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Snow Leopard Expedition and Bird Watching Tour

Snow Leopard Expedition and Bird Watching Tour
When: Mon 2 Oct - Wed 18 Oct 2023
Leaders: Chris Doughty and Stanzin Gurmet
Snow Leopard Expedition and Bird Watching Tour
Delhi to Delhi (17 Days) $8,430
Single Room Supplement $890
Snow Leopard Expedition and Bird Watching Tour
Few animals have captured our imagination like the Snow Leopard. This most-elusive, of the big cats occurs in one of the harshest environments on Earth, in an area so remote and inaccessible, that they are hardly ever seen; and take on a supernatural quality; seemingly able to appear and vanish at will. They are widely but thinly distributed throughout the mountainous regions of central Asia. In the winter months, they descend to as low as 1,800 metres, often venturing close to villages, where they take domestic livestock. The Snow Leopard shares these stark and snowy wastes with the stunning Eurasian Lynx and the equally impressive Tibetan Wolf, all of which, we have a very realistic chance of observing. Although the Snow Leopard is ostensibly a protected species, the few thousand Snow Leopards that remain are still hunted, not only for their pelts but also for bones and body parts, which are used in traditional Chinese medicine. This, together with depletion of its natural prey, habitat degradation and reprisal attacks by herdsmen for loss of livestock, means the Snow Leopard is facing an increasingly uncertain future. For the very first time; village home-stay accommodation is now available throughout the entire tour, eliminating any need for camping. By staying in local home-stays, we are also adding valuable income to the local communities and contributing directly to Snow Leopard conservation. We will explore a number of secluded valleys in both Hemis National Park and areas around Ullay, in the high altitude deserts of Ladakh, where healthy populations of this beautiful cat still survive. Life here is harsh for humans and animals alike, but the development of community-based eco-tourism is now offering new employment opportunities for local people, which also greatly increases our chances of observing a Snow Leopard, as we will make use of expert local trackers who work for the Snow Leopard Conservancy, tracking and carrying out population counts on Snow Leopards. They will guide us to known haunts and recent kill sites, and help us follow other signs of Snow Leopard activity. Their years of experience and local knowledge will provide us with an extraordinarily high chance of observing a wild Snow Leopard in the majestic snow-clad mountains of the high Himalayas. We also have a very good chance of observing other unusual and range-restricted mammals such as Altai Mountain Weasel, Himalayan Marmot, Woolly Hare, Large-eared Pika and Kiang. We will also find a good number of species of birds that are typical inhabitants of the trans-Himalayan desert region of Ladakh, which are uncommon or difficult to observe, elsewhere in the world. These include species such as Himalayan and Bearded Vultures, Himalayan Snowcock, Tibetan Partridge, Black-necked Crane, Ibisbill, Tibetan Sandgrouse, Hume's Whitethroat, the stunning White-winged Redstart and the little-known Blanford's Snowfinch. Come with us and enjoy this fabulous Snow Leopard Expedition and Bird Watching Tour.
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