A WORLD CLASS PHOTOGRAPHY
In Search of the Elusive Snow Leopard: Hemis National Park,
Zingchan, Leh & More
“Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
Let Us Plan The Most Incredible
Adventure This Destination Can Offer
A Lifetime Experience and Steve have partnered up to offer our clients an amazing opportunity. Steve is renowned as the world’s leading big cat photographer and famous for creating situations that are often life changing!
End Feb - March
Steve Winter has been attacked by rhinos in India, stalked by jaguars in Brazil, charged by an 11-foot grizzly in Siberia, and trapped in quicksand in the world's largest tiger reserve in Myanmar. He has slept in a tent for six months at -40 below zero tracking snow leopard, flown over erupting volcanoes, and visited isolated villages where residents have never before seen a blond foreigner—or a camera.
During a childhood growing up in rural Indiana, Steve dreamed of traveling the world as a photographer for National Geographic Magazine. His first camera was a gift from his father on his seventh birthday. He became a National Geographic photojournalist in 1991 and still feels so incredibly lucky to have realized his dream, to have what he calls the best job in the world.
Steve specializes in wildlife, and particularly, big cats. He’s been named 'BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year and BBC Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year'. He was a two-time winner of 'Picture of the Year International’s Global Vision Award' and won 1st prize in the nature story category from 'World Press Photo' in 2008 and 2014. He lectures globally on photography and conservation issues and has appeared on CBS Nightly News, 60 Minutes, NPR, BBC, CNN and other media outlets.
Steve feels that he has a great responsibility not only to show and excite readers about the natural world but about its fascinating people and cultures as well. He wants to give people a reason to care. Above all, he wants to give the readers of National Geographic what he always does.
Tigers are in trouble and National Geographic photographer Steve Winter is on a one-man mission to address the plight of this magnificent cat – while there’s still time.
Together with Panthera, the world’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to saving big cats, and its Tigers Initiative, winter reveals a decade worth of stunning images and stories of tigers in their world. In Tigers Forever, readers follow winter through Myanmar’s leech-infested jungles in search of tigers; into the forbidden realm of poachers in Sumatra; and witness the breathtaking intimacy between a tiger mother and her cub.
Winter’s gripping images, along with co-author Sharon Guynup’s eloquent prose, tell the dramatic story of the tiger’s fight for survival, and the lengths to which one man would go to bring that story to the world. Above all else, Tigers Forever reveals the tiger itself: elusive, majestic, ferocious, powerful, mysterious—and in desperate need of our help to survive.
A Lifetime Experience and Steve have partnered up to offer our clients an amazing opportunity. Steve is renowned as the world’s leading big cat photographer and famous for creating situations that are often life changing! He will lead photography workshops for a select few participants to track and photograph some of the most beautiful and rarest animals in the world, including the elusive and magnificent ‘snow leopard’.
Itinerary: Wildlife tour in India- 09 Days / 08 Nights (recommended) but it can be curtailed to 6-7 nights.
Thank you for choosing A Lifetime Experience to create this incredible lifetime experience for you. I work with the best leading luxury experiential travel and lifestyle companies, worldwide and they take exceptional care of our guests in order to make a difference. Our commitment to sustainable responsible travel, community empowerment, and conservation is world renowned. By embarking on this journey with us, you are helping us realize our vision.
Our private tailor-made journeys offer complete freedom of choice. The itinerary below has been carefully designed to give you a taste of the exciting, endless possibilities and can be tailored to suit your exact preferences.
Duration: 9 days
Highest pass: No passes involved/except while tracking, in Hozing & Rumbaka you may have to climb uphill, depending on wildlife movement.
Grade: Moderate/strenuous (may have to climb a ridge)
Best period: End of Nov – Dec and Starting of Feb– Mid Apr
The Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh is one of the last frontiers for wildlife tourism. A winter trip meets the elements head-on in a stunning and apparently bleak landscape. But within these high valleys created by folds of the Great Himalaya is perhaps the highest density of the most elusive of the great cats - the snow leopard. The very name evokes all that is most wild, mysterious and elusive in nature - for this is an animal that comes cloaked not just in the subtle beauty of its own coat but also in all the high drama of the harsh and magnificent environment that it dominates. The Ladakh region is a high altitude cold desert and for the snow leopard to survive it has a prey base of bharal (blue sheep), ibex and marmots. Wolves, foxes, and wild dogs are other predators in the same area. An attractive contrast also lies between these stone-hard mountain people and the gentle and compassionate Buddhism that they practice. You will have time to visit some of their great monasteries as well as their picturesque villages. Small settlements of Tibetan farmers and their livestock occupy isolated villages on the valley floors.
Please note: that the trek route is one that is based on the experience of your leaders and they have full discretion to change it or alter it, as per their wish. The weather will also be a crucial factor in deciding which places will eventually be visited and what will be dropped from the program.
Day 1 & 2
- Arrive Leh
- Upon arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel.
- 02 Nights at Saboo Resort. Stay: Hotel Cottage Suite – B&B
Day 3 To 7
- This morning after breakfast Drive to Hemis National Park
- En route stopping at Zingchan Village
- Arrive and trek to your camp in Housing Valley
- 05 Nights at Tented Camp Stay - Tented Camp - Full board basis.
- Early breakfast at the camp
- Depart the camp and walk to Zingchan
- Board your vehicle and drive to Leh
- 01 Night at Leh Hotel
Today early morning Depart for the Leh airport to board the outbound flight.
DAY 1: Arrive into Leh by private aircraft.
Welcome to Leh. You will be met and assisted on arrival and then you proceed to your Saboo Resort.
Located in the lap of Zanskar range in Ladakh, only 7 kilometers from Leh Town, The Saboo Resort, was a concept realized to provide tourists and guests with the experience of authentic Ladakhi lifestyle in a peaceful environment and untouched natural surroundings. The name of resort comes from a small idyllic Ladhaki village it is located in, which was once part of the central Asian trade route. The inspiration behind the resort was to create a space, which was away from the humdrum of Leh City. There will be no activity on your first day of arrival as it is recommended for visitors to relax and undergo minimal exertion to enable them to get acclimatized to rarefied oxygen level in this region ensconced in the high-altitude Trans-Himalayan Valley. You might find some birds like the Eurasian Magpie and Great Tit, right around your hotel.
Spend two overnights at Saboo Resort. Accommodation is in 4 Cottage Suites with ensuite facilities. Your stay is on bed & breakfast basis.
DAY 2: LEH Spend the day acclimatizing.
DAY 03 TO 07: HEMIS NATIONAL PARK After breakfast drive to Hemis National Park
En route stopping at Zingchan Village
Arrive and trek to your camp in Housing Valley
Overnight at the tented camp – 4 Single Tents
Average driving time approximately 1 hour
Average walking time 2 hours to reach Housing Valley.
After breakfast at your Leh Hotel, you are driven to Hemis National Park. After driving for about an hour from your hotel, you reach Zingchan Village, which consists of two – three houses. A bit further you reach the Zingchen entry point to Hemis National Park. This is where you leave your vehicles, your luggage is loaded onto ponies and you start your walk to the campsite in Housing Valley.
It is an approximately 2 hours’ walk to the campsite. The base camp, marked with Buddhist prayer flags, is a very simple set up- the best possible in the circumstances. This will be your base for the following days. You settle into your respective tents and meet again for lunch.
Later in the afternoon, you visit the area surrounding the camp, followed by a briefing by your guide. Housing Valley, is a very interesting area for the Snow Leopard, as the valley has good winter grazing, because of which you will find a good population of the Bharal- the most important constituent of the Snow Leopard’s diet. Apart from that, the valley gives a complete camouflage, to the Snow Leopard with its rocky, jagged mountainsides. Housing valley is strategically set in a way that a few other smaller valleys and ridges, that are also known to have snow leopard activity, can be accessed on foot. Besides good chances of wildlife viewing, Housing valley also has an ancient petroglyph site.
Over the next 5 days, we will explore the park taking in all the breathtaking scenery and wildlife. You may end up spending the entire day out sometimes walking or just sitting and scanning mountain sides for the snow leopards. Snow Leopards like most other cats are most active during early mornings and evenings. Your trip is during the time of the year when it starts warming up a little bit and is the onset of the peak mating season for the Snow Leopards!
The area you explore during your stay is a very small part of India’s largest National Park but, it is well studied for wildlife viewing. Hemis National Park covers an area of about 4400 sq. km. in this high altitude cold desert.
Depending on recent animal tracks, signs, recent sightings and their experience, your guides will take a call on whether you continue to stay at your camp for all 5 days or move to a home stay in Rumbak Village which is about a 2-hour walk to the southeast of the campsite in Houzing.
Rumbak is a small village in Hemis National Park which is originally a cattle herders village with traditional architecture. Though now most inhabitants are either farmer, pony/mules keepers or involved with tourism in Hemis NP. It is situated at a slightly higher altitude compared to the Housing Camp.
Snow Leopards can weigh up to 120lbs, are up to 5ft in length and can jump up to 50 feet in the air. They naturally predate on wild bharal (blue sheep) or ibex (mountain goat) however they have been known to kill domestic animals such as local farmers’ goat and sheep. They are able to kill and carry up to 3 times their body weight and are generally opportunist hunters.
They survive the bitter winters in the Himalayas due to their amazing thick and warm fur coats. Their feet are also covered in this insulating fur and as a result give them natural snow shoes! Snow leopards are essentially solitary animals. They are only found with others when they are with their cubs or in courtship with a mate. A typical litter from a snow leopard is between 2-3 cubs with gestation taking between 90-100 days and young staying with their mothers for about 20months.
Sadly, Snow leopards like most big cats are endangered. Over the years these beautiful creatures have been hunted by poachers for their fur and also for their organs. The fur has been used in the fashion industry and their organs sold to the Chinese on the belief that they contain healing powers. They are also killed by local hunters to protect their livestock. The numbers are now estimated to be at around 6000 left in the wild. In India alone, there are thought to be around just 200-600.
Although it is these magnificent felines that we are focused on looking for, there are lots of other interesting wild creatures to be seen in this region. The local mountain goat, known as the ibex is a stunning wooly creature that can weigh up to 200 pounds. Their color ranges from pale to dark brown and they have a darker dorsal stripe. The ibex has distinctive horns which curve backward and are bigger on the males. Another local mountain goat called the Urial- which prefers gentler mountain slopes compared to the ibex or the bharal. The Tibetan wolf varies in color depending on the season. The back and tail are usually black and white; the chest, belly, and inside of the legs are white; and ears are gray. Its legs are slightly shorter than the European wolf and it is one of the region’s most prolific hunters. There are also smaller interesting mammals like the wooly hare, mountain weasel, pikas and red fox.
Commonly seen birds include some magnificient species like the Himalayan Snow Cocks, Golden Eagle, Himalayan Griffon and Lammergeier.
Camping: Camping in Housing comprises of:
- Dome, extreme weather, double layered, 2 men-tents for each person
- Down sleeping bags up to -20C with foam mats & hot water bottles for sleeping
- A large common dining tent with a heater, dining table and chairs
- A kitchen tent
Pit toilets with concrete walls are made in the campsite for the campers’ use. Hot water for a wash will be provided every morning with a hot cup of bed tea or coffee. Spend five overnights at Tented Camp. Suite with ensuite facilities. Your stay is on Full board basis.
DAY 8: RUMBAK – ZINGCHAN – LEH
Early breakfast at the camp
Depart the camp and walk to Zingchan
Board your vehicle and drive to Leh
Overnight at the Saboo Hotel
Average walking time: 2.5-3 hours
Drive to Leh: 1 hour
Today an optional visit in search of the elusive cat before we depart. Our luggage is once again loaded onto ponies/mules and we walk to Zingchen. Vehicles will be waiting to pick you up and drive you to your hotel in Leh.
DAY 9: LEH – NEW DELHI
Depart for the airport to connect to your outbound private charter.