Few places look as barren and inhospitable than the Trans-Himalayan highlands. Rolling plains mostly made up of rock and a few hardy grasses and steep rocky mountains and outcrops do not seem like the best place to find wildlife. But this ecosystem is teeming with animals, from the ghost-like snow leopard and Eurasian lynx to herd dwelling Tibetan wild asses, argali, Asiatic ibex and Ladakhi urail there is a raft a life here waiting to be seen. This tour is a specialist tour where some of the most elusive and specially adapted species of mammals and birds are searched for. So if you wish to be one of the few wildlife watchers to explore the vastness of Indias Himalayas and possibly see some of the rarest species in the world then this tour is for you.
Search Himalayan Mammals
Jeep safaris for (Kiang) Wild Ass
Travel to high-altitude nesting sites
Track Down the Elusive Snow Leopard
Expert Himalayan Wildlife Guides
Camp out on High-Altitude Plains
Asiatic Black Bear
Tour Dates: 13/7/2021 – 25/7/2021
Duration: 13 nights
Type / Focus: Himalayan Species
On arrival you will be met by your local driver and zoologist escort and driven to accommodation, level – 4* Boutique hotel (Mantra Amaltas). Then later in the afternoon you will be taken to the Sultanpur National Park. This is a pleasant national park close to Delhi; whilst here it may be possible to see a jungle cat as well as several species of birds including sarus cranes, black-necked stork and dozens of species of waders and waterfowl and maybe some raptor species before returning to your accommodation for your evening meal.
This morning after breakfast you will be taken to the domestic airport to catch the plane north to the state of Ladakh and the capital Leh (3,500m). Once you arrive in Leh you will be met by another local guide who will take you to your hotel. You will spend the next two nights here to begin to acclimatise to the altitude. In the evening you will have your welcome to the Himalayas meal at your accommodation, level – Category A (The Snow View Hotel) where your guide will brief you on the rest of the trip.
Today most of the morning will be kept free for further acclimatization with a walk up to Shanti Stupa located north of the main town and at an altitude of 4,267m. However this afternoon we will try and find some interesting Himalayan birds, there are very few mammals around Leh so until we get more remote we will see what the avian world has to offer. A short downhill walk in the Stok area should prove productive for species like red & yellow billed choughs, Eurasian tree sparrows, Himalyan chukars, common kestrels, citrine wagtails and white-capped water redstarts. We will also keep our eyes open for mammals such as woolly hares and Himalayan pikas. In the late afternoon we will return to the accommodation, level – Category A (The Snow View Hotel).
This morning after breakfast you will be transferred to Uley village (~2 hours). The drive will bring us through the villages of Likir and Hemis Sukpachang and then eventually to the tiny village of Uley. The Snow Leopard Conservancy have reported snow leopard sightings in every month of the year here and the chances are reasonable. For the next 3 full days we will have this elusive cat at the top of our list of animals to try and find. Started as soon as we have rested and grabbed some lunch. The village itself is made up of 4 or 5 houses and their families, the main livelihood being sheep, goat or yak farming and during our stay here your accommodation will be with these local people as they have opened their land to tourism and we will camp close to their houses and enjoy their hospitality. It is great to be welcomed into a small village such as this and hear of stories from people that live their lives in the presence of the ghost-like snow leopard.
For the next 3 full days we will explore the surrounding ridges and valleys around Uley. We will have an early breakfast and head out hiking to various good watch points before scanning the ridgelines for Asiatic ibex that are common around here as well as Ladakhi urail and possibly the snow leopard. In the skies the flocks of yellow-billed choughs and the most solitary red-billed choughs will swoop and show off and the huge silhouettes of golden eagles, lammergeyers and the odd Himalayan griffon vulture will keep us busy. We will most likely bring our lunch with us and eat in the field (to reduce the walking back and forth) before returning to the village for dinner in the evening.
This morning after breakfast, you will be taken back to Leh in our private vehicle (~2 hours). After a few days of camping and hiking through the mountains you will be thankful for a hot shower and after a rest you will be free to indulge is some shopping and check out the local restaurants in downtown Leh.
Early morning, driven to the check post at Karu and after a hot roadside breakfast and to drive to Tso Kar via Lato and Rumtse – this is a spectacular drive. Lato is where the Indian plate collided with the Eurasian plate about 55 million years ago and you can see the impact of the collision here. The steep crevices and the rock faces in brilliant hues of pink, green, purple, red and ochre show what occurred in stunning colours. Here along the riversides you will be stopping to look for brown dipper, fire-fronted serins, Eurasian crag martin, Northern house martin, hill pigeon as well as fly bys from Himalayan griffons. There are chances of sighting mammals around here like the mountain weasel, stone marten, blue sheep and few other mammals. We will carry on towards Rumtse and look for golden eagle on a well known nest here, then wait and see if we can get to see the long tailed marmots, there will be birds like lammergeier, osprey, golden eagle, Himalayan griffon and of course possibilities of Himalayan snowcock, Tibetan partridge etc as we move towards Tso Kar. Along the way there are lots of birds species that can be seen including large flocks of horned larks, Tibetan snow finches, robin, brown and black-throated accentor, Tibetan lark, Brandt mountain finch etc near the Tso Kar area. Some of the speciality bird species here include the black-necked crane, great crested grebe, black-necked grebe, common tern, white-winged tern, Tibetan sandgrouse, nesting bar-headed geese and ruddy shelducks, saker falcon, upland buzzard and little owls. Also around here we will try are best to see some of the Himalayan mammal species such as Tibetan wild ass, woolly hare, silvery mountain vole, Tibetan argali, Tibetan wolf (however the chances of wolves depends on the movements of the Nomads as they follow them) and dhole. There is a small population of Eurasian lynx in the area surrounding this place however they are very hard to see here. So we will keep a look out for this with our local guide. After exploring the area for its mammals and birds we will head back to the accommodation, level camping; for your evening meal.
Early this morning you can have a walk towards Starstapuk Tso, a fresh water lake nearby where we have camped the night before. Here you will check the edge of the lake carefully as Tibetan sandgrouse as they inhabit these areas. Mammals here include Tibetan argali, blue sheep and Tibetan gazelle, which we will scan the hillsides for. After breakfast we will drive to the Tso Moriri plains looking for red fox, Tibetan wolves, Himalayan marmot, Royles pika, Ladakh pika, woolly hare and Tibetan wild ass. Tso Moriri is the breeding ground of the bar headed geese and the ruddy shelduck, there are other birds like Humes short toed lark, Humes groundpecker, common raven, plain mountain finch, white rumped snowfinch and twite. On reaching Tso Moriri we will set up the accommodation, level – camping; and have our evening meal.
Today is kept as a spare day, either to spend around the Tso Kar area or can be the Tso Moriri area. This can be decided based on the weather conditions, sightings of crucial species and news from local guides about animal movements. There is also an area between Tso Moriri and Mahe which is Sumdo, Upper Sumdo, Chumathang as far as Yoye Tso. During the afternoon we will move to this area and set up the accommodation, level – camping; once again. By doing this we make the long drive back to Leh tomorrow shorter.
This morning you will start early and drive back to Leh, the drive is through some very interesting habitats and we will make birding stops at different places. Once back at Leh this afternoon, we will check into the accommodation, Category A (The Snow View Hotel) and then you are free for some retail therapy at the local markets. Before your evening meal and last night in the Himalayas.
This morning you will fly back to Delhi and after checking into the accommodation, level – 4* Boutique hotel (Mantra Amaltas). The rest of the afternoon will be kept free for you to relax or souvenir shop before your farewell meal in the evening.
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.
The weather in Ladakh during the summer is very pleasant. The temperature can up to 30 degrees C however during the day it is more likely to be around 20 degrees C. During the night the temperatures can drop close to freezing and also be aware that the sun can be very strong. Whilst during the summer it is incredibly rare the Himalayan weather can be unpredicatibility and snow and blizzards could occur, so you have to be prepared for that.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner). 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 and zoologist escorts (where available).
All our excursions including treks, guided walks monastery and park entrance fees are also included.
All camping equipment, porters, 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 should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as at least one warm outfit, such as a down jacket & 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.
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. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive). All camping and cooking gear is also provided as are necessary mules and porters and a camp cook. We will also bring camera traps which (subject to permit availability) we will try and use to get good wildlife shots and videos of hard to see wildlife.
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 souveniers 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 Finnair as a good airline for flights to Delhi. One of the best websites to search for the best fares is www.ticketstoindia.co.uk. They are an ATOL bonded company and this provide all the securities related to ATOL protection. 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.
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.
Michael & Alana, Brisbane
Dani, Kate & Ellie, Lincolshire