The snow leopard is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It is listed as ‘vulnerable’ on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species because the global population is estimated to number less than 10,000 mature individuals and decline about 10% in the next 23 years. As of 2016, the global population was estimated at 4,678 to 8,745 mature individuals.
This epic photography adventure takes you to Hemis National Park, Ladakh – India’s most protected Snow Leopard area – with adventure travel photographer and expedition doctor, Andrew Peacock. With Andrew sharing his expert knowledge on wildlife and travel photography in conjunction with expert trackers on hand to trace the cats’ scents, trails, and markings, this journey will keep the pulse racing as you follow every sign of their movements whilst exploring some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.
This snow leopard tracking expedition offers you the chance to see these ‘ghosts of the mountains’ as they track their prey through the spectacular high altitude terrain of the National Park. It is a special opportunity to witness these stunning cats in their natural environment – and to capture all this through your camera lens. Since Snow Leopards are generally found at elevations between 3000-4500m, your daily treks from our comfortable base camp will take you through stunning Himalayan alpine and sub-alpine zones where vegetation is sparse and temperatures are extreme. Snow Leopards are opportunistic predators and are most active at dawn and dusk and show a strong preference for cliffy habitat with moderately to very broken terrain, rocky outcrops and ravines.
Andrew will be on hand throughout the itinerary and to help you learn how to best take advantage of the fantastic photographic opportunities that this trip offers. While professional level camera equipment will help you get the best images in what is a challenging environment, all skill and equipment levels are catered for. As an adventure travel photographer, his intent is to create images that tell stories of human exploration and adventure in areas of natural beauty and wonder. Andrew’s inspiration comes from the activities, landscapes, wildlife, and people of the outdoor world.
You will have five full days to trek and explore the National Park. Distances covered and the level of activity will depend on wildlife sightings and how strenuous you wish to make the trek. You are likely to see signs of the snow leopard, as winter is the time that they descend to lower elevations. If you are lucky, you may see one perched high on the rocks or balanced effortlessly on a sheer vertical ridge. Whilst in the National Park, Andrew will again be your guide on the trails and offer his expertise to help you get the best photographic results from your Himalayan wildlife experiences.
Snow leopard sightings are a game of patience. Your schedule on these days is subject to previous sightings of the snow leopards, and your guide will collect information from locals and other guides on a daily basis to determine the movement of your day. You will either follow on from the previous day’s route, or trek and explore nearby areas, waiting and watching for the gracious Snow Leopards using a scope.
The moment you witness these beautiful and elegant cats, your breath will be taken away. Everything will seem silent as you watch, captivated by their beauty. Soft padding paws, brush like powerful tails. Every move planned and executed with precision. This will truly be one of the most awe inspiring moments of your journey. Watch as they scavenge and search for prey. Camouflaged so perfectly into the snow covered rocky terrain. The only sounds to be heard are your gasps of amazement and the click of camera shutters. You will never forget this moment.
Although Snow Leopards are the main attraction, Hemis National Park is also home to blue sheep, argali (a large horned sheep), numerous mountain and migratory birds, as well as an occasional Tibetan wolf. At the end of each day, you will return to camp for some warm food and hot tea and exchange tales of your sightings.
More information about this experience can be found on our website. If you would like to make this experience yours then contact us so we can help you secure your spot on this amazing adventure of a lifetime – places are limited. We look forward to welcoming you on our Snow Leopard Tracking Photography Tour 2019.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.