Snow Leopards

Phantom of the Himalayas

At BigAnimals Expeditions we usually adventure below the sea, but on this trip things will be a little different. First, we plan to stay dry. Second, we will trek up over 15,000 feet into the Himalayan provinces of northern India.

It’s within these rugged, snowy peaks and valleys that we will find many of the world’s 3,500 remaining snow leopards, living reclusively, spread out across this vast, remote area of Central Asia, subsisting by hunting small game, raiding domestic animals, and hiding – especially from people. They are the most elusive of all the big cats, and it takes a highly motivated person to rise to the challenge of finding them.

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SNOW LEOPARD EXPEDITION

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  • Experience: 2 yrs
  • Expedition Leader: Jon Cornforth
  • Duration: 17 days
  • Max No. of Guests: : 6
  • Pricing:
    • 2015: $9,800/person
    • 2016: $10,800/person
    • (airfare not included)
  • 2015 Deposit: $3,200
  • Activities: Photography, Hiking and Climbing, Exploring
  • Temperature:
    • Day: 40F(-5C)/sunny to -14F(-10C)/ snow & wind
    • Night: -13F(-25C)/extreme cold & snow
Day 1: ARRIVE in Delhi, clear customs, and check into hotel. Usually flights in India arrive late night, hence we will give you time to rest this night.

Day 2: Wake up at leisure. It is important to adjust to the time change before heading to Leh. A short sightseeing tour would be arranged. If any necessities need to be bought, this would be the day. Dinner at a local restaurant with briefing.

Day 3: Fly to Leh, the ancient capital of the former Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. Our local guides will take us to Hotel Lotus. Spend the day relaxing and acclimating to the altitude (11,500 feet!). Lotus is a family run hotel. Heating is provided in the room through heaters and hot water bottles. It is essential to start getting used to the cold. We spend the day continuing to get used to the altitude, visiting the local sights such as the ancient Buddhist monasteries and the bustling markets around Leh. Return to the Lotus for overnight

Day 4: Drive to Zinchen, and begin our trek through snow leopard country. Pack horses carry the bulk of our gear, you’ll carry a small day- pack, your binoculars and camera. We’ll spend 2 – 3 hours hiking to our first campsite, a distance of about 5 kilometers (a little over 3 miles). Spend the night in the sleeping bag you brought (it needs to be rated to at least –25 degrees C). We supply the 2-person tents and mattresses. This is Hemis National Park and we will be in the Husing Valley.

Day 5-15: We’re now at around 12,500 feet, and we should all feel pretty comfortable hiking around at this height. We’ll trek to nearby valleys and rock formations looking for blue sheep, because the snow leopards are looking for blue sheep, too. The program everyday is not fixed. Everything will depend on weather conditions and snow leopard movements. The idea is to have the best possibility to track our grey ghost (Snow Leopard). We may move camp, trekking a few hours to the very remote village of Rumbak, where snow leopards are known to prey on livestock. Again this will depend on messages coming through passing villagers that may make us aware about sightings. We’ll camp near town, but spend the evening enjoying Tibetan hospitality with the locals. There is a possibility we may stay in a homestay.

Day 16: We leave the mountain and we set out back for Zinchen and driven back to Leh. Clean up. pack in, Rest and take hot shower or bath.

Day 17: We take you to the airport for morning flight to Delhi. Once there, the day will be spent at your leisure. A day room will be booked for you, as well as arrangements for your evening transfer to airport for international flight.

 

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*Trip details, e.g., dates, prices, vessel, accommodations, are subject to change without prior notice

February in the Himalayas

As we said before, the snow leopard is the most elusive of all the big cats, but the good news is that February seems to be a great time to see them, and on our recent scout trip, not only did we find the Snow Leopards, but as you can see in the image above, Amos was able to get a very rare photograph two of them displaying affection in the wild — something never before published. No small feat in a day and age where there is almost nothing left un-photographed. We hope you’ll join us next year to document your own experience with this rare and beautiful treasure.

Fit For the Journey

To join this expedition, you’ll have to be motivated, and you’ll also have to be in very good shape. Fit enough to climb hills at high altitude, grounded enough to endure extremes of cold, and patient enough to stalk a phantom. This expedition will be a taxing, but exhilarating adventure. It will afford you the rare opportunity to spend time in one of the world’s last truly wild places, in search of a majestic, reclusive animal that only the most adventurous and intrepid will ever have the privilege of seeing in the wild.

Tremendous Scouting and Support

“We owe a tremendous thank you to our guides, particularly Gyalson and Gurment; they found the cats for us, and to our sherpas, who carried our cameras, tripods, and sometimes ourselves up the steep hills. These local people are strong, willing, and very proud in their work helping tourists like you and me experience this beautiful but difficult country. Without them I would not have my images or my story, so they have my deepest respect and gratitude. Every morning, our two master guides left, equipped with radio transmitters, at 6:30 AM, to scout the mountains around for telltale signs of the Leopard’s resting area after its night of hunting or traveling. Each guide team chose one of three main sighting positions, sharing information via radio, thus covering the whole section of the valley. That way everyone along the valley was able to share information so that we might be able to finally see the wily and elusive feline. By 9:00 AM the guides would either call us to join them, or return to camp to get us.”

 TOUR PRICE INCLUDES

  • 2 nights hotel in New Delhi
  • 15 nights of mixed accommodation – (hotels, guest house and camping)
  • 11 days of trekking, all meals and Sherpa assistance through the program
  • Two state of the Art Scopes
  • All transfers, in accordance with group activities
  • Photography seminar/photo coaching by Jon Cornford

TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • All International flights
  • Domestic Airfare to and from Delhi
  • Overweight luggage or excess baggage
  • Sleeping bag
  • Meals which aren’t specified
  • Personal charges such as laundry, bar, and telecommunication charges
  • Insurance – we strongly recommend you buy your own travel, health, and diving insurance
  • Gratuities

PAYMENT & DEPOSIT POLICY

When we receive your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive and detailed Trip Preparation Bulletin about the experience and the destination. All trip costs are subject to change without prior notice until your reservation is confirmed.

  • A deposit of 33% of the total trip price is required to secure space on the trip.
  • Full payment is due no later than 90 days before departure.
  • We reserve the right to sell any space that is not paid in full by 60 days before departure.
  • Cancellation Policy
    • Must be made in writing.
    • More than 90 days before trip: Deposit will be refunded in full.
    • 90 days or less before trip: Deposit will be refunded if space is sold, less unrecoverable costs of sales, and administration costs.
    • No refund is made for unused part of the itinerary.
  • The following are subject to change:
    • Cost of services which are not included in the expedition price
    • Flight time and schedule
    • Weather, water temperature, and animal behavior

SNOW LEOPARD EXPEDITION DETAILS

February in the Himalayas

As we said before, the snow leopard is the most elusive of all the big cats, but the good news is that February seems to be a great time to see them, and on our recent scout trip, not only did we find the Snow Leopards, but as you can see in the image above, Amos was able to get a very rare photograph two of them displaying affection in the wild — something never before published. No small feat in a day and age where there is almost nothing left un-photographed. We hope you’ll join us next year to document your own experience with this rare and beautiful treasure.

Fit For the Journey

To join this expedition, you’ll have to be motivated, and you’ll also have to be in very good shape. Fit enough to climb hills at high altitude, grounded enough to endure extremes of cold, and patient enough to stalk a phantom. This expedition will be a taxing, but exhilarating adventure. It will afford you the rare opportunity to spend time in one of the world’s last truly wild places, in search of a majestic, reclusive animal that only the most adventurous and intrepid will ever have the privilege of seeing in the wild.

Tremendous Scouting and Support

“We owe a tremendous thank you to our guides, particularly Gyalson and Gurment; they found the cats for us, and to our sherpas, who carried our cameras, tripods, and sometimes ourselves up the steep hills. These local people are strong, willing, and very proud in their work helping tourists like you and me experience this beautiful but difficult country. Without them I would not have my images or my story, so they have my deepest respect and gratitude. Every morning, our two master guides left, equipped with radio transmitters, at 6:30 AM, to scout the mountains around for telltale signs of the Leopard’s resting area after its night of hunting or traveling. Each guide team chose one of three main sighting positions, sharing information via radio, thus covering the whole section of the valley. That way everyone along the valley was able to share information so that we might be able to finally see the wily and elusive feline. By 9:00 AM the guides would either call us to join them, or return to camp to get us.”

ITINERARY

 

Day 1: ARRIVE in Delhi, clear customs, and check into hotel. Usually flights in India arrive late night, hence we will give you time to rest this night.

Day 2: Wake up at leisure. It is important to adjust to the time change before heading to Leh. A short sightseeing tour would be arranged. If any necessities need to be bought, this would be the day. Dinner at a local restaurant with briefing.

Day 3: Fly to Leh, the ancient capital of the former Himalayan kingdom of Ladakh. Our local guides will take us to Hotel Lotus. Spend the day relaxing and acclimating to the altitude (11,500 feet!). Lotus is a family run hotel. Heating is provided in the room through heaters and hot water bottles. It is essential to start getting used to the cold. We spend the day continuing to get used to the altitude, visiting the local sights such as the ancient Buddhist monasteries and the bustling markets around Leh. Return to the Lotus for overnight

Day 4: Drive to Zinchen, and begin our trek through snow leopard country. Pack horses carry the bulk of our gear, you’ll carry a small day- pack, your binoculars and camera. We’ll spend 2 – 3 hours hiking to our first campsite, a distance of about 5 kilometers (a little over 3 miles). Spend the night in the sleeping bag you brought (it needs to be rated to at least –25 degrees C). We supply the 2-person tents and mattresses. This is Hemis National Park and we will be in the Husing Valley.

Day 5-15: We’re now at around 12,500 feet, and we should all feel pretty comfortable hiking around at this height. We’ll trek to nearby valleys and rock formations looking for blue sheep, because the snow leopards are looking for blue sheep, too. The program everyday is not fixed. Everything will depend on weather conditions and snow leopard movements. The idea is to have the best possibility to track our grey ghost (Snow Leopard). We may move camp, trekking a few hours to the very remote village of Rumbak, where snow leopards are known to prey on livestock. Again this will depend on messages coming through passing villagers that may make us aware about sightings. We’ll camp near town, but spend the evening enjoying Tibetan hospitality with the locals. There is a possibility we may stay in a homestay.

Day 16: We leave the mountain and we set out back for Zinchen and driven back to Leh. Clean up. pack in, Rest and take hot shower or bath.

Day 17: We take you to the airport for morning flight to Delhi. Once there, the day will be spent at your leisure. A day room will be booked for you, as well as arrangements for your evening transfer to airport for international flight.

TOUR PRICE INCLUDES

  • 2 nights hotel in New Delhi
  • 15 nights of mixed accommodation – (hotels, guest house and camping)
  • 11 days of trekking, all meals and Sherpa assistance through the program
  • Two state of the Art Scopes
  • All transfers, in accordance with group activities
  • Photography seminar/photo coaching by Jon Cornford

TOUR PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE

  • All International flights
  • Domestic Airfare to and from Delhi
  • Overweight luggage or excess baggage
  • Sleeping bag
  • Meals which aren’t specified
  • Personal charges such as laundry, bar, and telecommunication charges
  • Insurance – we strongly recommend you buy your own travel, health, and diving insurance
  • Gratuities

PAYMENT & DEPOSIT POLICY

‘When we receive your deposit, we will send you a comprehensive and detailed Trip Preparation Bulletin about the experience and the destination. All trip costs are subject to change without prior notice until your reservation is confirmed.

  • A non-refundable deposit of 33% of the total trip price is required to secure space on the trip.
  • Full payment is due no later than 90 days before departure.
  • We reserve the right to sell any space that is not paid in full by 60 days before departure.
  • Refund is made if replacement was found less unrecoverable costs of sales, administration special promotion.
  • Cancellation must be made in writing, 90 days before departure.
  • No refund is made for unused part of the itinerary.
  • The following are subject to change:
  • Cost of services which are not included in the expedition price
  • Flight time and schedule
  • Weather, water temperature, and animal behavior

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