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LE's Snow Leopard Expedition

India

Join our travel editor on this once-in-a-lifetime trip in April 2019

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LE's Snow Leopard Expedition
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LE's Snow Leopard Expedition

Location

The Ulley Valley, near Leh, in the Ladakh region of the Indian Himalayas

Travel Information

Our expedition meets in New Delhi on April 5th 2019 before flying to Leh and then onwards to the Ulley Valley

Top Tips

A once in a lifetime adventure!

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The Snow Leopard Expedition

Join our travel editor, Sophie Marchant, on an adventure to the land of the elusive Snow Leopard, high in the Indian Himalayas. With only 10 places available for adventurous explorers, let us know as soon as possible if you want to join this exclusive expedition.

The trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh in Northern India is one of the last frontiers for wildlife tourism and April in the high valleys is an excellent time to observe the most elusive of the great cats - the Snow Leopard. The very name evokes all that is most wild, mysterious and elusive in nature, for this is an animal cloaked in the subtle beauty of its own coat, but also in all the high drama of its remote and magnificent environment. 

Ladakh, also known as 'Little Tibet', is a land of fascinating contrasts, evident in the hard life of the local mountain people who, nonetheless, practice a very gentle and compassionate form of Buddhism.

Please read our downloadable Snow Leopard Expedition brochure, which provides a detailed itinerary, including rates, visa requirements and terms and conditions. 

Itinerary highlights

Date of expedition

5th - 17th April 2019, excluding travel to and from New Delhi

Duration

12 nights  / 13 days

Highest pass

No passes involved except while tracking, you may have
to climb uphill, depending on wildlife movement

Grade

Moderate to strenuous (may have to climb a ridge or two)

Full Itinerary

Here is a day-by-day summary of our planned trip, which is subject to change due to weather conditions, or if our guide thinks there is a better opportunity of sighting the elusive Snow Leopard.

Day 1 Arrive Delhi - April 5th

Upon arrival in New Delhi, you will be warmly welcomed by a Luxury Explorer representative from &Beyond, who will assist you through the customs / immigration and the baggage collection process. Afterwards, you will be chauffeured to your hotel. We recommend the Trident in Gurgaon due to its proximity to the international airport, where you will stay on a bed & breakfast basis, although we can arrange for you to stay at the Taj Mahal, Oberoi or the Lodhi at extra cost, as long as you don’t mind the additional transfer time. 
 

Day 2 Delhi / Leh - April 6th

After breakfast our party will be taking to Delhi Airport for the flight to Leh. Upon arrival at Leh Airport we will be welcomed and transferred to our hotel, which is located in the heart of the ancient city of Leh.

The Grand Dragon Ladakh is family-owned and one of the first luxury hotels in Ladakh. The hotel is decorated magnificently with handmade paintings by Gulam Mustafa (Ladakh’s first contemporary artist) with furnished in regal style. Here we will be at leisure for the rest of the day to acclimatise to the high altitude. Leh lies at 11,400 feet and after the flight up from the plains you will need to acclimatize gently.

We have scheduled two full days here, which is the minimum required before driving to a higher altitude, where you will be walking in the mountains.

We will spend three nights at the Grand Dragon in a Deluxe Room with ensuite facilities. Your stay will include all meals. 
 

Day 3 Leh Introductory Tour - April 7th

Leh is a fascinating labyrinth of winding streets and quaint bazaars retaining much of the atmosphere of a Central Asian trading town. The main street is open and airy, with rows of shops on either side. Leh feels almost Tibetan; the national dress, ‘stove-pipe’ hats and felt boots with turned-up toes are much in evidence. The Royal Palace, which dominates the town, is reminiscent of the Potala in Lhasa and Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, large chortens, prayer flags and mud brick houses with flat roofs are a change from the hot, frenetic rush of New Delhi. During the morning you will visit the Snow Leopard Conservancy. Here we will see how, with the help of the local community, they help to conserve the endangered Snow Leopard.

In the afternoon, we will visit the Thiksey monastery. Thiksey Gompa is the most picturesquely situated monastery in Ladakh, perched high on a hill above the Indus. Its buildings are arranged at various levels, leading up to the private apartments of the incarnate lamas on the summit. From here one commands a magnificent view of the valley. 
 

Day 4 Leh - April 8th

On Day 4 we will set out for an extraordinary drive east, heading towards Taglang La and the villages of Gya, Lhato and Meru. This is a stunning drive away from the valley of the Indus, up through a smaller valley to an extraordinary area - even by Ladakhi standards - that marks where the Indian mainland collided with, and was forced under, the Asian land mass to create the Himalayas. The scenery here is dramatic, with a good chance of sighting blue sheep, golden eagles and bearded vultures. Rafts of red-billed choughs perform synchronized aerobatics and in the fallow fields you have the chance of seeing the very beautiful Tibetan partridge and the more common Chukor partridge.

We will then stay a third night in Leh before departing to Ulley.

 

Day 5-11 Drive to Ulley / Ulley - April 9th - 15th 

In the morning of Day 5, we will drive west towards Kargil and Srinagar, following the Indus River, passing through the small town of Nimmu – one of the most important in Ladakh, where the Zanskar river meets the Indus. A little over an hour later we will head north, on a road marked to Likir – one of Ladakh’s famous Buddhist monasteries.

This is now Snow Leopard country. The stunning landscape, here, is even more expansive. Smaller valleys intersect the main valley and our guides will be scanning the hillsides and the skyline for any animal silhouette. This is also excellent Ibex country and there are few more evocative sights than a magnificently horned male standing in vigil on some impossibly narrow outcrop of rocks, a few thousand feet over a plunging cliff.

Ulley village, west of Leh, is an area that is only recently being developed for Snow Leopard watching.

Here we will stay 7 nights in the Snow Leopard Lodge. Of course, this is not a 5-star luxury hotel, but a comfortable homestead consisting of 6 bedrooms, built separately from the main house. We will experience living with a Ladakhi family, often sharing the large and warm kitchens that are at the heart of a Ladkahi home, resplendent with brass, copper and silver ornaments.

We will settle-in on arrival and acclimatise ourselves to the higher altitude of Ulley. From here we will explore 3 valleys, which, apart from Snow Leopards, are great for finding Urial, Ibex, Wolf and Himalayan Fox.

Over the next few days we will explore the area on foot and in SUVs with an expert guide. You will be amazed at the sheer dedication and commitment our guide brings to his trade and the effort he makes to ensure that his guests are happy. Our guide knows the local people and uses his network of local intelligence to narrow down the likely sites for sighting the elusive Snow Leopard each day. In the process there will also be plenty of opportunity to gain insights into local folklore, as well as learn about local customs and traditions. 
 

Day 12 Ulley – Leh - April 16th

After breakfast, we will say our goodbyes to our host and drive back to Leh town. En-route we visit the Alchi monastery. Alchi Gompa is located near the small village of Saspol, which is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was built before the invading wars began in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands, rather than on a hilltop, as later monasteries were, in order to protect them from marauding armies.

After the visit, we will carry on the journey back to Leh.

We will spend one more night at the Grand Dragon, in the same accommodation as at the start of our trip. 
 

Day 13 Depart Leh / Delhi - April 17th

We will leave Leh on the morning of April 17th to catch our morning flight to Delhi. Upon arrival, we will be driven to the Trident Gurgaon Hotel (close to the airport), where we will freshen up before our homeward flights later that evening. 
 

​Rates 

Rates per person in US$, based on 2 guests sharing a twin room, including all accommodation, internal flights and transfers, but excluding international flights into and out of New Delhi. Please see our downloadable brochure for full details. Terms and conditions apply.

2 guests sharing a twin room - US$7,950 per person
Single room supplement - US$4,950

 

DOWNLOAD OUR FULL SNOW LEOPARD EXPEDITION ITINERARY

 

I look forward to you joining us on this exciting adventure next April!

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


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