Welcome to Birdquest
Birdquest's Snow Leopards & Birds of Ladakh tour is one of those pioneering wilderness adventures that have long been the signature of the company and which represent something quite extraordinary. We are very proud to offer such an unusual trip. Join us for a unique experience in Ladakh, a very special part of the world.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The timing of this tour makes it 'the warm option' for visiting Ladakh and observing Snow Leopards. Temperatures are pleasant at this season and not to be compared with the cold of February/March. In addition, the passes to places like Tso Moriri and Tso Kar are open at this time of year, allowing for a more diverse Ladakh experience.
The bewitching Snow Leopard is one of the most evocative mammals of our planet and on this new tour we will make a big effort to try to see this mythical creature in the majestic mountains of Ladakh.
Although everyone knows about this extraordinary mammal, very few people have ever laid eyes upon it, but in the remote valleys of the Hemis National Park in the western Himalayas we stand a good chance to observe ‘the ghost of the mountains’. We will have to spend plenty of time scanning and patrolling barren mountain slopes, but with a modicum of luck we should be able to get decent views of this most alluring of cats.
Ladakh, "land of high passes", situated in the state of Kashmir Jammu in northern India, is by far the best place in the world to get to grips with this fascinating creature. Until recently, it was virtually impossible to see a Snow Leopard in the wild and the stories of very lucky people who had bumped into one by sheer chance have been perpetrated ad infinitum. Although the Snow Leopard occurs in twelve countries in central Asia, sightings of this incredibly secretive cat have always been sporadic. But now, with the help of our very knowledgeable Ladakhi guide/tracker, Jigmet Dadul, and his expert team, who have studied Snow Leopards for many years and developed an extraordinary knowledge of this elusive creature, we will explore several secluded valleys of the Hemis National Park, where a healthy population of this enthralling mammal survives.
The fauna of Ladakh has much in common with that of Central Asia in general and that of the Tibetan Plateau in particular. The Hemis National park naturally holds good numbers of other large mammals, including Bharal or Blue Sheep, Asiatic Ibex, Ladakh Urial, Tibetan Argali, Himalayan Marmot, Woolly Hare, Royle’s Pika, Red Fox and Mountain Weasel.
Hemis is also a marvellous place for birding and we should see Himalayan Snowcock, Lammergeier, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Upland Buzzard, Golden Eagle, Saker, White-winged (or Güldenstädt’s) Redstart, Wallcreeper, Sulphur-bellied Warbler, Robin Accentor, Tibetan Snowfinch, Fire-fronted (or Red-fronted) Serin and Blyth's and Streaked Rosefinches.
Ladakh is renowned for its remote mountain beauty and culture. It is sometimes called ‘Little Tibet’ as it has been strongly influenced by Tibetan culture. In the past Ladakh gained importance from its strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes, but since the Chinese authorities closed the borders with Tibet and Central Asia in the 1960s, international trade has dwindled except for tourism. Since Ladakh is a part of the Kashmir dispute, the Indian military maintains a strong presence in the region.
The Hemis National Park is of course the main venue of this tour, but we will also visit the surroundings of Leh, where Ibisbill and Solitary Snipe live. We will also explore the famous high altitude lake of Tsokar, where herds of Kiang (Asiatic Wild Ass) graze and where there are several pairs of endangered Black-necked Crane and good numbers of Tibetan Sandgrouse, both of which we will be excited to observe.
Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotel in Leh is of good standard. During the camping sections each participant will have their own tent. Although the tents are two person tents, we do not feel they are roomy enough for two normal-sized people plus luggage. Couples may of course opt to put luggage in one tent and sleep in the other. Next to the sleeping tents, there is a large dining tent, a toilet tent and a shower tent. Main roads are mostly reasonable but minor roads and high passes on the major roads are unsurfaced.
Walking: The walking effort is mostly moderate in Hemis National Park (occasionally fairly demanding), but mostly easy in the Leh region and at Tsokar.
Climate: Predominantly dry and sunny, but some overcast weather and rain (or rarely even snow) is likely and wind is a regular feature of the mountains. Temperatures generally range from cool to warm, but it can be quite cold at night at higher altitudes.
Bird & Mammal Photography: Opportunities are good.
These are provisional prices
Tour Price: £3780, €4460, $4950 Leh/Leh.
Price includes all transportation, all accommodations, all meals, bottled water, some drinks, all excursions, all entrance fees, all tips for local drivers/guides and for accommodations/restaurants, leader services.
Single Room/Tent Supplement: £240, €283, $314. During the camping nights all participants have their own individual tent, so the supplement relates to the hotel nights only.
Deposit: £450, €540, $590.
Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency can arrange your air travel in connection with the tour from a departure point anywhere in the world, or you may arrange your own air travel if you prefer. We can tailor-make your itinerary to your personal requirements, so if you would like to travel in advance of the tour (and spend a night in an hotel so you will feel fresh when the tour starts), or return later than the end of the tour, or make a side trip to some other destination, or travel business class rather than economy, we will be happy to assist. Please contact us about your air travel requirements.
Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays on this website are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed on this website. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOL Certificate
Birdquest Ltd is Registered in England, Company No. 01568270. The address of our registered office is Two Jays, Kemple End, Stonyhurst, Clitheroe, Lancashire BB7 9QYtop of page
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