Ladakh, India

2016: Mar. 1 – 16

  • Experience: 3 yrs
  • Duration: 17 days
  • Max No. of Guests: : 6
  • Pricing: Please Inquire Below
  • Activities: Photography, Hiking and Climbing, Exploring
  • Temperature:
    • Day: 40F(-5C)/sunny to -14F(-10C)/ snow & wind
    • Night: -13F(-25C)/extreme cold & snow


Updates, Trip Reports, Special Offers

Day 1

Arrive in Delhi, clear customs, and check into hotel. Usually flights in India arrive late at night, hence we will give you time to rest this evening.

Day 2

Wake up at leisure. It is important to adjust to the time change before heading to leh. A short sightseeing tour will be arranged. If any items 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 omasilla. Spend the day relaxing and acclimating to the altitude (11,500 feet!). omasilla 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 omasilla.

Day 4

Drive to Zinchen, and begin our trek through snow leopard country. Packhorses 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 private tent to each person. 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 everyday program for snow leopard photography is not fixed. Everything will depend on weather conditions and snow leopard movements. the idea is to have the best possibility to track the” ghost cat” (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 village, but spend the evening enjoying tibetan hospitality with the locals. there is a possibility we may stay in a homestay.

At camp we have one heated social tent for eating, meeting and generator to charge your camera batteries. At camp you will have limited supply of fresh water for basic hygiene. A team of sherpa that carry you camera and tripod will support you. other team is dedicated to bring lunch and hot drink during the day no matter how far we are in search of the leopard.

Day 15

We pack up early morning, load our gear on the mule convoy and set out back by foot for Zinchen 2 – 3 hours hike. At Zinchen you meet your van and driven back to Leh. Rest and take hot bath.

Day 16

We take you to the airport for morning flight to Delhi. All day at leisure in Delhi. A day room has been booked for you. Evening transfer to airport for international flight.

The Experience

After patiently waiting for hours, this unimaginable encounter, nature’s ultimate gift, occurred at the end of a long, strenuous climb to 12,500 feet (3,810 m) and up to 14,000 feet (4,267meter)

Not only were we physically challenged by high elevation; we endured bitter cold and harsh terrain. Snow with gale force winds brought daytime temperatures as low as 14F (-10C) with bone chilling nights dropping to -13 F (-25C). Sunny days brought warmer temperatures of 40 F. For twelve days, we trekked trails covered with packed ice crisscrossing frozen rivers. These conditions required immense endurance and physical conditioning.

The first sighting of a leopard mother tenderly loving her two-year-old cub transfixed us. This was not behavior we expected to observe from such a notorious predator. Later in the day, viewing the female morph into what appeared to be a protective mode further amazed us. Our wildlife guide quietly motioned toward an adjacent peak. Emerging from his den, a juvenile male stealthily, but with great agility, climbed the steep terrain toward the female. As the cub approached, the female rose. Emitting a deep guttural sound, the call was one of familiarity and acceptance. The young male was her separated cub.

Instantly, she tucked her chin under his strong neck. Nuzzling him, she maternally closed her eyes while he curiously gazed into the distance.

In our pursuit of snow leopard photography, we were experiencing a moment frozen in time, the perfect image of love observed between a mother and her cub. the only sound on Himalaya’s rugged mountain peaks was the rapid-fire of camera shutters clicking.

Emotional warmth exhibited by these snow leopards, descendants of the pre-historic saber tooth cat or tiger, stands in stark contrast to their winter environment.

The snow leopard’s rarity and beauty attracts a hard-core adventurer capable of experiencing the frigid conditions of the Himalayas.


  • 2 nights hotel in new delhi, single
  • 14 nights of mixed accommodation – hotels leh are based on single accommodation. Camping, private tent for each person
  • 10 days of trekking and snow leopard photography (wildlife permitting)
  • All transfers, in accordance with group activities
  • photography seminar/photo coaching by Nathaniel Smally


  • All International flights
  • Airfare to and from delhi overweight luggage or excess
  • baggage

  • Meals that aren’t specified above
  • personal charges such as laundry, bar, and telecommunication charges

  • Insurance – it is mandatory you buy your own travel, health insurance, including evacuation
  • Gratuities


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

Insurance: you MUST provide proof of travel and diving insurance

Question — how can we help?


Nathaniel Smalley

Expedition Leader

Nathaniel Smalley is a professional nature photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona. Though he calls the American Southwest his home, he leads photography workshops, tours and expeditions to various international destinations as well. Nature has been the greatest source of inspiration for Nathaniel as long as he can remember. His study of photography began early in high school and he continues to explore the art form to this day. Through his images he strives to foster a real love and respect for the natural world by touching the heart of the viewer with its beauty. Whether sharing his knowledge at a workshop in Arizona or somewhere around the world, Nathaniel’s eagerness to teach and outgoing personality ensures workshop participants a wonderful experience. More than just another nature photographer, Nathaniel is also a passionate conservationist. He has done extensive work with various conservation and rehabilitation organizations over the last two decades, filling every role from a volunteer assisting injured birds and mammals to board member. Nathaniel strives at all times to adhere to the highest standards of ethics in nature photography and avoid any of the cheap shortcuts that could in any way harm his subjects or the environment. For him the natural world is a sanctuary where he captures images of the living world and shares them with those who love and appreciate nature as he does. Visit his website to learn more and view his portfolio.





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