Snow Leopard - Ghost of the Himalayas



Snow Leopard

The Snow Leopard, locally known as Shan, is one of the rarest large cat species found anywhere in the world. It is so difficult to see largely because of the tough and rugged terrain it is found in. It is a large cat species primarily found in the high mountain ranges of Central and South Asia and it is an endangered species as listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The Hemis National Park and Ule region in Ladakh are 2 of the finest places to see this elusive animal.

Jehan Numa Expeditions

The timing of this trip is crucial because in the bitter cold months of January, February and March Blue Sheep, the primary prey of Snow Leopard, descend down to the lower valleys and the Snow Leopard too follows its prey down. The lower valleys have human inhabitants as well and livestock is also easy prey for Snow Leopard at this time. Apart from this rare animal, Ladakh is also home to other lesser-known species like the Red Fox, Tibetan Wolf, Eurasian Lynx, Argali (Great Tibetan Sheep), Bharal (Blue Sheep), Shapu (Ladakhi Urial), the Ibex and several others that with a bit of luck could be seen on this trip.


Snow Leopard Expedition 2022


Day 1 - Arrive Leh


Take the early morning flight to Leh from New Delhi. Upon arrival, transfer to the Grand Dragon Ladakh located near Leh market. Complete rest of the day is highly recommended as it eases the process of acclimatization. Also sipping hot tea while stretching your legs in the lap of the Himalayas is definitely not a bad way to start your trip. Alternatively, you can also choose to visit the local market in the evening for a bit of last moment shopping required for the expedition. Dinner and overnight stay in Leh.


Day 2 - Local Wildlife Viewing


Post breakfast departure for a full day drive to Gya and Lato area close to the town of Leh for some viewing of Blue Sheep and trans-Himalayan birds like Bearded Vulture, Golden Eagles, Chukar Partridge, Tibetan Partridge, Great Rosefinch and others. These areas lie in the same valley as Leh and in similar altitudes giving guests a good chance of acclimatizing and seeing wildlife at the same time. We will stop and have a picnic lunch at a scenic spot in the valley. Post lunch we will make our way towards the Indus River and a walk around the river bank for some Himalayan birds like the rare Ibisbill and Solitary Snipe. In the evening guests will be taken back to the hotel for dinner, overnight in Leh


Day 3 - Drive to Uley- Route Experience Frozen walk


Early morning after breakfast we depart for Uley and reach by post lunchtime. On route, we will halt at Indus - Zanskar confluence & do a short 30-minute walk on frozen river Zanskar which is a 2 hours drive from Leh. After lunch and some rest, we will depart for Uley which is one of the best places in the world to see a snow leopard. On route to Uley keep a lookout for Urial, Agrali, Tibetan Antelope and Wolf. Upon arrival in Uley, we will reach into a quaint homestay. Dinner and overnight stay in Uley.


Day 4 - Explore ULEY

After breakfast we shall explore more of Uley by walking and scanning the ridges for the Snow Leopard and Himalayan Ibes. Hot lunch will arrive depending on where we are. Late evening we will make our way back to the home stay, Dinner & overnight stay in Uley.

Day 5 - Explore ULEY & Overnight at Leh

After breakfast we will explore Uley a little more, this will help us increase our chances of seeing the snow leopard and some other wild life in and around the area. We will make our way back to the home stay for lunch and post lunch depart to Leh. This drive will take us approximately 5 hours possibilities of seeing some wildlife on the way Overnight in Leh.


Day 6 - Leh to Zenchen to Rumbak


This is the part that we have been building up to. Post breakfast we make our way to the Hemis National Park. From Phey, bridge onward we start along-side Indus towards the Zingche Gorge. We continue up the Gorge and soon enough lay our eyes on the high altitude Hemis National Park the home of Snow Leopard. Keep your senses sharp and look out amidst the cliffs and at the base of rocks where they mark their turf. We spend our night in the Rumbak homestay and it is our 1st night in the stunning Hemis wilderness. Overnight at Rumbak.

Day 7-9 - Explore Rumbak


Over the next 4 days, we trek around Hemis National Park tracking the snow leopard and its wildlife prey. Hemis National Park is home to blue sheep, Argali (a large horned sheep). Numerous mountain and migratory birds, as well as the occasional Tibetan Wolf, one of the most prolific hunters of the region. You are likely to see sights of Snow Leopard, as winters are the time that they descend to lower elevations. If lucky you see one perched high in the rocks or balanced on a vertical ridge. Usually, we will have breakfast at the homestay and set out for the day in search of high altitude wildlife. Hot lunch will be served at the location where we are searching. After the day’s wildlife viewing we will return to our homestay and have dinner. Overnight at Rumbak

Snow leopards naturally predate on Wild Bharal (blue sheep) or Himalayan Ibex (mountain goats) but they are also known to kill domestic animals like Yak and Zho, this is the reason both Uley and Rumbak, although village areas are one of the best places in the world to see the otherwise extremely elusive Snow Leopard.

Day 10 - Explore Rumbak


Today we will explore Urutse (13500ft) and Gandala pass base which is known for its Ibex, Eurasian Lynx, and Tibetan Wolf. We will trek up-valley scanning the mountains for snow leopards with packed lunch. Expect to reach Urutse at lunchtime. Post our arrival in Urutse we rest for a while, have lunch, scan for some wildlife on the high passes, and then start making our way back to Rumbak. Overnight at Rumbak.

Day 11 - Urutse to Zenche (Back to Leh)


After an early breakfast, we walk down the valley past familiar towards Zingchen, which is the entry point of Hemis National Park. This walk is mostly down-hill and we will take it slow and keep on our search for Snow Leopard and other Himalayan wildlife. As we arrive at Zinchen we will have hot lunch at the entry point and move towards Leh. After a much needed and deserved showers it is time to relax, grab a drink and enjoy the last of the gorgeous and peaceful Himalayan scenery. Farewell dinner and overnight in Leh.

Day 12 - Leh - Delhi


After breakfast transfer to Leh airport for flight to Delhi.

The Cost Includes:
  • 4 Nights accommodation in Grand Dragon Ladakh, leh on twin / double sharing basis
  • 5 Night stay in home stay in Rumbak on twin / double sharing basis
  • 2 Night stay in home stay in Uley on twin / double sharing basis
  • Meals as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Service of an expert naturalist (1) and spotter for the group (1) Reni Pani expert naturalist (1) Surface transfer as per plan
  • Inner liner permits(if required), monastery fees and wildlife permits for entire trip
  • 1 still camera fee per person for entire trip.

    Cost does not include:
    • Gratuity
    • Airfare
    • Insurance fee
    • Any meal other than what is specified above or anything not mentioned in inclusions above.
    • Any expenditure of personal nature like bottled water, laundry, telephone calls, extra beverages. Any sudden increase in price due to steep hike in park Entry Fee, steep hike in fuel cost or due to any unforeseen circumstance like extreme climate conditions, natural calamities, riots etc.

    • Guests must be aware that due to the climatic and altitudinal conditions in Ladakh, the schedule and itinerary may change at short notice.
    • Based on the sightings we may also make the schedule flexible so as to maximize chance of seeing the Snow Leopard or other wildlife that participants are expecting to see
    • Due to the elusive nature of almost every animal in Ladakh guests must know that we do not give any guarantee of viewing and you will need a good deal of luck to see the snow leopard apart from the obvious skills of the tracking team
    • Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS) is a common occurrence in Ladakh and we recommend to all guests to visit their general physician before signing up for this program. Medicines like Diamox can be taken for pre-relief from this condition but only after consultation with your physician. Out team will not recommend any medication or line of treatment in situations where guests are suffering from AMS. However, we will do our best in quick relief management and Ensuring that guests can reach the closest professional medical
    • Temperatures can plummet to -25 C and it is recommended that guests carry suitable equipment including sleeping bags suited for sub-zero temperatures.
    • Guests are required to obtain a valid travel insurance which also covers adventure travel. This will be mandatory before signing up for the program.

    Expedition leaders:
    Aly Rashid – 1 February to 12 February 2022

    Wildlife and the wilderness has been a passion for Aly ever since childhood. This passion for wildlife inspired him to work with his family to set up and run Reni Pani Jungle Lodge, one of the finest wilderness camps in India. At Reni Pani Aly has been heading the naturalist team for over 7 years and in this time his passion for wildlife has been instilled in the ethos of the lodge atmosphere. A trained naturalist and ornithologist, he has travelled across the country and has been involved with wildlife in various localities. His deep involvement with Satpura since his childhood has been a motivation to protect and conserve wildlife in this landscape. Aly inspired Reni Pani’s camera trap studies in the reserve forest area outside the park that revealed a breeding population of several large carnivores like leopards, wild dogs and sloth bears and also the presence of a young male tiger. His passion for research and conservation has also taken him to Panna National Park where he worked with renowned small cat expert and scientist Shekhar Kolipaka for the Caracal Research and Conservation Project in 2014. Aly is also involved in leading wildlife expeditions both within India and abroad.


    1st to 12th Feb 2022 | Snow Leopard Expedition

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