Called Shan in Ladakhi, Irbis in Mongolian, Tai-Lung in Kung Fu Panda or Unica Unica by scientists, the Snow leopard is considered by many to be the most enigmatic of the big cat families. With a habitat range limited to some of the most hostile environments in the world, little is known about this remarkable animal which makes the prospect of spotting one a memory little else can compare to.
The Snow leopard is the ultimate predator in habitats where stone and rubble are the only elements for camouflage, scree and suspended cliffs the hunting grounds.Paws specially adapted to bursts of speeds and stealth that borders on the surreal, has earned it the sobriquet of,”The Phantom Stalker”
Hemis National Park is situated in the eastern part of Ladakh with a general elevation over 3000 meters. It covers an area of 600sq.kms in the valleys of Markha and Rumbak. This high altitude protected area was created in 1981 for the conservation and protection of its unique flora and fauna. The terrain surrounding the Park is generally rocky with thin soil cover supporting a poor vegetation growth. Streams and rivers have laid a thick deposit of sand along their banks. The climate of the area is sub-arctic to arctic with less rainfall during summers and heavy snowfall during winters and temperature dropping much below freezing point. There are many rare and endangered animal species found in this cold desert, amongst which are the elusive Snow Leopard, Ibex, Tibetan Antelope, Blue Sheep, Shapo (Ladakh Urial), Marmot, Tibetan Hare etc. The avi fauna found are the Snow Patridge, Golden Oriole, Snow Cock, Golden Eagle, Horned Lark, Red Billed Chuff etc.
Our trip leader and wild-life expert on this trip is a leading young naturalist from these parts. His childhood and adult life has been spent exploring this remote and harsh region with a passion for its remarkable and delicate eco-system. He has recently authored a book on the wild life of the Greater Himalayas which can be currently found on the shelves of leading book stores across the country. A personally autographed copy of the same will be a memento you will receive if you choose to be part of our trips.His photo database and stories relating to some of the more spectacular shots are the perfect back drop to evenings, spent around the fire when in camp.
In the winter months of January and February, the harsh winter forces high altitude herbivores to descend ,allowing for the best opportunities for spotting this most elusive of cats.
Please check our event calender to sign up for one of our up-coming fixed departure or send us an enquiry if you would like us to customise a trip for you.