My wife and I had a dream trip up to Leh/Hemis National Park with Voygr Expeditions and Behzad and were lucky enough to see several snow leopards! We even saw a mum and 2 cubs playing around in snow from a few hundred meters!
Behzad and his team are renowned for being the world’s best snow leopard trackers. When you combine this with the best spotting scopes in the industry (Swarovski BTX scopes with 50x magnification and 1.7x extender to 85x), you get (basically) guaranteed snow leopard sightings!
The camp provides by far the best accommodation possible for snow leopard tracking anywhere on earth. My wife and I stayed in the Shan suite. It was beautifully appointed with wooden floorboards, stone bathroom and a high pressure hot shower! The bed was huge and very comfortable. The rooms were very well heated – my wife and I live on a tropical island hate the cold yet were happy walking around the room in underwear.
We extended our snow leopard trip with side trips to Ranthambore (tigers), Jawai (leopards) and Rajasthan. Voygr and Behzad were amazing and put together a perfect trip! The drivers and guides Behzad chose were fantastic as were the hotel recommendations!
All in all there is a reason Voygr has a perfect 5* rating on TripAdvisor… We certainly plan to book all future remote holidays with Behzad!
Incredible visit to Ladakh to see the snow leopards with Behzad and his team who provided an unparalleled experience. Employing the best trackers in the field, alongside incredible Ladakhi hospitality, each days trekking for the Snow Leopard was an absolute thrill. Accommodations are without a doubt the best in the area for an expedition such as this – no comparison. Tents were incredibly warm and cozy, hot water for showers and food was delicious. Somehow in an extreme weather environment, Behzad has created an oasis of comfort. Staff is beyond helpful and everyone is completely dedicated to the experience of glimpsing the Snow Leopard. In the end, Voygr has the best spotters so they are best chance you have at spotting the Snow Leopard. Highly recommended!
We spent 10 days in Voygr’s camp in a totally immersive Snow Leopard experience.
From the day we arrived in Leh, Behzad and Sonam made us feel so cared for as we acclimatized to the altitude in Ladakh. After 3 days we arrived at the “camp” (if you can call it that – more like a 5-star property in the middle of the mountains). There are two phenomal suite-style “tents” (again, a loose definition) that we stayed in that each have their own bathrooms inside; this was so nice given the temperatures outside.
From morning to evening, Rigzin (camp manager), and crew were SO attentive to all of our requests. We had 4 different types of egg orders each morning, 6 different tea and coffee orders, and each ask was met with so much kindness and care. We felt at home on this trip, which made leaving even more difficult.
As far as Snow Leopards, we had 8 sightings. The first was a mating pair and for days afterwards we saw a single leopard in the mountains. As we sat out for days, Behzad’s team brought us hot chai, biscuits, breakfast, lunch, and so much more to make us feel so comfortable. We even had beds to sleep on!
Needless to say we cannot wait for our next trip with Voygr!
We started out on this journey a little apprehensive, as the optimal time to see the snow leopard is the COLD winter. The type of COLD experienced in that part of the world is something that we had never sensed living in a tent. But we were eager to get a glimpse of the illusive snow leopard in its habitat.
We spent a total of 13 days in Leh and Hemis. The first two days were spent acclimatizing to the altitude after which we were transported to our “luxury tents” in the middle of the most beautiful setting amongst the mountains. The outside temperature was as cold as expected. But inside the tent it was warm and cozy. The hot water showers, the beautiful carpets and the comfortable beds was something that we had not expected in a tented facility. The food was another surprise, as they catered to all our dietary needs and more. The food was plentiful, delicious and prepared with a lot of care. We had three course meals even when we were away from camp waiting to spot a snow leopard. They sent out beds for us to sit on or lie down on while we waited.
We were successful in sighting the snow leopard 6 times. Our first sighting was a mating. It was an absolute thrill and one that we will never forget. The second was a kill. We did not witness the kill but saw the leopard by the kill. The next few were of the snow leopard stalking blue sheep.
The team that Behzad has put together is world class. We went to see the snow leopard apprehensive of the COLD. We returned, WARM from the experience not only because we saw the snow leopard but because of the kindest, friendliest and whole-hearted hospitality that we have ever experienced in all our travels. It was better than a 5 star experience and one that we would like to experience again !!!.
Behzad and his team planned everything to perfection, worked tirelessly, and offered comfort that one can only dream of. The team of spotters would leave at the crack of dawn to begin the work of spotting leopards. Sonam always had plan B if leopards decided to take a day off and did not want to be seen. Rashid worked behind the scenes to took care of every detail. I will plan future trips without hesitation.
We visited Ladakh to see snow leopards with Voygr expeditions in March 2022. We saw 7 snow leopards, including a mating pair that we were able to observe for several hours. Behzad and his entire team are very passionate about their work. From exceptional (and warm) accommodations in below freezing temperatures to a wide variety of delicious food, we were very well taken care of. When we were watching snow leopards in the wild, meals would be brought to us, so that we would not lose any opportunity to see these magnificent animals. Behzad is also dedicated to conservation of rare wildlife. I hope there are more people like him, it would increase the chances that our children and grandchildren will get to experience the same magic that we did.
What an exciting trip it was to go see the Snow Leopards in Leh. I was not sure what to expect but what I experienced far exceeded it. We were able to see 7 snow leopard sightings. On top of the beautiful scenery was the wonderful staff of Voygr – they tended to all of our needs. I highly recommend going on a trip with Voygr. Behzad and team understand service.
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 in the valley that day). Voygr uses the best guides (for real, these guys are total pros with decades of experience), and will be happy to take care of any need you may have.
One example stands out to me – after leaving camp, we ask if we can trek further into the valley that day and use a local homestay for lodging that night. Logistics would be uncertain as none of us had left camp thinking we wouldn’t be back that evening. 10 minutes later, we see a guy with a horse heading back toward our camp. Rashid arranges for him to pick up some supplies from our camp and bring them to our destination, as well as sends a message to camp to bring our lunch about 2.5 hour hike away to where we’ll be. I was so impressed with their ability to make adjustments on the fly, take care of their clients, and deliver an exceptional experience.
We also had a great snow leopard spotting one day and decided that we should visit other parts of Ladakh the following day. No problems – Behzad and Rashid made arrangements and took us all over Nubra Valley and all the way to Pangong Lake. These guys are totally dedicated. They have the connections all over Ladakh to make anything happen. I’ll definitely be coming back for another tour!
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!!!
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 well organized. Behzad ensured each of us acclimatized to the high altitude in the first two days. None of us felt altitude sickness. Behzad and the team also kept a close watch on our physical ability and mental awareness throughout the trip. Their attention was key in a very enjoyable experience.
The camp site was perfect. Behzad had pitched the tents well in advance of our arrival, to take the best position. The tents themselves were luxurious, with a bed ensuring we were not sore or cold by sleeping on the ground. The food was delicious, with pizzas, pastas, noodles, dumplings and Indian food for lunch and dinner. Breakfast was elaborate, with porridge, eggs, bread and cereal. Many varieties of tea and coffee were always available through the day.
The sightings were exceptional. Khenrab Phuntsog, the renowned tracker from BBC Planet Earth 2, is not only a great tracker, but also one of the lead conservationists in Hemis National Park. He gave many, many insights into the ecology, animal behaviour, culture and conservation aspects of what we experienced. He delivered in spades each day: we had 7 snow leopard sightings including one from a few hundred feet and two from the camp (a first, I am told), 5 tibetan wolf sightings, including one from the camp (a first again). We also saw a red fox, many blue sheep and birds. The calls on four different mornings of ‘snow leopard’ even before the first cup of tea, and the first time I saw a snow leopard, will always remain with me.
This trip was supposed to see the snow leopard, to take it off it off my bucket list. Instead, it has turned into the first of hopefully many more trips to see the snow leopards again.
One of greatest wildlife trips in my life
I have been focused on wildlife my entire life, and seeing a snow leopard was at the top of my list since I can remember. I have tried several times in other regions of Himalayas and Tibetan plateau with no success, but this time it happened with Voygr! The thrill of seeing a snow leopard in the wild is a wildlife experience in a class by itself.
The scenery in Hemis National Park is as stunning as any I have ever seen. We saw lots of other wildlife including many up close blue sheep, 7 Tibetan wolves, Eurasian lynx, fox, Tibetan Partridge, chukar, griffon, lammergeier, golden eagles, and snowcock.
The system of snow leopard expeditions in Hemis is the best anywhere in terms of being the perfect model of conservation, as the park fees are pooled to fund projects for villagers that help live sustainably in snow leopard habitat. The region is not overgrazed with livestock, as it is outside the park, so there are no conflicts between herders and snow leopards, so leopards do not fear people. There is excellent food resources and habitat for blue sheep which are abundant which sustains high density of snow leopards. The crew for the camps are all locals, so they all have an equal, vested interest in healthy snow leopard populations. When you visit Hemis in the winter for snow leopards, you are directly supporting snow leopard conservation.
We stayed in luxury tents, with cots, heaters, and super warm sleeping bags. The food was amazing, and we had a huge heated tent to hang out and eat in.
We hired the top snow leopard experts from the wildlife department, which guided BBC planet earth 2 team, to find us wildlife ( this is the main reason they have had 100 percent success of snow leopard sightings in the last 4 years! This is the best operation to run snow leopard expeditions, in the best location, which is why I have picked them to run my snow leopard tours that we are organizing for 2020 as I am a career wildlife expedition leader. It is solid, professional team in the best place to see and photograph these amazing big cats. Everyone I spoke to in Ladakh had nothing but top respect for this operation, and they treated all support staff and locals with the same respect, which is my style. Hats off to owners Rashed and Behzad! These guys have set the bar high.
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 people, and the wildlife who live where we travel.
The Snow Leopard tour is a true adventure. You’re a few hours hike in the Himalayas, and you camp surrounded by nothing but ridges and peaks for miles and miles. You have all of the freedom you would want to explore, but they also provide the comforts you would expect from a high end luxury tour. Compared to other companies in the area, we no doubt had the best set up – the best guides, meals, tent (more like giant yurts) set ups (we had in tent heaters turned on at sunrise, and about an hour before we went to bed), and Expert trackers.
Behzad and his team were great with the communications and planning ahead of time, pick up was a breeze, and everything was taken care of from beginning to end. All I had to worry about was being present and enjoying every moment of the trip.
The service was unlike anything I’ve seen. No matter where you were, tea and cookies would find you. Each meal was multi coursed and delicious. It was a great mix of local style food, Indian food, and good old comfort food (pancakes were a treat).
I went into this trip with zero expectations around seeing a snow leopard or any other wildlife. I was excited to just be in the mountains, and meet great people, but I ended up seeing so much more than I could have imagined – tibetan wolves, eurasian lynx, beautiful golden eagles, lammergeiers, and of course the snow leopard. Viewing the snow leopard for hours was truly special, and Behzad’s team and the others on the trip were the perfect people to enjoy it with.
Lastly, the thing I appreciated most about this trip was how much of a positive impact this expedition has on the local community, the national park, and wildlife conservation in general. The entire crew is local, the trackers are local, and so much money is flowing back into the communities and directly towards leopard and wildlife conservation. Behzad and his team care so much about this, and do whatever they can to add value to the communities and lands where they travel.
Thanks Behzad, Rashid, Caitlin and team. See you sometime soon. :)