The sneaky Snow Leopard proves a rare sight to see. The cat prowls the Himalayan Mountains, lurking in the shadows of dawn and dusk. Thankfully, Norbu - an unparalleled expert in the ways of the cat - is prepared to take you through every valley surrounding beautiful Ullay, working with charming locals and utilizing his own talent for tracking to ensure you spot the sneaky Snow Leopard. Begin your journey in lovely Delhi before heading to picturesque Leh to begin the acclimatizing process in preparation for full Snow Leopard-based exploration of incredible Ullay.
Rise early and enjoy a delicious breakfast before taking a brief flight to lovely Leh, the capital of Ladakh in northern India. Once here, check in at the luxurious Hotel Grand Dragon or Stok Palace before gently acclimatizing yourself to the 11,400 ft elevation. The next 2.5 days are a mandatory acclimatization period while also providing time to familiarize yourself with the Snow Leopard and your mountainous surroundings.
After breakfast, attend a lesson at the incredibly Snow Leopard Conservancy for a brief history on the history of these majestic creatures in the area and the current threats. Then, enjoy a guided exploration of the picturesque Thiksey Monastery, being sure to take in the many unique and beautiful elements of Buddhism and Ladakh history this architectural wonderland offers. Stop by Leh's labyrinthian streets and quiant bazaars. Leh is very 'Tibetan' in culture, which is visible in the local dress, montasteries, large chortens, prayer flags and mud brick houses with flat roofs. After, return to your hotel for a night of refreshment and relaxation.
Today take a scenic drive east of the village to experience Ladakh's mountainous landscapes and remote villages. Indulge your senses in the extraordinary scenery this piece of paradise displays. Additionally, prepare your eyes for sightings of Golden Eagles, Blue Sheep, Bearded Vultures, and Red-Billed Choughs. Later, return to your hotel for a tranquil evening.
After breakfast, enjoy a stunning journey a few hours west to the village of Ullay which only has 7 houses and the prime area for Snow Leopard watching. Drive past many areas of both natural and architectural beauty, featuring rivers, mountains and monasteries. The expansive landscape narrows upon entering Ullay, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for nearby Ibex and Snow Leopards as the sun begins to set. Then, retire to your local accommodation, Snow Leopard Lodge, for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Take time to enjoy the morning, chatting with charming Ladakhi locals and guests alike, and tasting delicious cuisine prepared by the chef. Then, enjoy a slow-paced walk in this stunning village as you continue to acclimate to the ever-increasing elevation. Later, return to your homestay for a warm dinner and a quiet night.
Greet Norbu, your friendly and knowledgeable Snow Leopard guide. Listen as he speaks of his dedication and experience tracking these amazing animals. Ullay is not an overly populated town, and Norbu knows exactly which locals to speak with to receive the best Snow Leopard information. As night falls, enjoy a home-cooked meal before retiring to your room for the evening.
After a warm breakfast, join Norbu on an adventure into the first of three nearby Snow Leopard sighting valleys. Use a combination of SUV roads and foot to navigate this winter wonderland of wild potential. After an exciting day of mountain adventure, return to your host family for a delightful meal and intriguing conversation.
Enjoy a tasty breakfast before joining with Norbu to explore the second Snow Leopard sighting valley. While looking for the stunning Snow Leopard, keep your eyes peeled for Urial, Ibex, Wolf and Himalayan Fox. Then, return to the main village for a night of relaxation and refreshment.
After breakfast, greet Norbu and set off to journey through the third and final Snow Leopard sighting valley. While continuing along your adventure, you are sure to meet many locals, all of whom wish to help your quest. Listen to their stories, as they are full of intriguing lore and local mystery. As the day comes to an end, return to the village for a warm meal and a peaceful night.
Enjoy a slow-paced morning as you rise and partake in a wonderful breakfast prepared by your homestay chef. After, explore the charming village with Norbu and decide on the valley areas you would most like to revisit. Be sure to return to your homestay by dusk, as you stand an excellent chance of seeing incredible wildlife from your own front door. Then, enjoy a final night with your host family, reminiscing about your Ullay adventure.
After a final breakfast with your lovely host family, it is time to take the scenic drive back to Leh. En route, enjoy a guided exploration of Alchi monastery, where you will see incredible ancient architecture and learn tales of local history. After the day’s adventure is complete, retire to the enchanting Hotel Grand Dragon for the night.