Natural Habitat Adventures

Snow Leopard Quest: A Photo Pro Expedition

A Himalayan Adventure in Pursuit of One of Earth’s Rarest and Most Beautiful Cats
12 Days
~7
From $12295 (+internal air)

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The snow leopard is a creature of legend in the alpine heights of the Indian Himalaya. Known locally as the “gray ghost,” they are rarely seen, since they are masters of camouflage and live on steep, rocky slopes. For wildlife photographers, this gorgeous cat is a coveted prize—and we travel with some of the best snow leopard trackers in the world in pursuit of images that few will ever have a chance to attain. Based at a small family-owned expedition lodge in a remote valley in Ladakh, we spend a full week in the snow leopard’s terrain, heading out each day in search of them. Other wildlife thrives in this austere landscape, too: keep your camera poised for shots of bharal, urial, argali and ibex—the wild mountain sheep and antelope that are the snow leopard’s prey—as well as Himalayan wolf, fox, and raptors soaring overhead, including the Himalayan golden eagle and lammergeyer, with its 10-foot wingspan.
    A snow leopard walks along a rocky ledge in Ladakh, IndiaTravelers use a scope to look for snow leopards in a snowy Ladakh, IndiaPrayer bowls of the Alchi Monastery in Alchi village in the Leh District, IndiaA man sits on a rock overlooking the Himalayan mountain range outside of Ladakh, IndiaBuddhist prayer flags hang in the snowy Himalayan mountainsTibetan prayer wheel at Alchi Monastery, Ladakh, IndiaA black and white image of a snow leopard perched on a rock in Ladakh, IndiaA Himalayan wolf climbs a hillside, Ladakh, IndiaA silhouette of a sitting snow leopard at dusk in Ladakh, IndiaA large Buddhist statue at Likir Monastery in Ladakh, IndiaSilhouette of a traveler photographing the Himalayan mountainsBearded vulture flies overhead in a blue sky in Ladakh, IndiaA snow leopard is camouflaged among the rocks of the Himalayas in Ladakh, IndiaThiksey Monastery in Ladakh, IndiaA blue sheep stops to survey the rocky Himalayan landscape in Ladakh, India

Trip Highlights

  • Best Chance to Photograph Wild Snow LeopardsWith top trackers and guides, pursue photos of snow leopards and other Himalayan wildlife such as bharal, urial, ibex and Himalayan wolves
  • A Full Week in the Snow Leopard's RealmOn this in-depth photography immersion, spend seven nights at a private mountain lodge in snow leopard territory, with en suite facilities—for our group alone
  • Explore Local Himalayan CultureLadakh's austere mountain landscape is steeped in Tibetan Buddhist culture: photograph villages, monasteries and passes adorned with prayer flags

The World's Best Opportunity for Snow Leopard Photography

Photographing snow leopards in the wild is one of the most exclusive travel quests on the planet—and no one can help you attain that goal like we can! Visiting high-altitude Ladakh in winter or spring is a daunting prospect on your own—so let us handle all the details. This is the photo expedition of a lifetime you need our expertise for!

  1. No Better Place to Seek Snow Leopard Photos
    Called the "gray ghost" by locals, a moniker that attests to its elusiveness, the snow leopard is a rare creature that has been virtually "unseeable" to many who go in search of it. But that is changing, as conservation becomes a priority in northern India. As the Snow Leopard Conservancy–India Trust continues to work with local villagers to protect these cats, sightings—and photo opportunities—are up.
  2. Top Spotters, Trackers and Guides Enhance Your Odds
    If you want the best chances to photograph elusive snow leopards and other Himalayan wildlife, you must have access to a superlative local team. Based at our private lodge in snow leopard territory, we spend seven days with the finest trackers and naturalists, including our professional photographer Expedition Leader who coordinates the entire effort. Adept spotters, who are the region's top local trackers, attempt to locate the cats each morning and stay in constant radio contact regarding their movement. We plan our days with utmost flexibility so we can follow the snow leopards' paths accordingly.
  3. Our Private Expedition Lodge Provides the Optimal Base
    Proximity to snow leopards and other Himalayan wildlife is the definitive luxury of this adventure, essential for maximizing photo opportunites. We have exclusive use of an environmentally conscious, family-run ecolodge—a simple, hospitable setting that provides every comfort, including private en suite facilities. Designed in the region's traditional architectural style, the lodge offers the optimum in setting, ambience, food and personal attention while directly benefiting local conservation efforts.
  4. A Small Group is Essential to Maximize Photography Opportunities
    With just seven photographers, our small group has a quiet, non-obtrusive presence, upping our chances of encountering snow leopards and other wildlife.
  5. Private Vehicles Ensure Maximum Flexibility
    We use private vehicles for maximum flexibility, allowing us to seek out snow leopards and other wildlife such as Tibetan wolves, urial, blue sheep, ibex and lammergeyers, wherever they are found.
  6. Local Porters Help Carry Your Gear
    We'll be covering some challenging mountain terrain as we hike in search of snow leopards, and it's easier to walk without being encumbered by heavy, bulky photography equipment. We've hired porters from the community to take the load off, hauling whatever you need them to carry until we are in range for photography.  
  7. Our Presence Directly Helps to Protect Snow Leopards
    Snow leopards are a vulnerable species under threat from habitat loss, climate, retaliatory killings, and poaching. Their range continues to decline from human settlement, while a warming climate could diminish up to 30% of their terrain in the Himalayas. Responsible tourism is part of the solution. As conservation travelers, the investment we make to photograph Ladakh's snow leopards benefits local communities. Our being there creates an incentive to protect wild creatures they share the land with. In addition, we will make a donation to the Snow Leopard Conservancy–India Trust for each photographer on this expedition.
  8. Travel with India’s Finest Wildlife Photography Guides
    Our India naturalist Expedition Leaders average more than 15 years' experience—with top-level training including resources from WWF scientists. And of course, your guide is also an accomplished professional photographer adept in capturing coveted images of snow leopards and other Himalayan wildlife—and by your side to share tips. You won’t find more knowledgeable, personable or enthusiastic guides than those who are proud to work for us. Our philosophy is simple: a nature adventure is only as good as the guide who leads it, so we provide the very best! See Expedition Leader bios with traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
  9. An Immersion in Ladakh's Rich Tibetan Buddhist Culture
    While Ladakh is part of India, it stands apart. Ladakh gained status as a separate union territory in 2019, and this Himalayan state is often referred to as "Little Tibet." As ethnic Tibetans whose cultural and spiritual traditions have been left alone to thrive in a remote mountain environment, their long and vibrant Buddhist history continues to influence everything from roadside prayer flag installations to well-maintained ancient monasteries where monks reside and practice. Absorb Ladakh's cultural sites in a quiet, non-touristy way, including our stay among yak-herding locals in the small Himalayan village of Mangyu.
  10. Our Quality-Value Guarantee Ensures Your Snow Leopard Photo Expedition
    With Natural Habitat Adventures, you receive our exclusive quality value guarantee that promises we will meet the high expectations we set forth in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
  11. Feel Good About Your Carbon-Neutral Journey
    We care deeply about our planet, as we know you do. When you travel with us, the carbon emissions from your trip are 100% offset—including your round-trip flights from home. Natural Habitat Adventures has been the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company since 2007.
  12. Natural Habitat Adventures is World Wildlife Fund's Travel Partner
    Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel, as well as the exceptional quality of our small-group nature adventures, World Wildlife Fund, the world's leading environmental conservation organization, has named Natural Habitat Adventures its worldwide travel partner—a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!

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