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  • Matt Armstrong-Ford

The Ghost of the Himalayas

Armstrong Safaris Snow Leopard Expedition with Voygr Expeditions



Overview


On the roof of the world, in the greatest mountain range on earth, lives perhaps the most elusive big cat - the Snow Leopard.



The snow leopard is the ultimate mountain predator. Built to blend into treacherous terrain on the hunt for ibex and blue sheep, this ghost of the mountains is also the ultimate quarry for the wildlife lover.


This expedition takes you to Hemis National Park, in the Trans- Himalayas of Ladakh, India. Ladakh, a former Buddhist kingdom is a beautiful mix of amazing landscapes, isolated Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, and huge mountain passes. It is also ideal landscape for the snow leopard, Tibetan wolf, Eurasian lynx, ibex, blue sheep, Tibetan argali, and dozens of rare bird species like the golden eagle, lammergeier, and Tibetan partridge.



The snow leopard inspires immense emotion in travelers that get to witness one in the wild. Most guests are hard pressed to not shed a tear. It is a memory that lasts a life time. We’ve partnered with the regions best trackers and remote camps to bring you this expedition. Equipped with decades of experience, high-tech communications, and top-notch Swarovski scopes, our trackers and field team are the best for the task of finding a snow leopard. The field time also have a 100% success rate over the last 5 years. The expedition takes place in February, peak snow leopard viewing season. Winter snows at higher elevations force prey animals such as the blue sheep and ibex to lower elevations for grazing. Snow leopards follow these ungulates. This means that snow leopards are at much lower elevations and chances for sightings are much higher. The season also overlaps with mating time for snow leopards. Guests have previously witnessed mating snow leopards and have also seen and heard snow leopards call for each other- an incredibly rare occurrence for non-locals to experience.


There’s more to this expedition than just the snow leopard, we will visit a few incredible medieval Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and get a wonderful perspective on life in the high Himalayas.






Voygr's private snow leopard camp will be our base for the duration and is located in a remote valley that has very high snow leopard traffic. Our fantastic remote camp is accessible by road and is luxurious. Guests tents are designed for the wintry conditions with insulation, heating, and electricity. Access to the internet is also possible. We can access various valleys by road, but hiking may be required to access a sighting site if it is away from a road. Guests must be in decent shape for a high-altitude expedition and should be comfortable with a mix of driving and hiking.








Dates & Prices Feb 22 - March 7, 2022. Itinerary

Day 1. Arrival Arrive in New Delhi & spend the night at the Roseate House Hotel.

Day 2. Grand Dragon Hotel, Leh

Early morning flight to the mountain town of Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The 1 hour flight will take us across the Himalayas and into the Trans-Himalayas. The high altitude of Leh (3,000 meters) requires that the first day be one of complete rest, in order for the body to acclimatize to the altitude. Leh is an ancient city that lies on the old Silk Route that connected Asia with Europe and is teeming with history. We will stay at the Grand Dragon Hotel. A modern hotel with traditional Ladakhi designs, it is incredibly comfortable and well appointed. Rest day to acclimatize to the altitude.

Day 3. Around Leh



We will have an early start on this morning to visit the medieval Tibetan Buddhist monastery of Thiksey for prayers. It’s the best introduction to the ancient ways of life in this region and for the quest for one of the most elusive big cats on Earth. The monastery is controlled by HH The Dalai Lama and has great views of the Indus Valley. After the morning prayer visit, we will return to the Grand Dragon for breakfast. I would suggest a rest in the afternoon, since you will still be acclimatizing to the altitude. In the evening we can head out for a walk around Leh town and catch the beautiful sunset.


Day 4. Transfer to Camp


We’ll drive to camp, around an hour away, alongside the beautiful Indus River. Spotters and trackers will be working and will inform us about the dawn-tracking results before we depart from the hotel in Leh. This will allow us to decide if we’re headed straight into camp or to an active snow leopard site.

Day 5 to 12. In and around camp


We will be based in our private luxury camp. Spotters will split up to spot and track for snow leopards in abutting valleys through the day. We will base our movements on reports from spotters. If a snow leopard is seen, we will use a combination of driving and hiking to get to a vantage point. In the periods that we’re waiting, there will be time for birding, going on nature walks, and visiting local communities to learn more about conservation, local ways of life, and more about the storied region you’re in. Other animals we will actively track are Tibetan wolves, Eurasian Lynx, blue sheep, ibex, and Ladakhi urial. Snow leopards are solitary animals and looking for them in these vast mountains requires immense skill and experience. It also takes time. Your itinerary is designed for sighting one and so far, it has a 100% success rate.










Day 13. Leh

Return to the Grand Dragon in Leh. If you’re interested you can go shopping for souvenirs, fine local artifacts, or hand-knotted carpets in the town bazaar.



Day 14. Fly to Delhi

Stay overnight at the Roseate House hotel.

Day 15.


Fly home.



Cost


$8,761 Per Person

Maximum of 6 Guests Porter - if needed by guest to carry heavy equipment- $395 per guest. ——————————————— What’s Included All guiding, tracking, and expedition services. Accommodation at the Roseate House in Delhi, with breakfast.. Accommodation in the Grand Dragon Hotel in Leh with all meals. Accommodation in our spacious custom heated tents, full down sleeping bags/duvets, and full board while camping including open bar and snacks. All road journeys and airport transfers Domestic flights between New Delhi and Leh (roundtrip) Pre-trip advice and briefing Group medical kit and oxygen cylinders for emergencies. Access to a Gamow Bag for high-altitude emergencies.

Austrian and Swiss full down sleeping bags (Rated to -40oC) ——————————————— NOT INCLUDED International flights Visa for India Travel insurance (required). Personal expenses such as alcoholic drinks, beverages, gifts, calls, laundry not otherwise stated Gratuities Personal porter. A porter is only needed if you would like your heavy camera equipment carried. Many guests prefer to have a porter to make their lives easier at altitude and with carrying a large lens like a 600mm or 800mm.



To book your spot on this expedition email matt on matt@armstrongsafaris.com or call on +44 7738833281

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