Snow Leopard Trek is located on the west bank of the Indus river, in the beautiful eastern Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir State, Hemis National Park is the biggest national park in India. This ‘high altitude’ park is named after the 400-year-old Hemis Gompa, which is a well-known Buddhist monastery situated 40 km southeast of Leh.
Established in 1981, the Hemis National Park’s most wondrous feature is the Snow Leopard. Known for its shy nature, the snow leopard is a dangerous yet majestic predator inhabiting the cold desert of Ladakh.
For those who wish to get the rare glimpse of this beautiful cat, the high altitude Hemis National Park is the place to be. An estimated 200 snow leopards inhabit the park.
Other mammals found in the park include Asiatic Ibex, shaped like Eurasian brown bears, and Tibetan wolves. The park is also home to Himalayan and Trans Himalayan predatory birds like Lammergeier vultures and Himalayan Griffon vultures. The trekkers are delighted with the sight of musk deer, wild ass, stone martens, marmots, red foxes, bharals, mouse hares, ibex and wolf.
The park is located in a high altitude desert comprising of rugged valleys, surrounded by peaks exceeding 5000m. The Stok Kangri peak is situated within the Hemis National Park. The climate here is quite extreme, with substantial fluctuations. Also, there are no motorable roads in the park. The park is a great place especially, for trekking from mid-November to mid-March.
As the ideal season to spot snow leopards is late winter, which is from November to March, as during this period the place receives high snowfall and as a result, the predator of the heights is forced to move to the lower regions. But for the rest of the year the snow leopards stay on the inaccessible heights.
|Mid-November to Mid-March
|13 to 18 degrees Celsius (Day) 0 degree Celsius (Night)
Where is the Snow Leopard Trek?
Snow Leopard Trek is situated in the eastern part of Ladakh with an average elevation of about 3000 meters. The trek covers an area of 600sq.kms in the valleys of Markha and Rumbak.
Best Time to Visit Snow Leopard Trek
The best time to visit the Snow Leopard Trek is between November and March. The winter in the Ladakh region is frigid in nature.
From January to March the days are likely to be a little warmer but there will be a chill in the air. January is the coldest month in Ladakh.
Read more: Hidden Hill Stations In India
By March the days start to get warmer and the average temperature remains at 6-7°C. Early mornings, evenings, and night times are extremely cold. Daytime temperatures in Leh, and on the trek, will be between –25°C to 6°C and night-time temperature can drop to -10°C to – 25°C. There is usually snow from January to March.
Snow Leopard Trek Highlights
How to Reach Snow Leopard Trek
The Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport is the main airport in Leh City. There are quite a number of flights that connect Leh with Delhi and with a few other major cities of India. You can opt for air travel and have a very unique experience of flying over the mountains
I would also recommend opting for road travel to reach Sham Valley. Also, if possible take your own vehicle or else you can rent a self-drive vehicle of your choice.
Also, it is better for you to hire a private taxi in Leh instead of hiring a shared taxi or depending solely upon public transport. This is because shared taxi and bus would not be the correct decision as there are multiple places to be covered and often you may not find a public transport going towards these remote villages.
Read more: Sham Valley Trek Ladakh
Now coming to the route, Leh is connected to the rest of India by two major highways: NH 1D (Srinagar-Leh Highway) and NH-3( Manali-Leh Highway). The Srinagar-Leh Highway passes through Kargil and Zoji-La whereas the Leh-Manali Highway passes through Rohtang Pass and Tanglang La. It also passes through the upland desert plateau of Rupshu whose altitude ranges from about 4,500 m to 5,500 m.
Things To Do In Hemis National Park
All you need is a Hemis National Park map and a heart willing to explore the region, and then you are set to experience something really magical!
Below are summarized things you can do on your trip to this wonderful park –
1. Visiting the Hemis Monastery, Ladakh
The famous Hemis Monastery existed much before the 11th century. Tourists come here only to fill themselves with amazement, looking at the age-old statue of the Lord Buddha. Also, there are gold and silver stupas inside the monastery and the air you breathe here smells divine.
Around a thousand monks live in this monastery. The Hemis Monastery is one of the wealthiest places in terms of cultural heritage. You can also check out the Hemis Museum shop if you want to buy some souvenirs.
2. Go For Birding at Hemis National Park
The Hemis National Park, Ladakh, is a paradise for people that take an interest in the leisure activity of birding. This protected national park is an abode to many species of birds.
3. Go For the Hemis National Park Safari
Call it a safari or a wild trail, but you have to cover it entirely on your own, using your able feet as no motor vehicles are allowed in the park premises.
This is an absolutely correct decision to leave the park pollution-free and make the animals feel at home. Hence, the Hemis National Park Safari is absolutely free from animal cruelty. However, there is a park jeep safari that will show you places around the park but not inside it.
Snow Leopard Trek Itinerary
Day 1: Delhi – Leh (Complete Rest for Acclimatization)
Take a flight from Delhi to Leh. I would suggest you take a morning flight. On arrival at Ladakh, take a taxi to reach the hotel. Take complete rest and sleep well.
Day 2: Leh (Visit the Local Markets )
Post breakfast, you can visit the local markets of Leh like the Tibetan market for clothes and the Moti market in the evening. Try to return early and take proper rest.
Day 3: Leh – Local Sightseeing Tour
Today, you shall visit the local attractions of the area. Some of these attractions are Leh Palace, Victory Peak, old quarters, and some offices of a local conservative organization. Overnight, stay at the hotel.
Day 4: Leh – Phey – Hemis National Park (12400 ft)
Try to wake up by 7 am, I know it is difficult to wake up so early when you are on a holiday. Yet, to make your vacation more special try to follow some tips. Then get fresh and eat a proper, light and healthy breakfast. Also remember to carry some biscuits, fruits, clothes, trekking boots, water bottles and napkins along with you
Post breakfast, you shall drive to Phey. You will begin your trekking today and shall walk from Phey along the spectacular gorges of Indus River to reach Hemis National Park. After reaching the park, you will set up your tents for an overnight stay.
Day 05: Hemis National Park (Wildlife Viewing)
Today, you will enjoy the wildlife watching in the famous Hemis National Park, which is also an abode to many other exotic fauna species like blue sheep, large horned sheep, Tibetan wolf, wild ass, etc.
Day 06-Day 11: Visit the Nearby Villages and enjoy a Home Stay
During these days, you shall be exploring the beautiful culture and traditions of Ladakh. Moreover, you will also enjoy home-stay in the villages nearby and try their local food and beer. Interestingly, you can also join the local dance to soak in to the real hues of local culture.
Day 12: Trek to Zingchen
Early in the morning today, you will have to trek down to Zingchen. From Zingchen, drive to Leh and check-in to the hotel. Enjoy your dinner and then overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 13: Back to Home
Now your trip is has still not got over. You still have to reach your home. So, reach the airport in time to catch the flight to Delhi and also, for those who have come by road, I wish you a safe journey ahead. Do not forget to capture some photos and videos while driving through the hills, forests and then the plains.
I know you must be feeling quite tired and also sad at the same time because your trip has now come to an end. But I hope you enjoyed your trip to Snow Leopard Trek. Till then, keep on trying new trekking activities. We will meet soon with a new trek!
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