11 Day Snow Leopard Expedition in Ladakh

Snow Leopard Expedition Snow Leopard Safari

Snow Leopard Tour Snow Leopard Safari Snow Leopard Expedition

Snow Leopard, Hemis National Park

The Snow Leopard Expedition is a rare opportunity to spot elusive Snow Leopards in Ladakh. Use the same guides and trackers as BBC’s Planet Earth II. The main part of this trip takes place in Hemis National Park in Ladakh, with one of the world’s highest concentration of snow leopards.

This tour has been rated as one of 100 Ultimate Travel Experiences by Harper’s Bazaar in 2020.
Internal flights are not included.


Feb 2 – Feb 12, 2021 (1 spot left)
Feb 17 – Feb 27, 2021 (Open)
Mar 4 – Mar 14, 2021 (3 spots left)
Mar 19 – Mar 29, 2021 (Open)
Group Size: 7
Ladakh, India

Also, spaces left on our 14 day tour.
Duration: 11 Days
US $6,986 p.p.
Single Supplement : US $846

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Our Famed Field Teams

A 100% success rate for snow leopard tours with world-leading conservationists, scientists, film-makers, and naturalists on staff.

The Best Place to See Snow Leopards

Hemis National Park in Ladakh offers you the best chances to find the ghost of the mountains.

The BEST Trackers

Nothing beats experience. Trackers with 2 decades in the field & access to the very best equipment in the world, such as Swarovski optics.

High-Tech & Ultra-Warm Camps

Heated tents, ultra-warm sleeping bags and duvets, 5 course meals, and spectacular attention to detail make us one of the world’s ultimate experiences.

Details

Snow Leopard Expedition

The high reaches of the Ladakh Range are prime territory for the magnificent Snow Leopard. As the winter sets in and the snow line descends, these shy and elusive creatures move down to lower altitudes in search of their prey, the bhairal, urial, and the arghali, the mountain sheep and antelope of this region. We’ll explore Hemis National Park with our expert spotters Khenrab and Namgyal to spot and track snow leopards on this once-in-a-lifetime snow leopard tour.

This 14 day adventure starts off with a day in Delhi before we head up to the high mountains of Ladakh. A few easy days of sightseeing initially allows us to gently acclimatize to the 10,000+ foot altitude of Leh. After that we head off on a short trek to a small village within the national park. Here we’ll be hosted in camps that will afford us warm shelter on cold winter nights and be our base as we explore the nearby area in search of the ghost of the mountains.

Hemis National Park is India’s largest conservation area with over 1,700 square miles of territory. The park lies within the Karakoram-West Tibetan Plateau alpine steppe ecoregion, and contains pine forests, alpine shrublands and meadows, and alpine tundra. Most reports indicate that the park is home to a large breeding population of snow leopards mainly in the Rumbak and Matho area.

We go above and beyond to make your trip memorable.

Who better to organise a private expedition here than the operator that guided the BBC’s Planet Earth II team to the first on-camera capture of four snow leopards together in the wild.”- Financial Times, How to Spend It, November 3, 2018

If you want the ultimate adventure-moon, This. Is. It. Think bespoke itineraries, luxury camps, and genuine off-the-beaten-track experiences with locals.”- Condé Nast Brides, March/April 2019.

Also read our 100% 5 Star Trip Advisor Reviews.

Snow Leopard Tour

Conservation is at the heart of every thing we do. Voygr Expeditions is proud to donate $300 per booking to the Snow Leopard Trust and commit 20% of its annual profits to the High Asia Habitat Fund to further conservation in front-line communities across Central Asia. Besides this our trackers and naturalists provide trainings to rangers in Central Asia as well as access to high-tech equipment and gear to preserve critical habitat on the world’s highest frontiers.

Voygr’s Expert Guides

Khenrab Phuntsog
If you’ve seen the “Mountains” episode of the BBC’s Planet Earth II, which features spectacular footage of snow leopards in Hemis National Park, you’ve seen the tracking abilities and local knowledge of Khenrab. Khenrab hails from the small village of Chilling, where he grew up watching snow leopards and is renowned for his knowledge of the region and of snow leopard behavior. Check out this video of Khenrab tracking.

Abdul Rashid
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.
Besides leading snow leopard expeditions in Ladakh and Kyrgyzstan, Rashid has successfully helped clients summit the tallest peaks in Ladakh including Nun & Kun (7,125m & 7,077m), Saser (7,518m), Chamser (6,634m), Lingser (6,666m), and Stok Kangri (6,153m) among others in his 20 year career as a mountain guide. He has led expeditions for explorers and students across the Himalayas. Rashid is a certified Advanced Mountaineer from the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering in Uttarkashi. Apart from Voygr’s mountain expeditions, Rashid specializes in organizing logistics, location scouting, and expeditionary requirements for various photo and filming clients. Previous high profile clients have included both National Geographic and The Discovery Channel. Rashid lives in Leh with his family.

Behzad J. Larry
Behzad is a professional photographer, an expert on Ladakh and Central Asia, and a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Over the past 6 years, he has documented Ladakh’s culture, wildlife, and incredible landscapes in detail for a variety of magazines. An avid explorer, Behzad specializes in exploring the remote reaches of the world through his travel photography with an emphasis on portraiture and landscapes in the high Himalayas, Central Asia, and the Tibetan Plateau. On this tour he will teach you tricks that will get you better at taking wildlife photos and act as your expedition leader. View his website here.

This is a one of a kind full expedition with multiple guides, expert spotters, Swarovski BTX 95 scopes. experienced expedition cooks, helpers, porters, and 20+ horses.


US $6,986 p.p. 

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Wildlife in the Park

Along with the Snow Leopard the Park is home to Argali (Great Tibetan Sheep), Bharal (Blue Sheep), Shapu (Ladakhi Urial), and plenty of domesticated yaks. A small population of the Asiatic Ibex is also present in Hemis. Other predators besides the snow leopard include the Tibetan wolf, the Eurasian brown bear (endangered in India), and the red fox. Small mammals include the Himalayan marmot, mountain weasel, and the Himalayan mouse hare.

The park is a good place to study Himalayan and Trans-Himalayan birds of prey including the golden eagle, the lammergeier vulture, and the Himalayan griffon vulture. The Rumbak Valley offers good opportunities for birdwatching, including several Tibetan species not common in other parts of India. Birds present here include brown accentor, robin accentor, Tickell’s leaf warbler, streaked rosefinch, Tibetan snowfinch, chukar, fork-tailed swift, red-billed chough, Himalayan snowcock, and the fire-fronted serin.

16 mammal species and 73 bird species have been recorded in the park so far.

Quick Itinerary for the Snow Leopard Expedition

Day 1. Arrive in Leh, India
Fly to Leh. Check in to the Grand Dragon Hotel and slowly acclimatize to the altitude. (B)
Day 2. Explore Leh A walking tour of Leh will allow you to flex your limbs and take in the sights of this wonderful town. (B)
Day 3. Drive to Camp. Here’s where the fun begins! We’ll drive about an hour and a half from Leh to where the road ends. This is our base camp. (B, L, D)
Day 3 – Day 9. Wildlife viewing and tracking. We’ll explore the surrounding areas within Hemis National Park as we track the Snow Leopard, the Tibetan Wolf, the Markhor, Arghali, and Urial through the area. The landscape and geology of the area are as fascinating as the wildlife we’ll seek. We’ll stay tuned and follow up on nearby snow leopard sightings. (B, L, D)
Day 10. Back to Leh, India We’ll head back to Leh today. Rest. Relax. Recover. Enjoy your hot shower! (B)
Day 11. Fly to Delhi, India Head back to Delhi. Or ask us about a tour extension.

B = Breakfast. L = Lunch. D = Dinner.

What’s Included in the Snow Leopard Expedition

  • Behzad J. Larry, photographer, adventurer, and historian, as your expedition leader. (Leading Feb 17 expedition)
  • Abdul Rashid, photographer, snow leopard expert, and mountaineer (Leading Feb 2, March 4, March 19 expeditions)
  • Khenrab Phuntsog, our expert Snow Leopard spotter (BBC Planet Earth II Expedition Lead Guide) (All expeditions)
  • Accommodation in the Grand Dragon Hotel in Leh with breakfast, on twin-sharing. (Single extra.)
  • Accommodation in our spacious custom insulated tents, full down sleeping bags, and full board while camping.
  • All road journeys via Toyota Innovas or Tempos
  • Pre-trip advice and briefing
  • Group medical kit and oxygen cylinder for emergencies.
  • Access to a Gamow Bag for high-altitude emergencies.
  • Austrian and Swiss full down sleeping bags (Rated to -40ºC)

What’s NOT Included

  • International flights
  • Domestic flights
  • Visa for India
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as alcoholic drinks, beverages, gifts, calls, laundry, hot showers, snacks, battery charging etc.
  • Gratuities
  • Personal porter ($590)

Single accommodations are $846 extra per person.

Please read Voygr’s terms & conditions for further details.

Add a Camera Trapping Workshop to your Expedition.

Since most guests can only take away a week or two to spend time photographing snow leopards, camera trapping can be an exponential force-multiplier, working for months at a time for the right chance to capture an up-close behavioral shot. Voygr’s teams have helped secure snow leopard footage for the BBC, NatGeo, Discovery Channel, and others. Learn more about our Camera Trapping Add-On.

US $6,986 p.p.

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Itinerary

Full Itinerary for the Snow Leopard Expedition

Winter Snow Leopard Tour

Snow Leopard Expedition Day 1 Snow Leopard Safari
Delhi to Leh
An early wake-up call today as we catch the morning flight to the Trans-Himalayan town of Leh. Leh straddles the old silk route and was a nexus of important Central Asian trade routes till the late 1950’s. Today the bustling town serves as an entry point to a dozen different types of mountain and high altitude adventures. We’ll check-in to our hotel in Leh, the Grand Dragon, and spend the day at a pace that is slower than normal to properly acclimatize to the high altitude. We recommend reading a book, drinking a few cups of tea, and enjoying the view. Time is the best way to acclimatize. In the evening we’ll have a welcome dinner and trip briefing with the whole crew. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Grand Dragon Hotel.

Snow Leopard Expedition Day 2Snow Leopard Safari
Walking tour of Leh.
Stretch your legs and continue to acclimatize on today’s guided tour of the old town of Leh, the Leh Palace, and Namgyal Tsemo, the beautiful 16th century monument to victory that crowns the central peak in Leh. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the Grand Dragon Hotel

Snow Leopard Expedition Day 3Snow Leopard Safari
Leh to Voygr Snow Leopard Camp. Trek begins.
We’ll set out for Hemis National Park today with an hour and a half drive to our camp. Spend the daylight hours searching for the elusive ghost of the mountains with our field teams and the evenings around the dining room fire. Breakfast, lunch, dinner at Camp, or packed

Snow Leopard Expedition Day 4 – 9 Snow Leopard Safari
Exploring Hemis National Park
We’ll explore Hemis National Park with out expert spotters on the look out for wildlife such as the Argali (Great Tibetan Sheep), Bharal (Blue Sheep), Shapu (Ladakhi Urial), and the elusive Snow Leopard. We will move depending on our spotting success and intel reports of snow leopard spotting around the valleys. Each day will consist of some driving and some hiking. There will be opportunities to visit some local homes and villages as well. Breakfast, lunch, dinner at Camp, or packed.

Snow Leopard Expedition Day 10 Snow Leopard Safari
Drive to Leh
Drive to Leh. Free day to rest, relax, and explore Leh. If you’re interested in picking up some souvenirs or antiques, one of our guides can take you shopping. Breakfast, lunch, dinner at the Grand Dragon Hotel.

Snow Leopard Expedition Day 11 Snow Leopard Safari
Fly to Delhi
Say goodbye to the mountains and fly to Delhi in the morning.

US $6,986 p.p.

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Accommodations

Accommodations on your Snow Leopard Expedition

The Grand Dragon Hotel
Leh
The Grand Dragon is a luxurious hotel located a few minutes walk from the main market of Leh. The warm hospitality and traditional Ladakhi friendliness of the staff keep you warm and comfortable in the cold Trans Himalayan winter.

The Voygr Camps
Hemis National Park
Voygr has custom canvas tents with heating and interior insulation that are warm! Comfortable mattresses, fine hand-woven rugs from Afghanistan, and beautifully hand-painted tables add luxury to an expedition camp. Tents can comfortably house two guests with space in between the cots. The camps also have heated dining tents and lounge tents where you can relax around a fire with a hot toddy or martini after a day of snow leopard tracking. Hot water to wash-up is always available in our heated shower tent.

Worried about the cold? Don’t be!

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. In fact, warmer than the majority of guests houses and lodges.

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.

Snow Leopard Tour

US $6,986 p.p.

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Packing

So what should you pack on a Snow Leopard Expedition?

Hemis National Park is located in the Ladakh Range that runs from the Great Himalayan Range into the high Karakoram. February will be mid-winter and quite cold. Average temperatures in Ladakh in February and March range from a low of -20º C (-4º F) to a high of 10º C (39º F).

While the cold can be a little biting, it is also what brings the Snow Leopards down from the higher elevations and makes snow leopard tours possible.

Your Voygr crew will endeavor to keep you warm and well hydrated through the day with hot drinking water, plentiful tea, and delicious hot food. Here’s what we suggest you pack to keep your body happy.

Clothing for your Snow Leopard Expedition

Outerwear

  • waterproof/breathable jacket
  • waterproof/breathable pants
  • insulated parka (preferably goose-down)
  • fleece jacket or wool sweater
  • synthetic or softshell hiking pants
  • fleece pants

Base Layer

  • expedition-weight long john bottoms
  • expedition-weight long john top
  • midweight long john top
  • midweight long john bottoms
  • long sleeve T-shirt
  • synthetic briefs
  • synthetic sports bra

Accessories

  • wool or fleece hat
  • balaclava
  • midweight wool or fleece gloves
  • waterproof cold weather gloves

Footwear

  • insulated camp booties
  • waterproof hiking boots (insulated is best)
  • wool or synthetic socks (3)
  • liner socks (2)

Extras

  • sun hat
  • bandanna

Spotting Equipment for the Snow Leopard Expedition

  • Spotting scope (with tripod) or binoculars.
  • We provide a limited number of Swarovski Optik BTX 30-75×95 spotting scopes, which are considered to be the best. Both our spotters will be equipped with these. While you can always look through the Spotters’ scopes, we highly recommend bringing a pair of your own binoculars or a spotting scope to maximize viewing opportunity when a snow leopard is spotted.
  • Camera. If you’re shooting with a DSLR, we recommend at least a 400mm lens with a TC.
  • Plenty of extra batteries, since the cold saps their power.

Personal Equipment for the Snow Leopard Expedition

  • Water resistant duffel bag (don’t bring a suitcase as it’s hard to load on a horse)
  • trekking poles (if you like using them)
  • headlamp w/extra batteries and bulb
  • Water bottle
  • pocket knife or multitool
  • sunglasses
  • personal medications
  • chemical heat packs (if you like them)
  • stuff sacks
  • sunscreen (SPF 50+)
  • lip balm (SPF 50+)

US $6,986 p.p.

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For me?

Is this snow leopard expedition the right adventure for me?

Snow Leopards are some of the most elusive animals on earth. Spotting them is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

However, the terrain they live in is high, harsh, and difficult. Participants on our Snow Leopard Tour must be relatively fit, have medical clearance from their physician to be at high altitudes (above 10,000 feet), and should be able to walk 4-7 kilometers (2.5 – 4.5 miles) per day in sometimes rough, mountainous terrain. There are always plenty of staff around to help you

Tracking these ghosts of the mountains is not an exact science, but we do have world class expert spotters and trackers on hand. Khenrab Phuntsog was the chief guide for BBC’s spectacular snow leopard filming in the new Planet Earth II, shot exactly where we will be. Our expert spotters rely on intelligence gathered from local villages, forest department officials, and their own knowledge of the individual cats.

March in Ladakh is quite cold. While the sun is out, temperatures remain around freezing or even above freezing. However, as the sun goes down, temperatures plummet and it can get quite cold. Voygr’s got some great sleeping bags and fantastic tents. Our tents are heavy canvas bell tents with insulation that we’ve designed and innovated, furnished with carpets, beds, and state of the art sleeping bag systems that are rated to -40ºC/F. You’ll be comfortably warm in your tents, but you’ll still need to be able to cope with the rigors of a winter expedition.

Unlike an African safari, this wildlife spotting expedition is tough, but it is incredibly rewarding should you be prepared to rough it out. We’ve selected amazing hotels in Delhi and Leh so you can get a relaxing start and end to the trip.

We promise you, the sight of a Snow Leopard in the wild is something you will never forget.

US $6,986 p.p.

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Images & Trip Report

2017 FIELD REPORT

100% of snow leopard tours operated by Voygr Expeditions had success.
23 snow leopard sightings between January and April.
7 Tibetan wolf sightings,
2 Eurasian lynx sightings.

2018 FIELD REPORT

100% of snow leopard tours operated by Voygr Expeditions had success.
29 snow leopard sightings between January and April.
12 Tibetan wolf sightings,
4 Eurasian lynx sightings.

2019 FIELD REPORT

100% of snow leopard tours operated by Voygr Expeditions had success.
37 snow leopard sightings between January and April.
18 Tibetan wolf sightings,
6 Eurasian lynx sightings.

2020 FIELD REPORT

100% of snow leopard tours operated by Voygr Expeditions had success.
30 snow leopard sightings in 34 tracking days between January and March.
8 Tibetan wolf sightings,
9 Eurasian lynx sightings.
Season cut short due to COVID-19.

All expeditions see hundreds of blue sheep, and various birds including the chukar, Himalayan snowcock, Tibetan snowcock, red and yellow billed choughs, white-browed tit warbler, lammergeirs, golden eagles, Himalayan griffons, robin accentor, fire-fronted serin, Tibetan partridge, and many more.

 

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