Spiti Snow Leopard Trip
A wildlife photographers dream. Go spotting rare himalayan species with our expert team of guides and spotters.
For those keen on wildlife photography, this trip offers a chance to track rare Himalayan species of birds and wildlife including the elusive Snow Leopard. Get to learn various tracking and spotting techniques from our local guides and spotters.
Join us in the search of a very elusive animal- Snow Leopard. This trip is a mix of culture, experience and wildlife. Our local wildlife experts, who have gained a lot of experience over the years tracking this beautiful animal, will try their best to help you do some good sightings and at the same time you shall get ample time to experience local living. Be prepared for the cold and long hours (and sometime days) of waiting for a sighting. It is worth the wait!
Narkanda, Rampur, Nako, Tabo, Dhankar, Kaza, Key, Khibber, Chicham, Langza, Hikkim, Komic
Best Time to Visit
January till March
Breakfast and Dinner
Local experienced driver
Spiti valley, also known as the “Middle Land” is a Trans-Himalayan terrain bordering with Tibet at an average altitude of 4000 meters. Spiti valley is home to some of the oldest monasteries in the Himalayan region like Tabo monastery, Dhankar monastery, Sherkhang monastery and Kye monastery, strong hold of Buchen Lamas in Pin Valley, famous for Tibetan medicine system and Amchis, fossils of Langza village, highest motorable villages and passes, scenic lakes, a 1000 year old culture, tough life, beautiful villages and people and out of this world landscape. Come and explore with us as we travel to a civilisation frozen in time. Spiti Fixed Departures have been planned in a way that you explore Spiti like a local and at a pace that helps you acclimatise and enjoy at the same time.
In Spiti Valley the two most popular locations where you can spot wildlife is inside the Khibber Wildlife Sanctuary and the Pin Valley National Park. We will be tracking wildlife in the Khibber Wildlife Sanctuary. Amongst all the wildlife in Spiti Valley, the Snow Leopard is the most elusive and its accurate population numbers are hard to come by. Although estimates range from 450 to 500 individuals for India making them even more unique. (Source: WWF – India)
While spotting a snow leopard is many a times a matter of sheer luck, while on the trail, you are sure to get a lot of insight into the life and habits of this marvellous creature. In the process you will also spot some great Himalayan treasures like the Blue Mountain Goat or Ibex, the Red Fox and some species of high altitude birds. A journey worth taking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
*It gets very cold in winter i.e. December through February with temperatures hitting – 30C. You will need to be mentally and physically fit and must have done some high altitude travel in order to be able to handle travelling through this high altitude terrain.
*All hotels and guest houses will be shut at the time and you will only get homestays which have dry eco friendly squatting toilets. You will need to be okay with this as wet toilets are not available due to water lines freezing.
*Because of the water lines freezing, the locals need to carry the water all the way in the freezing cold from a nearby water source and hence having a bath while you are in Spiti will not be possible.
*In peak winter i.e. January and early February all the places might not be open due to adverse weather conditions. We will keep you updated of the same in case any last minute changes need to be made to your plan.
*Winter time is off season in Spiti, and you will not have many options in terms of activities, and because of the cold, you won’t be able to move around as much and will end up spending time in the homestay. We recommend travellers to make the most of the situation, and turn their time at the homestay as getting to know more about Spitian life, food and culture from the locals.
*Because of winter, there will not be many options in terms of food and in a homestay you will need to be understanding and eat the hearty but basic food that your hosts provide.
*Be prepared to be understanding and flexible, as we can make last minute plan changes due to bad weather for your safety and wellbeing.
Day 1: Chandigarh to Rampur
Land in Chandigarh in the morning and head towards Rampur. Your guide will see you in Rampur but before you leave Chandigarh You can stop at a pharmacy and pick up and essential medicines and snacks that you might have forgotten to pack. As you leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind, enjoy the beauty and take appropriate breaks on the way. Lose yourself amidst scenic valleys on either side of the road. Reach Rampur and take it easy in the evening. Meet your guide and get to know your fellow travellers over dinner that night. Your winter adventure begins before the crack of dawn the next day.
Day 2: Rampur to Tabo via Nako
This morning since it is a long journey to Tabo you will be leaving around 4 am. The journey will take about 9-10 hours if everything goes as planned. Enjoy a nice, warm, early morning breakfast with a view of the mountains at Tapri. On your way you will notice the terrain change and you will see the end of tree line. See the confluence of Spiti and Sutlej river at Khab. We shall have a lunch break at the scenic Nako village- you can walk to the frozen lake here, only if permitted by the guide. Tonight you will get your first experience in a local Spitian homestay. You can gather around the local style tandoor in the evening with the rest of the group and interact with your host family over dinner. Take enough rest in the night.
Day 3: Tabo to Kaza via Dhankar
Take the morning easy, have your breakfast and visit the “Ajanta of Himalayas”- The Tabo Monastery which is close to a 1000 years old now. The murals, thankas and paintings are believed by the locals to have been made in a single night by the Gods themselves. On your way visit Dhankar Monastery, if the road is open – Dhankar used to be the Seat of the King in ancient times- the most beautiful setting for a monument which hangs on a cliff and overlooks the confluence of the Spiti and Pin rivers. Stay in Kaza for the night. Warm up by the tandoor and help out in the kitchen if you want to. A great way to bond with your host is by making and sharing a meal together. 🙂
Day 4: Snow drive to Langza, Hikkim, Komic and back
This morning we go on a snow drive towards Langza, Hikkim and Komic. On your way, we will make a couple of designated stops for you to take some pictures. Stay in Kaza for the night. Make the most of your homestay experience by learning about local life, festivals and traditions from your host family. Winters is a time when locals interact a lot with each other and many social activities take place
Day 5 till Day 10 : Kaza to Khibber/ Chicham via Key – Wildlife Excursion
Today we head to either Khiber/Chicham via Key depending on which area has seen the maximum amount of trails during the season. The snow leopard is a very shy animal and keeps changing its tracks basis where it’s prey is. We will know which village to visit before your trip commences and will keep you informed. Your stay will be arranged in any of these villages according to the sightings. For these two days, we will be tracking the snow leopard and other wildlife following their trail surrounding the villages. Tracking any wildlife, is all about patience, keeping as silent as possible so as to not spook the animal and a whole lot of luck! Be prepared to do a lot of waiting and sitting in the snow. On your way to Khibber/ Chicham, you will stop by Key monastery. Kye monastery is on top of a mountain overlooking the Spiti valley and the Spiti river. Key is also the centre of learning for monks belonging to the Gelug sect.
Day 11: Kaza/ Khibber to Rampur
We leave early morning today for Rampur and as it is a long journey, breakfast and lunch will be done along the way. Say your goodbyes to your wonderful hosts this morning.
Day 12: Rampur to Chandigarh
Leave early in the morning to catch your evening flight from Chandigarh back to your hometown and take back memories back of a isolated civilisation and trans Himalayan terrain. Trip ends here. 🙂
– Breakfast and Dinner at all stays
– Packed Lunch from Day 5 till Day 10
– Transport for 12 days as per the plan
– Stay at the list of hotels/homestays shared as per the plan
– Driver to act as a basic guide
– Local Guide + 2/3 spotters from Day 5 till Day 10
– All driver expenses, fuel and tolls are paid for
– 5% GST
– Lunch, snacks and beverages (except the ones with meals)
– Any kind of insurance
– Guide for any additional days
– Cost for porter
– Cost for a heater
– Cost of any emergency
– Flight/Train/Bus ticket cost Chandigarh/Shimla and back
– Monument Entry fee/Cost of permits