Snow leopard in winter
Walking, scanning, or following tracks in an icy landscape is the modus operandi of this trip. The euphoria when this magical cat finally gets discovered will be equal to the best party you ever had. Pure magic! For the Spartans among the nature lovers who want to do something special to celebrate the end of the year. Apart from a local Stone Marten appearing on daily basis consuming dinner leftovers near the tented camp, other ungulates and predators during this trip are: Asiatic Ibex, Blue Sheep, Urial, Tibetan Wolf, Mountain Weasel, Golden Eagle, Lammergeier.
People interested in joining this tour:
- have be eager to search long periods for one of the world’s most enigmatic and rare animals in it’s natural environment
- can’t be afraid of real adventure (camping and walking in hilly terrain on high altitude)
- must be in good shape and capable to carry their own tripod, telescope and binoculars.
Note: Although EB5 has been twice successful during the year change, shifting this trip towards late winter – the period when Snow Leopards are vocal – is an option too. Besides their vocal behaviour, period of day light does increase a bit during winter and – although this is very relative on the roof of the world – temperatures might be a bit better.
Snow leopard high up in the Himalayas
Snow leopards do not occur in parks with an entrance gate, where people quickly pop in from their resort. Their natural habitat still is vast, desolate and not situated near overpopulated human areas. Instead of the well known gypsy ride safaris in Central India, it’s all about finding a snow leopard high up in the Himalayas. Up here, their natural prey still is abundant: marmots, blue sheep and ibex. Although everything is done to make the stay comfortable, accommodation will never be as good as in classic resorts or hotels, adding to the unique atmosphere. Despite this limitations, it’s an experience beyond all expectations. All potential areas that will be visited during both tours, are still pristine with humanization being limited or absent. Apart from snow leopards, other animals on top of the food chain are not scarce. While looking for the mythical cat, also Tibetan wolves, Himalayan griffon & bearded-vultures and golden-eagles will be spotted. Professional co-guiding by resident and experienced snow leopard trackers the key to success. Without them, chances are limited and less guaranteed.
The portable base camp is well equipped with cozy, quality iglo tents, a central heated dining room, and a basic fenced toilet and shower. Also homestead facilities will occasionally be used as an overnight facility. During arrival and departure days, all comfort is available in a hotel in Leh city. This hotel will also be used to overnight when shifting from one area to another as a compensation for the basic standards while camping. Catering is delicious and always plenty full. Preparing all kinds of different dishes on daily basis, master cook Urgen will prepare an extravaganza of fresh food. Where ever situated during lunch time, porters will always pop up with a warm lunch that will be consumed in the field.
Temperatures during day time still pleasant. Once the valleys are sunlit, it is common to stroll through the area in a t-shirt. But from the moment in the afternoon when the sun disappears behind the hills, things change. Once this happens at an altitude like this, the cold can arrive in a minute. This is especially the case near lake Tsokar. Apart from being the highest (4600m altitude), most remote and pristine region visited during the trip, the area is flat and well known to be windy. This means it’s important to dress and undress all the time to protect you against overheating and hypothermia.
It is necessary to take a complete set of clothes in order to feel comfortable when being all day in the field. It’s the only way to prevent you from consequences that extreme circumstances in this harsh environment might cause. Having these items to be protected against all elements (wind, cold and sun) a need to have: gloves, head, cap, sun cream, sunglasses, thermal underwear, ski-trousers, a windproof jacket, 4 season sleeping bag and footwear of good quality (SORELS).