Among the rugged mountain landscapes of Ladakh, lives possibly the most elusive of the big cats: the Snow Leopard. As pioneers of this specially designed trip, Asian Adventures have tweaked it over 15 years to give us the optimum chance of spotting one of these beautiful creatures. Our trained guides and local trackers almost always ensure at least a glimpse of this magnificent predator in its natural habitat. We will also enjoy the other unique wildlife that this high-altitude habitat has to offer, including Asiatic Ibex, Bharal (Blue Sheep), Argali, and Tibetan Wolf (the subspecies of the global Grey Wolf found in Nepal and Tibet as well as the Indian Trans-Himalaya region).
Although we are focussed primarily on Snow Leopard, Ladakh supports some local and specialised birds. Expect to see Golden Eagle, Himalayan Vulture, Himalayan Snowcock, Chukar Partridge, Ibisbill, Brown and White-throated Dipper, Red- and Yellow-billed Chough, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Robin Accentor, Horned Lark, Red-fronted Serin, Black-winged (Tibetan) Snowfinch and more.
There isn’t much that can beat the sight of Snow Leopards in this stark and stunning landscape: maybe extend a few days and see if Brown Bears can at least match it?! Or start the trip with a different Leopard species?!
Day 1: Arrive in Delhi
You will be met and transferred to the hotel.
Depending on your arrival time, we can arrange some birding in the Delhi area, most likely at Okhla Bird Sanctuary. Despite the pressures of an urban population approaching 20 million people, this small sanctuary on the banks of the polluted Yamuna River offers some excellent birding, with a good chance of the resident Striated Grassbird, Striated Babbler and possibly White-tailed Stonechat.
Day 2: Delhi to Leh
A morning flight to Leh gives some spectacular Himalayan mountain views, with the peaks of K2, Nanga Parbat, Gasherbrum on one side and the Nun Kun massif on the other. The rest of the day will be spent at leisure. With Leh being at an altitude of more than 3,500 m, it is important to acclimatise to avoid acute mountain sickness (AMS), and the best way is to rest as much as possible for the first day or so. Nothing more strenuous than a chat over tea in the hotel today!
Day 3: Leh
Another rest day in Leh, although in the afternoon we will so some relaxed birding in the local area to get used to some of the common species. We can also take a short stroll through Leh’s main bazaar and enjoy a taste of the local Tibetan cuisine!
Day 4: Leh to Rumbak Valley via Zinchan
Zinchan is the entry point to the Rumbak Valley, in Hemis National Park, the home of the Snow Leopard. The bleak but spectacular landscape supports animals and birds uniquely evolved to handle life in this harsh region.
Days 5 – 10: Rumbak Valley
We have six full days to spend exploring different areas of this picturesque, open landscape. Expect lots of scanning of distant hillsides, and see if you can be the first to spot our target: it’s very difficult to beat our expert local trackers whose eyesight seems to be bionic!
Birds are certainly not to be ignored and our frequent scanning of the hillsides should find Himalayan Snowcock and Tibetan Partridge, whilst Bearded and Himalayan Vultures and Golden Eagles should be regularly encountered. Both Red-billed and Yellow-billed Choughs are present here, along with Eurasian Magpie, Horned Lark, Robin and Brown Accentors, Great Rosefinch, Black-headed Mountain Finch and Twite. The beautiful White-browed Tit-Warbler is also a possibility.
Day 11: Rumbak Valley to Leh
With our time in Hemis National Park over, and hopefully some incredible Snow Leopard encounters to remember, we head back to Leh with some time for birding along the Indus River.
Day 12: Leh to Delhi (or stay in Leh for Brown Bear extension)
Those who are leaving this morning will take a flight back to Delhi, whilst the rest of us will enjoy some more birding in the marshes around Leh, looking for a few species that we did not find in the Rumbak Valley, prior to leaving for more exciting large mammal hunting tomorrow!
View species bar chart on eBird.
As with all Bubo Birding tours, your booking is handled by Asian Adventures.
This tour is guided by Mike Prince, plus local birding guides.
- Prices quoted are per person, assuming an exclusive 2 person tour. Larger group sizes attract a discounted per person price, which we will confirm to you on enquiry.
- International flights are excluded.
- We may change the itinerary described due to various reasons such as latest birding information, availability of accommodation, state of the roads, and other unexpected factors that, this being India, do pop up from time to time!
- The final price and itinerary will be confirmed before booking and depending on your expected arrival and departure plans.
See Asian Adventures for full tour details, including accommodation, what's included, other exclusions, prices for larger groups, single room supplements, and booking details.