Snow Leopard Expedition 2020


Land Of The Snow Leopard -Tracking A Himalayan Legend

Duration : 15 nights/16 Days -Dates - 15th February 2020- 2nd March 2020

This amazing adventure will provide you with the unique & rare experience of finding the elusive and endangered Snow Leopard. I have managed to secure an amazing team of the best Snow Leopard naturalist in the area that will take us into one of the best Snow Leopard habitats in the Hemis high altitude National Park. The snow leopard is the most elusive of all the big cats, but February is a great time to see them as they come down to find a partner and breed.

Trekking in the mountains of Ladakh the Snow Leopard capital of the world. Guided by experienced naturalists and Snow Leopard experts, this will be the best opportunity to see and photography these amazing big cats that I can promise you. Also you will get a great feel for the local lifestyle of Ladakh. Class accommodation in Leh and comfortable tents while on the trek. Insight into local Snow Leopard conservation and village home stay initiatives

This trip will be a once in a lifetime one and I will be on hand throughout this amazing trip to make everything for the photography to mastering the high altitude go smoothly. I will show you everything from landscapes, time lapses and how to get the best out of your own wildlife photography. Whether you a beginner or an experienced pro this trip is open to everyone and also non-photographers.

Some of the birds that you may come across while on the trek are Golden Eagle, Lammergeyer, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Himalayan Griffon and Himalayan Snow cock, Tibetan Partridge, Chukar Partridge, White Winged Redstart, Robin Accentor, White Breasted Dipper, Brown Dipper.

While on the trek you will also have the opportunity to stay in Home Stays and in tents in the prime habitat. Other wildlife that you will see is the Blue Sheep, Ladakh Urial and the Tibetan Argali.

Too read about my 2017 trip there and the amazing luck we had then please click here too see the blog post I wrote.

Tour Outline: DAY 01 - 15thFeb 2020: ARRIVAL DELHI

Meeting assistance on arrival and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel

DAY 02 - 16th Feb 2020 : DELHI TO LEH (FLIGHT)

Morning departure transfer to airport to board the flight for Leh. Assistance on arrival at Leh and transfer to hotel

Leh is situated at an altitude of 3500 mts and is the capital of the once ancient Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. Upon arrival at the hotel – a warm cup of tea will be served and you will be briefed about the trek. Spend the day acclimatizing in the Hotel as your body needs to adjust to the low oxygen levels.

Meal Plan – Breakfast, Lunch, Diner

DAY 03 - 17th Feb 2020: AROUND LEH

After breakfast, guided tour to Thiksey monasteries to give you an experience of Tibetan Buddhism which has been prevalent since centuries. Post the monastery visit – drive along the indus river to look for the Ibisbill or the Solitary Snipe. You may find a Harrier and also a few species of ducks.

Meal Plan – Breakfast, Lunch, Diner

DAY 04 - 18th Feb 2020 - LEH / JINCHEN (DRIVE – 02 HOURS) – RUMBAK (TREK – 04 HOURS)

Drive one hour into the Hemis High National Park. On reaching Zinchen village we commence trek further into the gorge towards the Rumbak Village. This will take about 04 – 05 Hours. Overnight at Tented Camp

Meal Plan – Breakfast, Lunch, Diner

DAY 05 RUMBAK - 19th Feb 2020

(From this day onwards the itinerary depends on the movement of the Snow Leopard and thus the itinerary has to be very flexible as we trek and camp depending on the movement of the cat)

Early morning scouting for snow leopard signs and possible sightings at the junction of Husing Nala and Tarbung nala including the high ridge lines. After breakfast hike up the main Lato Nala till the vantage point at Rumbak Sumdo. Spend the day scanning the Kharlung and adjoining areas. Overnight in camps.

Meal Plan – Breakfast, Lunch, Diner

DAY 06: RUMBAK - 20th Feb 2020

(The Mountains around Rumbak provide a unique bio diversity as you find four different species of wild sheep and goats namely – Ibex, Blue Sheep, Ladakh Urial and the Tibetan Argali. However it is predominantly the Blue sheep that accounts for the major prey base for the Snow Leopard population in the area.)

After breakfast, hike 2 to 3 hours to Rumbak village (known as the Snow Leopard capital of the world) Rumbak lies at 4050 mts and we have the choice of staying at homestays for the night. Spend the day exploring the Rumbak Mountains for Snow Leopards and other wild life. During the scouting trips we will be climbing up to 4600mts and we will also a trek up towards Yurutse pasture looking for the Tibetan Argali (Great Tibetan Sheep). Overnight in camps.

Meal Plan – Breakfast, Lunch, Diner

DAY 07: RUMBAK - 21st Feb 2020

After breakfast hike up to Husing pass (4450mts) and spend the day at the vantage point on the pass scanning surrounding area for wildlife like theTibetan Argali, the Eurasian Lynx and theTibetan Wolf

Overnight in camps

Meal Plan – Breakfast, Lunch, Diner

DAY 08-13: RUMBAK - 22nd- 27th Feb 2020

The pattern of events for the following days are very much the same as we search for the Snow Leopard and where our guide and trackers come into their own.

Meal PlanEach day – Breakfast, Lunch, Diner

DAY 14: RUMBAK – ZINCHEN - LEH 28th Feb 2020

After breakfast trek down to Zinchen. On arrival drive to Leh. Overnight in hotel

Meal Plan – Breakfast, Lunch, Diner

Day 15: 1st March 2020 - LEH TO DELHI

Early morning transfer to airport for your flight to Delhi. On arrival Delhi transfer to hotel for day use purpose.

Meal Plan – Breakfast

Day 16: 2nd March 2020-DELHI DEPART

In time departure transfer to airport to board the flight for onward journey

Hotels used for this tour City

Hotel

No of Nights

Delhi

Pride Plaza Aerocity - 1 Night

Leh

Hotel Lotus

02 Nights

Rumbak

Tent / Home Stay

10 Nights

Leh

Hotel Lotus

01 Night

Delhi

Pride Plaza Aerocity 

01 Night

Tented camps in Ladakh consist of a row of “two persons” crawl - in - tents with comfortable mattresses and hot water bottles. The camp has a basic toilet tent as well as a dining tent (with table and chairs). All meals are cooked fresh in the kitchen tent and cuisine varies from basic Chinese, Ladakhi and Continental. The camp is manned by an experienced cook and support staff

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES

Delhi room on a sharing basis with breakfast basis. Total 3 Nights Hotel in Leh on full board and twin sharing basis. Home stays at Rumbak on full board on twin sharing basis. Transportation as per the itinerary for sightseeing, drop at & pickup from trek point by non Non AC Innova vehicles whereas in Delhi – AC Transport will be provided

Two English speaking accompanying guide throughout the trek. Trek on full board with all arrangements like a guide, a cook, helpers/ scouts. Sleeping tents with mattresses, kitchen tent, folding chairs, ponies with a pony man etc. Heating system for evening in Mess tent

Wildlife entry fee in Hemis National Park. 01 Spotting Scope. Monastery entrance fee. Airport transfers with assistance. All applicable taxes

TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

International airfares to and from Leh which will be around USD 260. Visa Fees, Airport Tax or travel insurance. Flights to and from Delhi. Sleeping bags.

Any type of personal expenses like personal medicines, tips and portage at airports, restaurants, hotels, drivers, guides, naturalists, escort etc. Any other meals than those mentioned in the itinerary. Any type of drinks like mineral water alcoholic beverages & cold drinks during sightseeing or during trekking.

Additional cost resulting from delays due to landslides, sickness, flight cancellation etc. Cost of evacuation by any means. Additional hotel costs if clients wish to come back to hotel early from the camp. Extra Taxi costs if Clients wish to take alternate additional trips from the group program

TRAVEL NOTES

WEATHER: Usually sunny days but with dry chilly winds, the temperature can drop to minus

Centigrade at nights but will warm up as the sun comes out during the day. December maximum temperature averages 7°C which can fall to -15°C. and Feb – March goes to 5°C and fall to -20°C

EQUIPMENT (to be brought by the individual): High quality trekking gear is difficult, if not impossible; to buy in India, so check the equipment list before leaving home. Please sort out and divide your trekking equipment into three categories:

1. To wear on the trail 2. To carry in the day pack 3. To pack in the duffel bag

You will not have access to your duffel bag once you leave camp in the morning, as it will be carried by pack ponies or porters. Therefore, you must anticipate all your daytime needs and carry these items in your day pack. Your day pack should be large enough to accommodate your water bottle. Personal first aid kit, sun cream, sweater or down jacket and lunch box

Clothing and equipment: A list of suggested clothing and equipment for the snow leopard trek has been mentioned below. This is a comprehensive list and experienced trekkers will often take only a selection of these items based on what has worked in the past- it is worth pointing out that you will need a 4 season sleeping bag for this trip. Trekkers should bring all their gear in one large duffel bag and a small backpack (30 to 50 litres). Each day you will carry the small pack containing items that you might need while trekking such as warm clothes, jacket, camera, water bottle and some snacks. The rest of your personal equipment, contained in your duffel bag, will be carried by ponies.

Footwear

Warm boots with preferably Vibram soles for that extra grip

Running shoes or sandals. To be used in camp in the evenings or for lighter walking days

Gaiters. A pair used to keep boots dry if walking through deep snow or on wet ground

Heavyweight wool socks.

Clothing

Goretex shell pants and jacket with hood. Heavy weight down jacket with hood. Light trekking trousers for warmer days. Mid to heavyweight fleece jacket. Light to mid weight fleece pants. Fleece gloves. Warm wool or fleecy hat. Sun hat. Light weight climbers’ headlamp for use at night around the camp. Bring extra batteries. High quality sunglasses with 100% UV protection. High quality Binoculars / Telescope. However we will provide 01 spotting telescope for the trip

Personal Equipment

A 4 season sleeping bag with hood to withstand Negative 30 Degrees. 30 to 50 litre backpack large enough to carry water bottles, camera, lunch and extra clothing. 1 litre water bottles with a wide mouth. Sunscreen and lipsalve with an SPF 30 or better. Pocket knife swiss army style (optional)

Travelling

1 large duffle bag for transporting your personal gear on the trek and during flights. Bring small combination padlocks. large plastic bin bags/drybags for keeping gear dry in the duffel and backpack.

Travel clothes. You will need street/casual clothing for air travel days and time spent in Delhi and Leh.

Personal First Aid Kits- Any personal medications. Antibiotics for gastrointestinal problems- eg. CiproflaxinBlister treatment

Notes: In case of medical emergencies or high altitude sickness both Zinchen and Saspoche are within a day’s reach to the government hospitals. Zinchen to Leh is 1hrs drive. First 2 days is recommended for complete rest and acclimatization to ensure rest of the trip carries off smoothly. The homestays are basic & simple rooms with dry compost toilets and do not have shower

Facilities- Hot water will be provided in buckets if needed. Medical/ safety Information: We carry and provide a small Medical Box with basic first aid

Camp Type / Movement:

We will provide 02 men DOM or Alpine tents during the trek, Daily we trek about minimum 2-3hrs and on an average 4-5hrs.

Typical Day:

Scan the ridge lines from Camp till about 7.30 am- Breakfast around 7.30 am- Around 8 am- Head out into either Tarbung, Husing Nala, or Rumbak Doh depending upon the movement of the cat and scouting information.

Around 12.30 pm – Packed lunch will be bought to wherever we are scanning with Hot Soup, Lunch & Black Tea with Dessert. Post lunch we still carry on scanning and scoping with little movement depending on the cats information. Around 5pm – we start to head back to camp and have a hot cup of tea/coffee. Continue Scanning till it gets dark as there is a good chance the cat may finally move from a day’s rest on some vantage point on the ridge line. Around 6.30 pm – Soup will be served followed by dinner and desserts.

At Dinner time I will go through the days events, photography and anything else with the group and discuss the next day’s plan of action along with clarifying any doubts or problems from clients. It will be an amazing trip and one you will never forget.

Recommended Photography Equipment

You will need to provide your own photographic equipment; lenses ranging from a wide-angle right up to a 500mm will be perfect, ideally with two camera bodies, however, this is not essential. The landscapes here will be truly amazing so please bring a wide angle lens to capture its beauty. A tripod/Monopod and a beanbag are a must. Also protection for your camera equipment from the weather is very important.

Cost

The cost of your incredible 15 night/16 day adventure is-

Per Person on a shared basis/Twin Bed/Tent:£3200.00

Single Supplement is available at a cost of £300 PP room/tent

The tour price is always fixed in the currency quoted and can go up and down depending on exchange rates. The actual costs in the other currencies will be adjusted according to prevailing exchange rates at the time of final invoicing. We use the exchange rate of the day.

2020 Tour Dates: 15 nights/16 Days - Dates - 15th February 2020- 2nd March 2020

PAYMENT & DEPOSIT POLICY -

All trip costs are subject to change without prior notice until your reservation is confirmed. A deposit of £1000 PP of the is required to secure space on the trip. Full payment is due no later than 90 days before departure. We reserve the right to sell any space that is not paid in full by 60 days before departure.

Rates quoted are subject to change if there are any increases in park fees, fuel, sales tax or VAT, third-party services, currency fluctuations or any other circumstances beyond our control. Prices are subject to unforeseen increases in tour related costs. Should an amendment in a routing or itinerary be necessary, we will re-quote accordingly. If the number of nights or dates of travel or number of participants should change, this may have an effect on the cost.

Please be sure to carefully check your visa requirements before your intended date of travel, as Craig Jones Wildlife Photography cannot be held responsible should the necessary visa requirements not be fulfilled. Please remember that in some cases you may need to apply for a multiple entry visa. Please be sure to carefully check your passport requirements before your intended date of travel.

Please consult your physician before you travel for advice on vaccinations and prophylaxis. We strongly advises that you take out comprehensive travel insurance covering yourself for personal effects, cancellation and curtailment. Personal accident, medical and emergency travel expense insurance is mandatory on any of our tours.

Cancellation Policy- Must be made in writing. More than 90 days before trip: Deposit will be refunded in full. 90 days or less before trip: Deposit will be refunded if space is sold, less unrecoverable costs of sales, and administration costs. No refund is made for unused part of the itinerary.

The following are subject to change: Cost of services which are not included in the expedition price. Flight time and schedule. Weather, water temperature, and animal behaviour

Additional notes:

While the terrain and distances covered on each day’s walk will vary, it’s always challenging due to the low oxygen content in the high altitude air. Scree slopes, rock slides and rocky embankments are constant, and walking can be arduous and difficult. Please ensure that you have the correct gear for such hikes and that you are fully aware of the often strenuous nature of this tour. For those who wish to stay in camp, or to return early from walks, there will always be someone at hand to accompany you. If you feel the need to rest and remain in camp, please bear in mind that you are still in fantastic scenery and that you hold an almost equal chance of spotting the elusive “Ghost of the Mountain” from the camp itself! As mentioned above, hiking in all areas visited during the tour will be challenging due to the terrain and high altitude. Participants should therefore be in good health and reasonably fit at the very least. An exercise regime prior to the tour is recommended.

Temperatures throughout the tour, but particularly in Hemis National Park, will be well below zero. While heating will be provided in the dining tent, we refrain from providing gas heaters in sleeping tents as this lowers the available oxygen content. We recommend that you travel with sleeping bags and bedding designed to keep you warm in such extreme environments (we can organize these for you on request), but we will provide hot water bottles. Please ensure that your hiking gear includes a good-sized bottle to carry your drinking water on your hikes. Warm water is often preferred, so please insure that your water bottle is suitably insulated.

While we make every reasonable effort to provide comfort while camping in Hemis National Park, please be aware that squatting is required when using the toilet tent in camp, and no toilet facilities are available on hikes. Also, due to the low temperatures, showering may be infrequent.

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