This incredible journey takes you along an extraordinary route, full of lore and splendor, punctuated by photographic attractions, and features diversity. Witness for yourself the majestic Himalayan peaks and immerse yourself in the Buddhist culture. But the highlight of the trip will be when you visit Hemis National Park situated in Ladakh region, to track the elusive Snow Leopard.
This exclusive opportunity has two group departure dates : February 25 - March 6, 2020 and March 29 - April 8, 2020 with limited spaces available. Optional extensions are available.
Welcome to India! Upon arrival at Delhi's International Airport, clear Immigration and Customs formalities. A local representative will be waiting to meet you in the arrivals area and assist with your luggage. From the airport, you will be driven directly to your hotel, to enjoy the first night of your adventure amidst India's world of wonders! (This service is on a private basis.)
Everything about Delhi is enticing. Named India’s historical capital, Delhi is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Since ancient times, the city's character and culture has been shaped by waves of various influences. In recent years, New Delhi has expanded to encompass residential and commercial developments to the west and south, including the satellite towns off Noida, Gurgaon and Faridabad. Delhi has also outgrown Mumbai and Kolkata in becoming the most vibrant creative art and culture center in India. Even a simple stroll through the streets offers an epic adventure for the senses.
After breakfast, you will be picked up at your hotel in Delhi and transferred to the airport for your domestic flight to Leh. Upon arrival in Leh, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day will be free to rest, relax, and acclimate to the high altitude (Elevation: 11,483 ft).
A Tibetan-styled palace and fort overlook a quaint, calm Leh. Travel here is simple; there are plenty of shops and restaurants in the bazaar, and a short drive in any direction brings you to long fields of tea and barley. The charm of Leh is undeniable, and a few days may be required here, both to acclimatize to the altitude, and to enjoy a slower lifestyle framed by towering mountains and twisting valleys.
Enjoy the day at your leisure to continue proper acclimatization. It is very important, to move slower, drink lots of water/tea, and not put much stress on the body. Take it easy today so you can be in good shape to explore the Himalayas. However, if you are interested in walking, you can visit places like Sankar Gompa, Shanti Stupa, & Leh Palace.
This evening you will visit Leh Palace right before the sunset, allowing a for a fantastic photo opportunity of the Shanti Stupa.
This morning, start your journey to Ulley by driving 2 - 3 hours west towards Kargil and Srinagar, generally following the Indus River. You will pass through the small town of Nimmu – one of the most important in Ladakh, where the Zanskar River meets the Indus. After a little over an hour, you head north on a road marked to Likir – one of Ladakh’s famous Buddhist monasteries. This is all snow leopard country. The landscape here is even bigger, more expansive and open, until you turn off onto a dirt road, winding up a narrow valley, following a stream called the UlleyChhu. Smaller valleys intersect and your guides will have their heads craned all the time, scanning the hillsides and the skyline for any silhouette. This is excellent Ibex country and there are few more evocative sights than a magnificently horned male Ibex standing vigil on some impossibly narrow outcropping, a few thousand feet over a plunging cliff.
Upon arrival at your lodge in Ulley, settle in and acclimatize to the higher altitude (Elevation: 13,000 ft). From here you are able to explore 3 valleys, which, apart from snow leopards, are great for finding urial, Ibex, wolf and red fox.
You will be staying at Snow Leopard Lodge – which apart from being more comfortable than camping out in sub-zero temperatures – puts money directly into local hands and strengthens the constituency of the snow leopard. This will be your base for your stay searching for snow leopards and other high altitude wildlife.
The lodge is built separately from the main house with a dining room, lounge and kitchen – all in the same low stone built building. For our clients, we bring in our own cook and camp staff with an assortment of important luxuries like extra gas heaters, warm shower and bathroom, comfortable mattresses, linen, an assortment of coffees, teas, snacks etc that go a long way to alleviate the cold and the altitude. Add to this the interest of living with a Ladakhi family in the depths of winter and understanding their life-style and you have a very special experience in store - especially sharing the large and warm kitchens that are the heart of a Ladkahi home in winter and resplendent with brass, copper and silver ornaments.
Your guide Norbu is an exceptional tracker and spotter whose entire being seems to be narrowed down to the field of vision of his binoculars. Over the next few days, you explore the area on foot and vehicle with Norbu tracking the snow leopard. You will be amazed at the sheer dedication and commitment he brings to his trade and the effort he makes to ensure that his guests leave happy. Norbu interacts closely with the local people and uses the network of local intelligence to narrow down the likely sites. In the process, there will also be plenty of opportunities for you to get insights into local folklore, as well as learn about local customs and traditions.
Snow Leopards – are some of the most elusive big cats remaining in the world because they live in such remote areas of Central Asia. There are thought to be between 3,500 and 7000 snow leopards left in the wild.
Due to the rugged terrain of the Himalayas, most of the herbivores are related to the agile footed sheep and goats. They can move easily through the mountainous regions of the Himalayas from one pasture to the next. During the winter months, the Ibex move down to lower altitudes where there is food and they are followed by the snow leopards and other predators like the Tibetan Wolf. These ungulates form the primary snow leopards diet and it is through the movements of these ungulates and trails left by snow leopard moving across habitats that one can improve the chances of seeing the snow leopard in its natural environment. Every day we head out in different directions to track this Grey Ghost. Other than Snow Leopard, this region is home to various other species including Yak (wild Ox), Ibex, Tibetan Wolf & red fox.
After a hearty breakfast, you will begin the return journey back to your accommodations in Leh. Sit back and enjoy the wonderful scenery along the way.
Once you have checked out of your hotel in Leh, you will be met by your driver and transferred to the Leh airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Delhi.
Upon arrival in Delhi, you will be met and transferred to a conveniently located airport hotel to rest and relax.
At the appropriate time, you will be met and transferred back to the Delhi airport for your international flight home. We wish you safe and happy travels home!
With an ideal location less than five kilometers (10 minutes) from Indira Gandhi International Airport (DEL), the Radisson Blu Plaza Delhi Airport provides upscale accommodations and convenient city access. For some holiday fun, explore India's capital city, home to popular attractions like Qutab Minar and the thriving neighborhood of Mehrauli, just a 20-minute drive away. The hotel is also located close to Delhi's shopping malls, including DLF Emporio mall, Ambience Mall and the shops at Connaught Place. The hotel's 261 rooms and suites offer free high-speed, wireless Internet and peaceful garden views, and an on-site spa provides the perfect retreat after a busy day.
In the ancient city of Ladakh, The Grand Dragon extends a warm and luxurious welcome to adventurous travelers from all around the world. The superior service and level of expertise caters to the needs of all guests, in order to ensure that you are able to make the very most of your stay in Ladakh and savor the memorable experiences. The hotel property features a large and lovely outdoor area, perfect to kick back and relax in, following a long day of sightseeing in the city.
The Snow Leopard Lodge is the only dedicated wildlife lodge in Ladakh. It began originally as a homestay owned by one of Ladakh’s top snow leopard trackers – Tchewang Norbu – under the auspices of a program initiated by the Snow Leopard Conservancy designed to use tourism as a conservation tool for the preservation of snow leopards and their ecosystem by putting revenue directly into the local community. The Lodge is located in the village of Ulley in West Ladakh, at an altitude of 13,000 feet. It is 2 - 3 hours driving time from Leh. Ulley itself is a hamlet of just 7 houses beyond which are the high summer pastures. This is excellent Ibex country and an area that has only recently been developed for Snow Leopard tracks. It has quickly gained a reputation not just for the high numbers of Snow Leopards but as one of the best areas to see Ibex, Urial, Wolf, Red Fox, Bearded, and Himalayan Griffon Vultures and Golden Eagles. The Snow Leopard lodge is also open in the summer from which to enjoy not just the stunning high altitude fauna, but also the flora of Ladakh, both on foot and using vehicles, guided all the way by our excellent nature guides and spotters.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.
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