On the Trail of the Great Cats

Overview

Join us for an extraordinary wildlife expedition on the trail of the near-mythical snow leopards of the Himalayas and the Bengal tigers in legendary Kanha and Pench national parks! We’ll seek the elusive snow leopard in the high Himalayas of Ladakh, where soaring peaks glitter with snow and prayer flags flutter from whitewashed monasteries. Ladakh is a magical place—and the best on the planet to see a snow leopard in the wild. We’ve timed our visit for the winter months, when leopards come down from the snowy heights to follow their main prey, ibex and blue sheep. (Sightings of snow leopard have been excellent from November to March and are not dependent on snow conditions in the mountains). We’ll be based in the remote village of Ulley (13,000'), where a comfortable mountain lodge will welcome us (no camping!). Each day, our expert naturalist and local trackers, who know all the haunts of the “gray ghost,” will get us to the ideal locations to spot these rare creatures. We’ll also be on the lookout for other wildlife including Tibetan wolf, red fox, and Himalayan griffon vulture. A dramatic change of scene finds us in the subtropical world of Kanha National Park, India’s great tiger reserve, where prime teak forests are home to royal Bengal tigers. Spotting one of these magnificent predators is a true privilege, and the park is also home to a rich array of other Indian wildlife. From our award-winning lodge, we have exclusive access at the remote north gate of the park. With fewer travelers around, it means we’ll have a chance for more tiger sightings as well as leopards and Indian wild dog! We invite you on the ultimate experience of the great cats of India!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-3
Delhi / Leh

Fly to Leh (11,500'), Ladakh’s capital, once a stop for trading caravans on the Silk Road across Central Asia. Ladakh is a remote enclave of Tibetan Buddhism with a spectacular setting. We’ll explore Leh’s Old Quarter and visit the Leh Palace at sunset for vistas across the valley.

Holiday Inn New Delhi
New Delhi, India
Day 1 (1 night), Day 16
Grand Dragon Ladakh
Leh, India
Days 2 to 3 (2 nights), Day 10 (1 night)
Days 4-10
Ulley / Snow Leopard Tracking

In the remote village of Ulley (13,000'), with its prayer flags and yak corrals, our community-owned lodge puts us in the perfect place to track snow leopard in three valleys renowned for sightings. We track first by vehicle, which allows us to cover a lot of ground each day and gets us to the prime viewing spots, and then set out on foot. Keeping an eye out for ibex, wolf, and soaring griffon vultures in this spectacular landscape, we follow our trackers to high points for the best viewing opportunities. Our trip directly supports local community and conservation efforts that are critical for the survival of the magnificent snow leopard. Overnight in Leh on Day 10.

Snow Leopard Lodge
Ulley, India
Days 4 to 8 (5 nights)
Grand Dragon Ladakh
Leh, India
Day 10 (1 night)
Days 11-16
Kanha National Park / In Search of Tigers

Kanha National Park’s lush meadows and sal forests are ideal habitat for tigers and their prey. We explore by 4WD vehicle, enjoy village visits, and have a cooking demonstration at our award-winning lodge. Depart on Day 16 via Delhi, or join our Pench National Park Extension for game viewing from an atmospheric lodge in the park’s game-rich northern reaches, haunt of leopard and wild dog.

Days 16-19
Pench National Park Extension
If Kanha is known for its tigers, Pench will complete the experience with leopards (as well as tigers), jungle cat, dhole (Indian wild dog), sloth bear, wild boar, mongoose, and gaur (Indian bison). Our award-winning accommodation, Jamtara, named on Conde Nast Traveler’s Hot List, is an experience in itself. Depart on Day 19.

Video by WT Adventurer Karen Perry

“The trackers were out early every morning searching for leopards in the three surrounding valleys. For four days we were rewarded with gorgeous views of the Himalayas, but no sightings of the elusive snow leopard. In the late evening of the next to last day our guide and trackers spotted Gyamo, a female leopard with her two cubs, and we quickly got into our vehicles to head down the mountain and get as close of a look as possible. The next day we had an even better experience as the guide and trackers spotted the same three leopards and we got to watch the cubs playing in the deep snow on the high ridge directly across from the lodge! ...a dream come true! ”
—Karen Perry (www.karenperryimages.com)

Highlights

Highlights

Track snow leopard in the high Himalaya, experience Ladakh’s breathtaking landscapes
Support a community-based wildlife conservation project
Search for Royal Bengal tigers inrenowned Kanha National Park
Extend your adventure with exclusive access to Pench National Park, known for tiger, leopard, and dhole (Indian wild dog)

Details

Length: 16 days
Cost From: $8395  
Arrive: Delhi, India
Depart: Delhi, India
Lodging: 4 nights mountain lodge, 6 nights jungle lodge, 5 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Wildlife & Natural History, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level:

Rugged road travel with occasional light hikes, altitudes between 11,000-14,000 feet, wildlife viewing by vehicle