We wanted to see snow leopards and we wanted an adventure. Our expectations were exceeded! This trip delivered in spades. It was a game changer for us. How we travel going forward will be forever influenced by this trip. And it wouldn’t have been so incredible without Voygr.
We couldn’t have had the deep and broad connective experience we had without Voygr’s:
– close, influential network in the region, which provided amazing ‘access’
– the care and expertise of the individuals Rashid, Khenrab, Dorjay, Sajan and broader team supporting us (emphasis on the word ‘care’ – expertise was overflowing but it was the care factor that warmed up the very cold days and nights)
– the effort from everyone to ensure our experiences with wildlife, with the communities, in/around camp, out hiking etc. were maximised at every opportunity
– the support of the team to help us manage well in the harsh altitude and super cold winter conditions (nourishment, warmth, protection, equipment).
What did we like best? For us, the most memorable experiences traveling are those when we feel as though we are immersed in the environment and culture of a place, and when we feel as though we are learning and contributing in some small way to something important (in the context of the protection and prosperity of wildlife and the natural world). This is what we loved most on this trip. Voygr gave us access and opportunity to have this type of experience. It felt very personal and very ‘big’ if that makes sense. Hard to find words really, and we’re still trying to process how amazing it was. We observed the incredible wildlife (including rare snow leopards), learned the challenges and opportunities of the region, met local villagers and learned their way of life, experienced the harsh environment, felt part of the beautiful mountains and valleys. Overwhelmingly sensational!
What did we like least? Nothing really! But be warned if you go in January everything is going to freeze. Everything! Moisturizer, toothpaste…. haha! So be prepared for that!
A few extra thoughts:
We didn’t have any problem with our camera equipment in the cold, we were able to charge our batteries each night (and kept spare batteries warm in our pockets). We did take our own little power pack for the iPhone which was super helpful out in the field (we took a lot of landscape shots and videos with the phone so having it outside the batteries could run out super quick!).
Don’t be tempted to stay in your warm sleeping bag too long in the mornings! It’s prime spotting time! The team will let you know if they spot any wildlife but if you’re still tucked up, by the time you get your clothes on and get up there (huffing and puffing, everything is harder at altitude!) you can miss that wolf on the ridge line or that snow leopard as it disappears over the ridge.
Before leaving home for the trip and while we were in Leh acclimatising before starting the expedition we got good, detailed advice on so many things from both Behzad and Rashid, which we followed to the letter. And we’re so glad we did, we’re so thankful. They really know what they are doing and they cared about setting us up for success. Follow their advice.
By the way, our expedition was for 8 nights in Hemis National Park. And even though we didn’t see a snow leopard until the evening of the 6th day, at no time did we think that we wouldn’t see one because we had full confidence in the expertise of the team. And aside from that we had such a fulfilling wildlife experience in the lead up to the 6th day observing lynx, wolves, blue sheep and other wildlife. It was truly wonderful before we even got to observe and photograph the beautiful snow leopard in the wild.
Get this on your bucket list! It was the experience of a lifetime for us!!!