow leopard photo tour.
Harper’s Bazaar rated Voygr’s snow leopard tour as 2020’s “Top 100 Ultimate Travel Experiences.” Condé Nast Traveler featured this expedition as the 10 page cover story (UK & US) in October, 2020. The FT’s How To Spend It recommended this trip in a 10 page article in November, 2019.
2022 | 2023
Feb – Mar | 10 Guests
Starts/ends in New Delhi, India.
Domestic flights included.
From $5,752 per person.
Departures can be made private.
Bespoke departures welcomed.
This is our Signature snow leopard tour. It is different from our Classic snow leopard tour.
- The Signature snow leopard expedition to Ladakh starts and ends in New Delhi, India.
- Departures include domestic air, a hotel in Delhi on either end.
- The Signature snow leopard expedition adds specialist tour leaders to our field team. Specialist tour leaders are photographers, naturalists, historians, and highly acclaimed explorers. This is the best snow leopard photo tour out there.
- The Classic snow leopard tour starts and ends in Leh, India.
- It is guided by our expert field team consisting of our award-winning trackers and the very best English-speaking local guides and tour escorts.
- Since guides aren’t flying in from outside India, it’s also a little cheaper.
- Both tours utilize the same camp, same hotel in Leh, and include the same level of service and comfort. Both are carbon negative.
Introduction to the Snow Leopard Tour to Ladakh
An Important Note On Guiding
This Signature snow leopard expedition to Ladakh is guided by top specialist guides such as Behzad Larry, Brad Josephs, and Sebastian Kennerknecht. This is the best snow leopard tour for photographers. Behzad, Brad, and Sebastian are experienced wildlife photographers with extensive experience with snow leopards. They work in tandem with our Ladakhi Field Team, the very best in the business. If you’re looking to get better at photography, get a deeper perspective of the history and culture of this region, or want to travel with a top-notch Western naturalist, this is the expedition for you.
This tour is very similar to our Classic Snow Leopard Tour to Ladakh (10 days). The major difference is that the Classic doesn’t have specialist Western expedition leaders or naturalists on it. It also starts in Leh, instead of New Delhi. If you’re looking for a cheaper trip, without losing any of the comforts or downgrading your tracking team, book the Classic tour instead.
Our Other Snow Leopard Tours & Expeditions
This snow leopard expedition as well as our Classic Snow Leopard Tour are the most comfortable and luxurious snow leopard journeys in the world. We also have a Snow Leopard Tour to Mongolia, and a Snow Leopard Expedition to Kyrgyzstan. The journey to Mongolia is at lower altitudes, while the journey to Kyrgyzstan is tougher than either Ladakh or Mongolia. To learn more, read our extensive article, “Which Snow Leopard Tracking Tour: India, Mongolia or Kyrgyzstan?” Or give us a call.
Our 2020 snow leopard tours were yet again 100% successful.
Read about them here.
Snow Leopard Expedition Team
With a diverse set of specializations, our expedition leaders add an immense amount to any tour. If you have trouble deciding on the right one for you – just get in touch. We’ll be happy to recommend the right leader.
Behzad Larry is a professional photographer, historian, and adventurer. An avid explorer, Behzad specializes in documenting the remote reaches of the world. Through his travel photography he covers wildlife, portraiture, and landscapes in the high Himalayas, Central Asia, and the…
Brad has been a professional naturalist guide, wildlife photographer and wildlife expedition leader since he graduated from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks with a B.S. in wildlife biology in 1999. He guides Voygr’s snow leopard and Himalayan brown bear expeditions.…
Ismail Shariff is an internationally featured nature and wildlife photographer and fine art print-maker from Hyderabad, India. Ismail is a conservationist photographer and works with the Snow Leopard Trust to experience ecosystem realities first-hand to educate on the existence and…
Sebastian Kennerknecht is a wildlife and conservation photographer with over fourteen years of experience visually covering wildlife and environmental issues internationally, focusing in particular on wild cats. He has produced high quality editorial photographs, time-lapses, videos, and web content featured…
Our snow leopard tracking team are legends. Dorjay, Khenrab, and Smanla are the most well regarded field experts when it comes to snow leopards and their ecosystems in Ladakh, with over two decades working in Hemis National Park. Dorjay is widely considered to be the sharpest snow leopard spotter in the world, with over 65% of snow leopards spotted during an average season attributed to him alone. In combination, Voygr’s snow leopard teams have over seventy man years of experience tracking the grey ghost. Our teams frequently travel to snow leopard range countries to train national park rangers, provide guidance on running eco-tourism programs, and helping communities mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
Voygr Expeditions is the only Western company operating in Ladakh with full time in-country staff dedicated to snow leopard expeditions with our own infrastructure. We do not subcontract our tours to other operators and do not rent equipment from anyone.
Abdul Rashid is a mountaineer, photographer, and Voygr’s Himalayan expert. Originally from a small village in Nubra Valley by the Indo-Chinese border, he speaks 8 languages. Rashid has successfully helped clients summit the tallest peaks in Ladakh including Nun &…
Dorjay "eagle-eyes" Stanzin is probably the world's top snow leopard spotter. Hailing from the small village of Skiu in Hemis National Park, Dorjay has been working with snow leopards and conservation since 1990. Between 1992 and 1997 he helped start…
Khenrab is an award-winning snow leopard conservationist. With close to two decades as a Wildlife Guard in Hemis National Park, he is one of the keystones of conservation within the park. Having tracked, rescued, and engaged with wild snow leopards…
Rigzen hails from the high altitude hamlet of Gya, one of the oldest settlements in Ladakh. With a BSc. in Physics, Chemistry and Math, she's currently pursuing a Masters in Economics from the University of Jammu. An accomplished mountaineer, Rigzin…
Smana Tsering is a snow leopard specialist and award-winning conservationist. He has spent two decades pushing conservation in Hemis National Park, India as a Wildlife Guard. Smanla has tracked, rescued, and engaged with wild snow leopard for his whole career…
Frequently Asked Questions About The Snow Leopard Expedition
What is the best time to go on a snow leopard tour?
Snow leopard tours take place in the winter from November to Mid-April. The very best time during this season is usually in February and March, which overlaps with snow leopard mating season.
These elusive cats are also seen during the spring, summer, and autumn, but sightings are much fewer and the distances are usually much greater. Winter is the best time to see them because they tend to move down to lower altitudes as the upper reaches of the mountains are in deeper snow cover.
What are the chances of actually seeing a snow leopard?
Very high! Voygr’s snow leopard tours have a 100% success rate. While we cannot guarantee that you’ll see a snow leopard, traveling with us means using the very best trackers, staying in the heart of snow leopard territory, and benefiting from our years of experience understanding animal behavior, habitat, and prey.
What optics do you use on a snow leopard expedition?
Our snow leopard tour is the best available, and so our guests always have access to top-of-the-line Swarovski BTX 95 scopes, the very best in optics available. All our trackers and spotters are outfitted with Swarovski optics and we always have scopes on hand for the viewing pleasure of our guests.
Why is Voygr the expert at tracking snow leopards?
Voygr Expeditions is the world’s leading supplier of high-end snow leopard tours. Our tours employ the world’s leading trackers and expedition crews and our camps are exceptional for their expedition luxury. Deploying camps allows us to place ourselves in prime snow leopard habitat instead of being in a village, surrounded by noise, people, and loads of traffic. It also guarantees that our guests get a truly immersive experience in the incredible ecosystem that is home to the snow leopard. Our camps are superbly appointed with heated and insulated tents, fine-dining, and fantastic attention to detail. High tech temperature sensors across the camp allow our team to keep an eye on guest warmth and comfort 24 hours a day. In Ladakh, 90% of our staff are locals and from within the Hemis National Park area. This allows us to ensure that we’re putting critical financial resources into the communities who live on the front-lines of conservation.
Snow leopards, after the Amur leopard (also a phenomenal Voygr tour), are one of the rarest big cats to see. Besides a fantastic tour operator, you also need really good luck. We take a lot of pride in providing the best guides, services, and expertise available to increase your chances of finding the ghost of the mountains on the best possible experience.
Who guides Voygr's snow leopard expeditions?
The very best trackers on earth work with expedition leaders with years of guiding experience to create the ultimate experience. Every guide that leads one of Voygr’s snow leopard tours brings a unique set of skills, and knowledge to our journeys. Some are renowned photographers, having documented the High Asian wildlife across various habitats, others naturalists with two decades of experience working with animals and wilderness across the world.
Our trackers are legends. Dorjay, Khenrab, and Smanla are the most well regarded field experts when it comes to snow leopards and their ecosystems in Ladakh, with over two decades working in Hemis National Park. Dorjay is widely considered to be the sharpest snow leopard spotter in the world, with over 65% of sightings during an average season attributed to him alone. In combination, Voygr’s teams have over seventy man years of experience tracking the grey ghost. Our teams frequently travel to snow leopard range countries to train national park rangers, provide guidance on running eco-tourism programs, and helping communities mitigate human-wildlife conflict.
Why is Ladakh the best choice for a snow leopard expedition?
Ladakh, sandwiched between the Great Himalayas, the mighty Karakoram range, and the Tibetan Plateau, is an exceptional region. It is isolated by some of the world’s highest mountains yet linked by trade routes to the ancient trading towns of Western China, Central Asia, and the dusty plains of India. Ladakh has been a bastion of the Great Silk Route for over a millennium. Today, Ladakh’s ancient mix of Tibetan Buddhist and Balti Muslim cultures are a pleasure to explore and photograph with our guests. While cultural exploration and the stunning landscapes of the region keep us busy through the springs and summers, the cold Trans-Himalayan winter brings with it the rarest wildlife encounter on earth.
A snow leopard tour in Ladakh requires expert tracking, top notch logistics, high-end winter gear, a well trained support crew, and great luck. Traveling with a company like Voygr Expeditions puts the odds in your favor.
Tracking these elusive cats in one of the highest mountain ranges on earth is no mean feat. Dorjay, Khenrab, and Smanla, our lead trackers have over two decades of experience in Ladakh. If you can think of any famous snow leopard image or the recent award-winning film sequences of snow leopards shown in BBC’s Planet Earth II or National Geographic’s Hostile Planet, you know these trackers. Watching them pick up the trail of a snow leopard, or Tibetan wolf, that has passed by in the night is amazing. When we actually spot the ghost cat, there is a feeling of awe and wonderment. Our clients, many of whom have dreamt of this encounter, often feel their eyes well with tears. Then the cameras erupt in a frenzy of shutters.
How do you find a snow leopard in the wild?
Snow leopards are fantastically adapted to life in these high mountains. Their fur is incredibly dense, with over 4000 hairs per square centimeter. Their long tail, ranging from 75-90% of their head-body length, acts as a balancing organ, allowing it to descend and ascend rapidly on sleep slopes. Snow leopards can to leap over 15 meters. The tail also doubles as a dense blanket, insulating the paws and head from the biting cold at high altitudes.
On our journeys Voygr’s phenomenal trackers use a variety of skills to find these elusive cats. While they use high-powered scopes through the day to search for movement on the slopes, many high ridges also provide valuable clues. Scrape markings are the most common type of signs left by snow leopards. These are often found on the top of ridges, near marking rocks, at the confluence of streams and gorges, and at the base of cliffs. Snow leopards also communicate with each other by spraying urine at certain well-trafficked sites, which our snow leopard trackers routinely visit and inspect to gauge recency and direction of snow leopard movement.
Not only are these cats rare, they also cover enormous territories. Recent research indicates that there may be between 4-5 snow leopards in 100 square kilometers in what would be considered a densely populated area for snow leopards in Ladakh, such as in Hemis National Park.
Another variable for a successful tour is understanding prey behavior and movement. In Ladakh, the snow leopard’s primary prey base are wild sheep and goats such as the blue sheep (Bharal), the Asiatic Ibex, and the Ladakhi Urial. However, snow leopards are also known to prey on smaller mammals such as marmots, hares, pikas, and even some birds. On average, snow leopards can successfully kill every 8-10 days with 70-90% of attempts at hunting resulting in failure. Thus, Voygr’s trackers also monitor and look for herds of prey animals such as blue sheep. Finding and tracking a decent sized herd of such mountain sheep over a few days usually results in discovering a snow leopard that is also following the sheep.
Where should I go on a snow leopard expedition?
We recommend a tour with our trackers in Ladakh, Mongolia, and Kyrgyzstan for the best chances of seeing one. Ladakh has the highest rates of success. This is because our tours in Ladakh take place in terrain that is much steeper than that in other parts of the world. This means that the cats need to traverse high ridges to look at prey movement on either side, which allows trackers with high powered scopes to spot them when they move at dawn and dusk.
Voygr operates its tours in Ladakh within Hemis National Park and is currently doing the groundwork by training rangers and building our community focused conservation program in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. While snow leopards have been spotted across Ladakh and the remoteness of the region allows for a decent population of prey animals (relatively speaking), sound conservation strategy dictates that Hemis National Park is the best place to see snow leopards in Ladakh and it is also the most sustainable place to run these tours.
How do you deal with the cold on a snow leopard expedition?
The best time to see snow leopards is peak winter. One of the reasons Voygr Expeditions is the best tour operator for snow leopard tours is because our expedition infrastructure is second to none! Our custom made tents allow us access to prime habitat while keeping our guests warm and toasty.
Voygr upgrades infrastructure every single season to keep up to date with the latest improvements in remote expedition equipment and constantly innovates to come up with its own solutions. We employ several high-tech temperature sensors that allow our field team to continuously monitor data. This active data collection of temperatures for the outside, for every guest tent and for our facility tents allows them to proactively manage guest comfort. This data driven approach also allows us to fine-tune insulation, heat delivery, and over all expedition comfort. Voygr also uses several insulation techniques that we have developed in-house to keep our tents super-warm.
So how cold does it get? It can get down to -20ºC / -4ºF at night during peak season, with day-time highs around 3ºC / 37ºF. Our guest tents are heated through the night, with guests retaining the flexibility to control their own heat. While we’ve seen guest tents heated up to an ambient temperature of 19ºC / 66ºF, most guests keep tent temperature during the night somewhere between 5ºC / 41ºF and 9ºC / 48ºF. This is because our ultra warm expedition sleeping bags are rated to -40ºC / -40ºF, which means that a comfortable body temperature is achieved at much lower ambient temperatures inside the tent. We notice guests lower the temperature right before getting into the sleeping bags and will often increase it in the morning right before getting out of the sleeping bags, or ask one of our dining staff to kick up the heating when they deliver piping hot coffee or tea to their bedside in the morning.
Some guests also choose to use the sleeping bags as a duvet and crank up the heat at night to balance the warmth. Whatever works for you – works for us! Our award-winning expedition infrastructure will keep you comfortable on a Voygr snow leopard tour no matter the conditions.
Click the thumbnail below to view in detail how an average tent cycles through heating over a 48 hour period and how it compares to average outside temperatures at the same time and date. Measurements are taken for the entire season and analyzed in detail to allow our team to continuously make data-driven decisions on providing the best snow leopard tour on earth.
Testimonials for the Snow Leopard Expedition
Exceptional journeys get exceptional reviews.
5/5 stars from every guest that’s ever reviewed us.
A True Adventure
This is the second time I've traveled with Voygr Expeditions, and I'm sure to come back for more. What makes Voygr so special is that they have created adventures that are deeply aligned with and respectful of the land, the…continue reading →
This adventure absolutely exceeded my expectations. It was a unique combination of being totally in nature with many upscale comforts. The staff was exceptional, they anticipated your every need and were especially accommodating. I have such respect for everyone who…continue reading →
Exceptional Snow Leopard Expedition
Just came back from an 8-night trekking expedition with the Voygr crew. Wow. Unbelievable camp experience with some nice amenities (e.g. cots/carpets/side tables in the tents), and great food prepared 3x daily (lunch was delivered to us wherever we were…continue reading →
Fantastic team that made a dream come true
The recent expedition for snow leopards with Behzad, Rashid, Khenrab, Dorje, Sajan and team was outstanding. The communication from the first e-mail enquiring about the trip to the time we got back, was very good. • The expedition was very…continue reading →
My week with Snow Leopards in the Himalayas
I had the great good fortune to hear about Voygr Expeditions from Brad Josephs, who was our head guide on the trip I took in February. We camped for eight nights at an altitude of just below 4,000 meters in…continue reading →
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Why Book With Voygr?
Read more about Voygr Expeditions to learn about our ethics, how giving back to the communities we travel to is part of our DNA, and what steps we take to actively preserve our planet.