Asking for a friend: snow leopards in India

Hey everyone ,

a friend of mine and his partner are contemplating going to India for specifically snow leopards, and non-mammal activities for his partner (booo! 🤪)

Ever since we were there in 2014 we’ve seen reports through the years, of people who go to Hemis, see the snow leopards, then stop by Ulley valley for like 1-2 nights and see more snow leopards there, and then continue on.

My question is: why don’t people start with Ulley Valley then? Or even, skip Hemis entirely and only go to Ulley, if you see snow leopards there within a day or two? 😅

My friend has only a week for mammal watching so that’s why I was thinking out loud to see if we can maximize his time between snow leopards, Pallas’s cats, Tibetan foxes and allies 😊

Thanks in advance!

Tomer (aka Tomeslice)

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  • Jon Hall

    You should chat with our buddy Phunchok. He just wrote to tell me about a new tour he is doing with three days at Hanley (somewhere near Leh) for: Palla’s cat, Tibetan fox Tibetan wolf, Tibetan Argali, Tibetan Gazelle, Tibetan wild Ass. Then maybe tack on some Snow Leopard time after. He also mentioned various birds but I won’t bother you with that. Has your buddy promised to bring you back some delicious Ladakh whisky as a thank you?

  • tomeslice

    Thank you Jon, that’s a good idea!
    I chatted with him recently too, and will ask this question of him as well.

    He said if he sees a snow leopard based on my advice, he’ll bring me back down Ladakh whisky. Otherwise he’s bringing me back a stuffed butterfaced macaque. Otherwise

  • Lennartv

    I refer to the trip report Andreas posted here of our trip. It can be done in a week but it is very ambitious and you need to be quite lucky. Just to give some insight in the logistics: you need 2 days to acclimatize in Leh, it’s a whole day drive to Hanle for Pallas from Leh so 3 days is the very least you need in order to stand a chance. Pallas doesn’t seem to be particularly difficult though. So that’s 5 days not counting Snow Leopards. What your friend could do is just ‘twitch’ a Snow Leopard from Leh. We did the same. Communications are quite good these days so it is actually not strictly necessary anymore to go for a homestay. For a homestay you also would need an minimum of 3 days I think just to be able to enjoy it. In any case I have found the team on the ground is very flexibele so they might also be fine with changing the homestay location (if your friend decides to go for that) depending on sightings.

  • Yuval Tamir

    Thanks everyone, as the friend in question I have some follow-up questions –
    1. The time we have for the trip is end of September – beginning of October, are there any good snow leopard observations around this season? Might affect the choice of destination because our time is limited…
    2. Is there another recommended spot for mammal watching in India that has high success rate and would be good for 5-7 days? Mostly interested in carnivores – felines (fishing cat, caracal, marbled cat, clouded leopard🤞), mustelids, bears, red panda…
    Trying to maximize observations in the short time.
    Thanks everyone!

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