Wildlife viewing trip through the high altitude desert of Ladakh, enclosed by the Himalaya and Karakorum, in search of its stunning montane fauna and the legendary Snow leopard.
- Trekking through the unspoilt valleys of Ladakh, the Himalayan ecosystem
- Observing the elusive, almost mythical Snow leopard into the wild
- Argali, Tibetan wolves, Urial, Blue sheep and the other protagonists
- Lake Tsokar, the Asiatic ibex and the Tibetan wild ass
- The avifauna of rock habitats; the Himalayan griffon
- Tibetan buddhist monasteries; the culture of the Gelug-pa monks
Arctic cold desert areas of Ladakh have a little extreme climate, the summers (May-August) can get a little harsh with direct sunlight falling at such a high altitude (temperature up to 33°C) and winters (October-May) can be really cold, with temperatures dropping below freezing point (-20°C).
Enclosed by the Karakorum and Hymalaya, Ladakh (with its capital Leh) is the highest plateau in the Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir, with a population of 232.864 residents split roughly in half between Tibetan Buddhists and Shia Muslims, and some small minorities of Hindus. Subsistence agriculture is the main economy, with extensive barley and apricot farms along the Indo and Zanskar rivers. The last nomadic Khampa pastoralists can be encounter in the south, whereas in the Nubra Valley apricot farms and Bactrian camel livestocks prevail. Pashima fibre has emerged as a new product of commercial importance in recent times. Closed to tourism until 1974, Ladakh is now one of the best destination for Buddhist pilgrims, hiking and rafting on Indo and Zanskar rivers.
Biodiversity: Hemis National Park is a high altitude national park (between 3000 and 6000 m above sea level) that extends over 4400 sq. km on the Karakorum – Western Tibet plateau alpine steppe. This wild, rocky and untamed landscape is an amazing area for spotting its most famous, most enigmatic, and most elusive inhabitant: the Snow leopard, but it harbours a rich community of rare and ecologically significant species, including the Argali, the Bharal (the Blue sheep), the Urial, the Asiatic ibex, the Tibetan wolf, in addition to bears, lynx, etc. The avifauna is equally significant, and among highlights it’s worthy to mention the Bearded vulture, the Golden eagle and the Himalayan griffon.
Over 200 snow leopards live in the area, and the population appears healthy.
The area of Lake Tsokar (a high altitude salt lake surrounded by mountains up to 6300 m high) is home to many different montane mammals, including the Tiang (the Tibetan wild ass), the Tibetan wolf, the Argali, the Tibetan gazelle and the Asiatic ibex.
Cultural heritage: Leh has a population of 10.000, and is dominated by the ruined Leh Palace, the former mansion of the royal family of Ladakh, built in the same style and about the same time as the Potala Palace and the magnificent Tsas Soma Mosque. It is also famous for the frequent visits by the XIV Dalai Lama. Other interesting places are the Buddhist villages of Lamayuru, Atitse, Bagso, Hemis (famous for its massive homonym monastery), Alchi and its monastery with impressive wall paintings, Likir, the Shia villages of Draas and Karghil, on the Pakistan Azad Kashmir border. Ladakh is not subject to terrorism acts as the adjacent Kashmir, and Buddhist – Muslims relations are built on religious tolerance.
The trip will be led and accompanied by one Biosfera Itinerari expert biologist guide who will be responsible of logistics, activities and tour guidance.
- All transfers to/from Leh airport
- Hotel in Leh and Eco-Resort during the trip extension to Tsokar
- Camping fees
- Wildlife fees
- Tents (single or double), 7,6cm mattresses, heated dining tent, toilet tent
- Carriage of personal baggage to/from camp using horses/mules
- Excursions as described
- Three meals per day until breakfast on last day
- Tea, coffee, potable water
- Services of camp cook, camp staff, local guides/spotters
- Guidance from a Biosfera Itinerari Biologist
- A comprehensive travel insurance package
- All flights and airport taxes
- Cost of Procedure Management (30 euro)
- Cancelling insurance (facultative)
- Personal items, tips, laundry, phone calls
- All drinks other than tea coffee, potable water
- Additional renting of sleeping bags
- Additional meals not included in the section “The price includes”
- Additional costs incurred due to flight delays/cancellations, road closures or any other factors beyond our control
- Personal Porter (you will not need to carry anything from the trailhead up to camp at the beginning of our camp, nor back to the road at the end of the camp. However, on all days whilst we are searching for the Snow leopards, anything that you want with you, such as your camera, tripod, telescope, small daypack with extra clothing layers, etc, you will have to carry. However, you may, for a small additional fee, opt to hire your own personal porter for the duration of the camp)
- Voluntary activities and service tips, and in general everything not mentioned in section “The price includes”
Disclaimer 1: Please note this is an indicative and standard itinerary. Dates, activities and the succession and length of each part of the itinerary may change each year, and can be rearranged with the participants. Upon request by the participants, we will send the definitive and detailed programme to be evaluated at least some weeks prior to the confirmation deadline.
Disclaimer 2: We will generally honor the posted prices, but these are subject to change at any time due to action or decisions made by local authorities. In such situations, and in the hope that will not happen, we will send all the ministries official communications to all participants, free from ambiguity and in total transparency. We reserve the right to correct the final price to the fullest extent permitted by law.