Small Group Safari

In Search of the Snow Leopard in Ladakh

Journey into the Himalayas and immerse yourself in the mystical region of Ladakh, visiting Buddhist monasteries and spending six days tracking the elusive snow leopard.

Duration 14 days
Price From $6,299
When Apr 2019
Destination India

Safari Overview

Unlike other members of the big cat family, the snow leopard cannot be seen on a traditional safari. Its high-altitude habitat is cold, harsh, mountainous and often inaccessible to all but the most determined traveller. But on this departure you’ll be able to step foot in the land of the leopard, and hopefully become one of the few people on earth to have seen this predator in the wild with your own eyes. Along the way you’ll get to experience seldom-visited Ladakh, a place where tradition runs deep. Regardless of what wildlife you may encounter here, your time spent venturing through Ladakh’s austere landscape and discovering its ancient Buddhist monasteries will leave you with an unforgettable experience.

What makes this trip extraordinary

  • Explore the remote Indian region of Ladakh, some 10,000 ft above sea level.
  • Visit centuries-old Buddhist monasteries among the Himalayan Mountains.
  • Learn about the local culture and traditional ways of life that still persist here.
  • Spend six days tracking snow leopards – the most elusive and mysterious of all the big cats – in the company of an expert local guide.
  • Spot other species like the ibex, bharal, Himalayan wolf, Tibetan sand fox and golden eagle silhouetted against the stark beauty of the Ladakhi landscape.
  • By embarking on this safari, you'll have the chance to make an optional donation to Snow Leopard Conservancy, and contribute to the ongoing research, protection and survival of this big cat in doing so.
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Day by day

Day 1

Arrive Delhi

Upon arriving in Delhi, you’ll be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel in the nearby city of Gurgaon. Upon checking in, you’re free to spend the rest of the day exploring either the financial and industrial hub of Gurgaon or neighbouring Delhi, which contains within it the nation’s capital, New Delhi.

Day 2

Delhi – Leh

Rise early this morning to board your flight to Leh, a town high in the Himalayas that will be your home for the next three nights. At 11,500 ft above sea level, it is important to acclimatise to the altitude here before your safari begins in earnest. Spend the rest of your day at leisure here in the mountains.

Day 3

Leh

Today you’ll visit the traditional markets of Leh, staffed by Tibetan refugees who first fled to the region of Ladakh some 50 years ago. You’ll also be able to meet members of Snow Leopard Conservancy, a foundation supported by Natural World Safaris who work tirelessly to protect the most elusive big cat in the world. Thikse Monastery is also on the agenda today, an impressive building perched atop a hill overlooking the Indus Valley whose architecture evokes that of the Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama’s former residence in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa. A 49 ft-high statue of the Buddha occupies Thikse’s Maitreya Temple here, the largest such statue in all of Ladakh and also one of the region’s most exquisite examples of religious art.

Day 4

Gia, Meru & Latho

The villages of Gia, Meru and Latho are your destinations for the fourth day of your journey, a trio of Himalayan settlements that reveal a different side to Ladakh, miles from the town of Leh with its modern amenities and population of 30,000. Learn about the Himalayan way of life from local villagers and pay a visit to the gompa and stupas – structures used as places of learning and mediation by Buddhist monks - that lie above Gia.

Day 5

Leh – Ulley

There will be time to embark on one more excursion in or around Leh this morning before checking out from your hotel. From there you’ll take a private transfer to the tiny village of Ulley, the starting-off point for your snow leopard tracking trips over the next week. Quiet, cosy and offering wonderful views across the Ulley Chhu Valley, the lodge will serve as a comfortable base to return to after a long day venturing through the mountains in search of the aforementioned big cats. An added bonus is that you’ll staying with a local family and sampling traditional cuisine, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the fascinating culture present here at the roof of the world.

Overnight: Snow Leopard Lodge B, L, D

Days 6-11

Ulley

Your quest for the snow leopard has now begun. The next six days of your safari will be spent accompanying an expert tracker and spotters into the hills around Ladakh. Snow Leopard Lodge, searching for signs of this high-altitude predator. You'll be scouring the terrain for paw prints in the snow, scent marks left on rocks, carcasses abandoned on trails, and, with any luck, a sighting of this magnificent cat with your very own eyes. Even now in the 21st century, footage of the snow leopard is hard to come by, owing to their solitary existence and vast territories high up in the Himalayas. This is not your typical on-wheels safari - sightings cannot be guaranteed out here in the wilderness, but simply being here in the land of the leopard, coming into contact with the remnants of its presence and perhaps hearing their unique calls echoing through the peaks and valleys of Ladakh, is something few will ever have the good fortune to experience. In addition to snow leopards, you may also be to catch a glimpse of the rest of the region’s wildlife, including the sure-footed ibex and bharal – relatives of the goat - as well as Himalayan wolves, Tibetan sand foxes and even golden eagles flying overhead.

Overnight: Snow Leopard Lodge B, L, D

Day 12

Ulley – Leh

Your time in Ulley is now at an end, and today you’ll journey back to Leh, stopping off at Alchi Monastery along the way. This monastic complex on the banks of the Indus River has been here for 1,000 years, and on its walls you’ll find some of the oldest surviving paintings in all of Ladakh. Within are auspicious statues, elaborate wood carvings and artwork composed by monks that reflect the teachings of the Buddha.

Day 13

Leh – Delhi

After checking out of your hotel, you’ll depart from Ladakh and catch a flight to Delhi, ready for your onward flight home tomorrow. You can choose to explore this cultural metropolis or simply sit back and take stock of your experiences up in the Himalayas.

Day 14

Depart Delhi

A fortnight has passed and you must now bid farewell to India, laden hopefully with trinkets, photographs and memories from your time in this magical corner of Asia.

Trip Details

This is a small group safari departing on a set date, with a maximum of 8 guests.

Those travelling alone are required to pay a single supplement of £2,690.

 2019 Departure   Price per person sharing   Price for solo traveller 
 Apr 4-17  £4,895  £7,585
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