seeing snow leopards

Hi all I’m pondering a snow leopard trip next year. If anyone has any recommendations about the best companies to use etc., I’d be grateful.

Also if anyone is interested in teaming up let me know. I’m a teacher and a trip would need to be over the dates: 28 March to 12 April next year or around the same time in 2016. I realise I’d probably need slightly more time than that; I’m planning to negotiate the possibility of a couple of days of unpaid, leave if a trip looks a possibility.




  • charleswhood

    I’ve been birding for 30 years now and doing mammals for a bit less, all the while working as a teacher. Your specificity of dates makes me wonder if you realize how small the chance would be for there to be a commercial tour that matches a UK or US academic calendar. Midterm breaks in the UK are tied (usually) to the overall term, while in US schools, some spring breaks are keyed off of the so-called Easter break, which means there will be a full moon during one’s week off. (I speak from sad experience.) If Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Vernal equinox — as I think is the correct formula — that’s bad news for mammal trips.

    Forgive me if you’ve already been through all of this.

    In any case, for snow leopards, I can recommend Zoothera, based on a very reliable friend who has done a lot of trips with them, their snow leopard trip included. (Yes, they did get them.) Be prepared to spend a lot of time at altitude, scanning with a spotting scope.

    I also have had some dealings with Indri, in South Africa, and know they usually run snow leopard trips. Late fall or late winter seem the most common times. I am using Zoothera for a Tibet trip in June (and forfeiting all of my summer income to do so, since I can’t do that and still teach summer school, effectively doubling the cost of the trip); I will post a report afterwards. It’s a birding trip but may turn up a few good twitches for the animal side of the list.

    I have done a lot of solo or two-person trips over the years rather than formal tours. This has cost me species I am sure, since I don’t know where to go always, but it’s also true, I could save a lot of money and that way I keyed things to my schedule, not theirs.

    The differences in US vs EU leave policies really shows up when you’re trying to work on an international list. I think even those US workers who do have leave time allocations (in my case, sick leave / personal necessity leave) are hesitant to cash in their days. Speaking broadly, I think most US companies think, “if we can do without you for two weeks, we can certainly do without you forever.”

    Charles Hood, Palmdale, California

  • stevebabbs

    Thanks for your reply. Yes I have thought of these things. I’ve been travelling for a very similar length of time. I usually avoid organised trips; they’re just not my thing. But I do realise that there is no other way I will see a snow leopard, a life time ambition.

    There are no trips coinciding with my school holidays but some companies will organise tailor made ones, if I can get together enough people (four people minimum, I think). So my first aim is to get together a list of recommended companies and a group of people who are interested and then sort the logistics from there. Either for next year or the year after.



  • Richard Webb

    Steve, don’t worry about the mainstream tour companies. Try instead. He runs Exotic Travel in Ladakh. i organised a two week trip, 10 nights in the park,through him in February for 6 people. The total cost from the UK including international and internal flights was less than £1600 only just over half the price of most tours run from the UK. I had to drop out as I was recuperating from surgery but they saw at least 6 leopards for extended periods using the best tracker Smanla. Your dates are slightly later so you will need to go higher in all probability but ask Phunhok what he thinks. He has organised at least four trips for friends of mine. Next year is likely be be more expensive as park fees are due to rise. Going later could have some advantages as long as you score. February trips have lost the wilderness factor as there were over 60 people there but despite this the spotters found all the leopards! He will even take one person although it will cost more. ! Hope this helps. Richard

  • stevebabbs

    Thanks Richard. Just what I was after. I’ve emailed him and I’m awaiting a reply. I’m still looking for other people who may be interested in joining me.

  • tomeslice

    If you need buddies for your snow-leoparding adventure, these dates seem to work perfectly with my passover break for 2015..
    I’m very interested to hear the details.
    Also at

  • Morten Jorgensen

    Hello Steve.

    I might be interested – put me on your list and keep me posted.

    Cheers, Morten,

  • stevebabbs

    Tomer and Morten thanks for your interest. I’ve had a reply from Punchock. His advice is that although the ‘chances are still there’ the optimal time is up to 20 March. So I’m pondering my options. I may wait until a year when Easter falls a little earlier. The cost is very reasonable. From 2100 USD p/p for 2 people to 1450 USD for 11.

    • Morten Jorgensen

      Hi Steve. I did think it would probably be a bit late. If I have not been in the meantime, the year after would certainly still be of interest – keep my email adr 🙂 Cheers, Morten

    • Andrea

      I too would be interested in joining such a trip and am in a similar situation regarding when I can get away. Easter works for me.

      I’d rather not leave my email address here (it’s also my work email), but I think I have another way of contacting Steve.


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