THE QUEST FOR THE SNOW LEOPARD
Unlike their Panthera cousins, snow leopards, except for a brief period when they
hunt with their female mates, are happy to be loners. Ranging across the steep rocky ledges and valleys of the Himalayas and
Altai Mountains in remote parts of Asia -- Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, India, Pakistan and Russia -- snow leopards benefit
from being adapted to 10,000 feet altitude and its serious cold. They are slightly smaller than other big cats; and they don't
roar or purr. Only a few predators exist for them, and they are all human: farmers and herders protecting their livestock,
and wily poachers hoping to capture them for their lush coats or kill them for trophies. Most tourists prefer visiting the
warm savannah or jungle to see jaguars, cheetahs, lions, leopards, and tigers.
The weather in the spring and the fall allows for easier travel,
and Mountain Travel Sobek has designed a 14-day adventure October 27 to November 9 in Himalaya India (the trip is offered
also in 2018 in March and October).
a cushy hotel in Delhi, fly to Ladakh where three valleys meet. Stay here for a night to get acclimated with a local family
at the small Snow Leopard Lodge (with hot water, flush toilets), before heading out by foot and SUV. Your guides have accompanied
the infinitely patient photographers from the "Planet Earth" series, and are skilled at sensing the presence of
the elusive cat.
At night, sleep in two-man tents (with the luxury of a hot water bottle), and enjoy meals cooked in the camp
by an MTS cook. It's wilderness camping and hiking, but you will always have a support vehicle. The chances of seeing snow leopard increase among
the grasses in the valleys where small game live -- goats, especially Markhor goats; argali sheep, unique to the area; Himalayan
foxes, hares, birds, and occasionally ibex.
Above, right: Photo © Bernard
Amazing camoflage among lichens! Photo © Tashi Lonchay, Wiki Images.