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Snow Leopards & Tigers Indian Tour
February 2 - February 28£1863 – £6722
There are two big cats in India that are among the most loved and sought after species in the world; one has become synomous with Indian safaris and is the major draw for millions of people to India’s national parks annually, the second is most elusive and little known. In fact up until recently the animal eluded all but very few goat and yak herders up in the mountains. Today it is possible to combine a trip to India to see both of these big cats as well as much more. They are of course the iconic and wonderfully striped tiger and the elusive grey ghost of the Himalayas, the snow leopard. This tour explores the habitats of both of these cats and has a 100% success rate in seeing both of these targets.
Top Animals on Tour
Tour Dates: 2/02/2022 – 28/02/2022
Duration: 26 nights
Type / Focus: Snow Leopards & Tigers
On arrival at Delhi International Airport you will meet your local driver. You will then be transferred to your accommodation in a private vehicle. You will be able to arrange with your Delhi based guide about the time you will be picked up tomorrow for your flight to Leh. It will be early in the morning so we suggest spending the day relaxing and getting your warm clothes ready for tomorrow as it will be cold when you arrive in Leh tomorrow.
This morning you will leave the hotel and be transferred to the airport to catch the morning flight north to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Once in Leh you will be met by another local guide who will transfer you to your accommodation for your first taste of life in the North West of India. Your hotel has views out over Leh and the Himalayas. The time spent in Leh before hand is very important as it give your body time to get used to the increased altitude and lower oxygen levels before the trek begins. You will have the afternoon to relax and explore if you wish and during the evening you will meet your naturalist guide for the trek. He will give you a full briefing on the trek followed by a true welcome to Ladakh dinner in the hotel. The hotel is located only a few minutes walk away from the local market, bank and post office. The food here is also very good as the hotel grows the majority of its ingredients on site in its own vegetable garden.
These are your two full acclimitisation days around the city of Leh. During these couple of days you will explore the city and the market which is a great melting pot for Leh and as far as introductions to the Buddhist way of life there are few better. You are free to explore and barter and enjoy the sites, smells and sounds of this market place. There are some true characters here and for the photographer in you some great shots of the hardy Ladahki people. During the winter the market offers just about the only ready source of food and supplies as most roads are closed. During the afternoon you are free to choose a place for lunch and continue souvenir shopping afterwards. During the guided walking tour of this incredible Himalayan town you will visit Leh Palace. The palace overlooks the town in imposing fashion. Based on the iconic Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet it is one of the most impressive buildings in all of India. Over 200 years old the nine storey high is currently being restored; the roof offer superb views of the Stok Kangri and Zangskar mountain ranges. After the palace you will be taken to Victory Tower; here towering above the palace is a tower built to celebrate the victory of Ladahki soldiers over Balti Kashmiris in the 16th Century. You will also be taken on a birding trip around Shey marshes and the Indus valley where species such as ibisbill and solitary sandpipers can be seen. You will return to the accommodation for your evening meals on both of these days.
Hemis National Park
This morning after breakfast you will be collected from the hotel and taken towards Hemis National Park. The first part of the journey is driving along the Indus River Gorge. This is a dramatic entry to the park and one which will introduce you to the kind of terrain we have to scan for snow leopards. When you arrive at the end of the road your camping team including your local naturalist, a camp cook and his assistant, between 6-7 porters and or 3-4 mules will be together to make the final hike into the campsite. During the 2-3 hour walk into the campsite you should keep an eye out for wildlife, including snow leopards as you are well and truly in the kingdom of the snow leopard now. Once you arrive in the campsite you and your spotter will go and start scanning for snow leopards whilst the camp is established, and then returning to the campsite for your evening meal and your first night camping.
Hemis National Park
During the next 8 full days you will be in the company of your snow leopard spotter and spend the days scanning the hills and horizons for the elusive grey ghost. There are several main spotting locations in the park and your local guide will decide where to base yourself on a day to day basis. This will be based on recent sightings, speaking to other guides and other local conditions and considerations.
Snow leopards are of course very difficult to find and see but here in Hemis and particularly the Rumbak catchment area during winter they are seen with some regularity. This is mainly down to the incredible work in local community conservation programmes to promote the plight of the snow leopard. Their local knowledge is exceptional and you will soon realise what an integral part of tracking snow leopards the local Ladakhi people are.
Hemis National Park – Leh
This is your last day of snow leopard tracking and the last day we could see a snow leopard. After breakfast or lunch (depending on the local conditions and if you would like to spend as much time as possible in the park) this you will begin the trek to Zinghcan. Depending on how much progress we make sure the trek we will probably have lunch when we arrive in Zingchan. We will bid farewell to the local guide, cook, camp assistant and porters in Zingchan, before we load up into the private vehicles and are transferred back to Leh. Your accommodation will be the same hotel as your previous nights in Leh and the hot showers, soft beds and refreshing beers are usually the first things people go for on arrival! You will have your evening meal in the hotel as we recap over the trek, share pictures and memories before heading back south to the hustle and bustle of Delhi tomorrow.
After an early breakfast this morning you will be transferred by private vehicle to the airport in time to catch the flight back to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi you will be met by your Delhi guide and transferred in another private vehicle to your accommodation. You will be staying in the same hotel as the previous night in Delhi and the rest of the day is for you to do as you please. The rest of the day will be free at your leisure.
This day is a buffer day as the weather when flying back from Ladakh can be unpredictable and sometimes we need an extra day planned in, in case the flight on day 5 is cancelled and you have an extra day in Leh. So assuming you flew into Delhi yesterday this day will be reserved for a full day city tour of Delhi. Visiting locatons such as Red Fort (ancient Mughal empire palace), Jama Masjid (one of the largest mosques in the world with a capacity for 20,000 worshipers), Chandi chowk (a taste of India in one of the largest wholesale market places), Jantar Mantar (ancient astrological observatory), Raj Ghat (the cremation spot of the great mahatma Ghandi), Feroz Shah Kokla Fort (ancient Mughal fort), Rashtrapti Bhawan (colonial palace), India Gate (memorial in the style of the Arch d’Triumph for 70,000 Indian soldiers lost in World War I), Humayun’s Tomb (tomb in the Mughal style for the emperor Humayan), Qutb Minar (Muslim monument) and the Lotus Temple (spectacular modern temple to celebrate all religions). These are some incredible buildings and the history of the city is clear for all to see as you tour around with the help of an expert guide.
This morning you will leave the hotel in Delhi and travel to Khajuraho in a short internal flight. Once we arrive in this historical city you will be transferred to the hotel. This afternoon you will have a guided tour of what makes Khajuraho so famous; its magnificent temples. These sandstone temples were built between 950 and 1050 A.D and have survived remarkably well. As well as the temples the city is also famous for many Khajur trees (the date palm tree), which can be found in abundance in the local area. It is this tree that gives the city its name; but despite these trees it really is the divine sculptures in these temples which steal the show. These are a tribute to Life itself, embodying everything that is sublime and spontaneous about it. The murals depict the life and times of the Chandelas, and celebrate the erotic and warring states of being. They not only testify to the mastery of the craftsman, but also to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandela Rajputs under whose reign, these temples were constructed. There are far too many temples to see in a week, never mind an afternoon of sightseeing but we will have a good chance to see some of the most impressive and well preserved ones. Your local guide here will show you the history of the place as well as introducing you to some of the more intricate and amazing carvings that can easily be overlooked as the walls seem to be covered from top to bottom with incredible artwork. After this you will be taken back to the hotel for the night.
Bandhavgarh National Park
This morning after breakfast you will begin your journey to Bandhavgarh National Park. The drive can take 5-6 hours and as we drive along a surprising amount of bird life can be seen along the way. It is worth keeping your eyes peeled as you may catch a glimpse of the ungainly nilgai (an Indian antelope), this large mammal can sometimes be seen wandering through the cultivated land as well as vultures, kites, falcons, rollers, kingfishers and monkeys. On arrival the accommodation you will check in and spend the afternoon relaxing around the lodge grounds and then in the evening we recommend a good nights sleep as it will be an early start and get your cameras charged and ready.
Bandhavgarh National Park
The next 7 days will follow the same patterns as you explore the park in search of the ‘striped gentleman’. Each morning you will rise early and after some tea or coffee you will be taken to the park’s entrance gate and be designated a local guide to work in conjunction with your professional safari driver. As you drive through this rich park you will notice that sal forest predominates in Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve, giving way to tracts of mixed forest at higher elevations in the hills. To the north there are expanses of grassland and bamboo. The core of the Tiger Reserve is hilly, and is dominated by a long-deserted ancient fort, which rises 800m above the forest and sits at the top of an impressive plateau. It’s a steep climb through dense vegetation to the top, but the rewards are breathtaking views from the ramparts, as well as ancient rock carvings among the ruins. We will not be visiting this area (unless requested) as the chances of seeing tigers here is far lower than other areas of the park. In a region as arid as this the presence of water attracts wildlife. Luckily, the Tiger Reserve contains pools and streams, which ensure that it is frequented by both game and predators. We will explore the Tiger Reserve mainly by following a network of jeep tracks that will lead us into the forested areas. The movements of the resident tigers are well known to the guides and we will rely on their intimate knowledge of the terrain to locate them. They are elusive creatures and quick to vanish into cover, but a huge paw print in the dust or the alarm cries of deer or langurs often betray the presence of an animal. At moments like this it is essential that we are, as a group, both silent and patient. Our reward for this will, hopefully be an unforgettable moment. When the king of the forest saunters into view with scarcely a glance at the human intruders, then walks in a deliberate manner across the track only to disappear again into the undergrowth, it is one of the most thrilling wildlife spectacles in the world.
As well as making early morning and afternoon excursions you will also have periods of relaxation back at your lodge, which are especially welcome during the midday heat. Although tigers are the star attraction at Bandhavgarh, there is an impressive supporting cast of mammals and birds, the latter including species such as grey-headed fish-eagle, plum-headed parakeet, Malabar pied hornbill, greater racket-tailed drongo and Asian paradise flycatcher; over 250 species have been recorded in the Reserve. Tour members with an interest in ornithology will value the time between game drives as an opportunity to explore some of the habitats close to our base.
There is no shortage of prey in the Reserve for both the tigers and less frequently seen leopards. The spotted deer, or Chital, is a favourite item on the tiger menu and many thousand of these delightful deer inhabit the Reserve. Other species found here in varying abundance include chinkara, chousingha, wild boar, sambar, muntjac and nilgai. There used to be herds of Asian bison, or gaur, in the Reserve. However, no gaur have been seen at Bandhavgarh since 1998, well that was until very recently, when two herds were relocated from Kanha National Park and are doing well back in Bandhavgarh. A pack of Indian wild dogs, or dhole, are seen only occasionally when they travel through the park but are always possible. Mammal sightings always require a degree of luck, particularly when a species is essentially nocturnal or reclusive, but each outing in the Reserve provides a chance to meet one of its rarer inhabitants such as sloth bear, Indian fox, golden jackal, wolf, honey badger, striped hyena, jungle cat or Indian pangolin. Wild boar are frequently heard as they root among the vegetation.
Other animals present in larger numbers in the Reserve include several species of mongoose, Rhesus macaque, Indian hare and the delightful palm squirrel – lively little animals that seem to be in a constant state of agitation. Southern plains grey langurs are also plentiful, sitting with an elevated view of the forest as they devour their favourite leaves. This gives them an excellent vantage point for spotting predators and they are often the first creatures to bark out warning of a tiger below. We are never short of wildlife to watch in this gem of a reserve and our stay here will doubtless provide many unforgettable encounters with the creatures that flourish within the protection of the Bandhavgarh Tiger Reserve
This morning you will leave the national park and travel back to Delhi, you will travel by vehicle to Khajuraho and then catch the afternoon flight back to the capital. On return to Delhi you will then be taken to your hotel for the night by your local driver.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
This tour visits two distinct locations which will have very different weather conditions. Firstly the weather in Hemis National Park during winter is very cold. The temperature can vary from -20 degrees C to 15 degrees C and the sun can be very strong. There is always the threat of snow and blizzards, so you have to be prepared for; well Himalayan winter weather!
From here it is warmer Bandhavgarh National Park. In general we do not expect any rain at this time of year, but hot sunny days and cool chilly mornings.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), where mentioned in the itinerary. Note that some meals when in cities are not included. There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day (not during the trek). We have our own private air conditioned vehicle with an excellent local driver. We have brilliant local guides, snow leopard expert and zoologist escorts (where available).
All our excursions including safari drives, treks, guided walks and park entrance fees are also included.
All camping equipment when in Ladakh are included as are fees for porters, mules and cook are included in the cost as well.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or scope as well as appropriate clothing (which needs to both cater for the very cold Himalayan part and the dry and hot Gujurat part of the trip); which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as very warm winter clothes, such as down jackets & trousers, walking socks, gloves, hats, scarfs, fleeces etc. Broken in and comfortable walking boots are essential. Sleeping bags are also needed. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera. Also do not forget sun cream, sun hat and sun glasses as the sun can be strong here during the day. All your gear should be in one bag and that bag should not weigh more than 15kg (if you intend for the porter to carry your bag), it is a good idea to have important and personal belongings in one smaller rucksack that you will carry yourself, as the porters may walk ahead or behind and so getting things from your large bag maybe more difficult to get out whilst on the move.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. We have also provided night vision goggles which can record, so you can monitor the area after dark, as well as camera traps which will be set up around the hide for your trip and any pictures / videos taken with these will be free for you to have and use.
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any departure taxes applicable when leaving are not included (but may be included in the cost of your flights), Please check this before hand. Due to new permitting regulations in Hemis National Park there is the optional extra for the use of camera traps to try and capture hard to see wildlife in the dead of night.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend KLM, Air France, Air India or British Airways as a good airlines for flights to Delhi. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for India. These are only obtainable in advance from your local embassy. The easiest way to find information is by visiting http://in.vfsglobal.co.uk/ (be aware that this link leaves our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for information on the site).
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit India, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A as well as taking a form of malaria prophylactics. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting India as soon as you have decided on this trip.
There is a risk of altitude sickness during this trek. This can affect everyone and anyone and has no bearing on physical fitness, even if you have not suffered before you may now and if you have suffered in the past you may not on this trip. We take all precautions including many acclimatisation days so please speak to your GP to get more information.
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