Snow leopard trip in Ladakh

For 5 weeks, in February and March 2024, I went to Ladakh with the hope of observing the animals that inhabit the Himalayas.

I then contacted Exotic Ladakh agency ( based in the city of Leh, whose director is Phunchok Tsering.
This time has been truly amazing. The Exotic Ladakh agency, which already has an excellent reputation, made my dream becoming reality !
I had an exceptional guide named Sonam Stanzin (a real local star). He saw absolutely everything.

To put it simply, I observed 22 snow leopards during my stay! I have seen them hunting, copulating, calling to each other, jumping, runing, etc. I even saw a mother accompanied by her 2 youngs. I saw about 80 Tibetan wolves in total, especially in the Hanley area where they are very numerous. I also observed Pallas’s cats, Tibetan foxes, blue sheeps, ibex, urials, wild donkeys and an impressive number of birds.

The 10th of February, it started with a couple of snow leopards who copulated 10 times during the 3 following days !

So the 11th and the 12th, we watched them all day long ! We also saw a bearded vulture eating a dead blue sheep. And on the way for going there, we saw also a herd of urials.

The 13th of February, has been very intense too with 3 snow leopards seens during the day. The first walking on a slope not far during several minutes then Phunchok saw a new couple along a trail. The femelle diseappered quickly but the male stayed and called her for a while.

We can see the seen in the following video :

The 14th, it continued as we saw a femelle with her 2 youngs. We also watched during this day a red fox, a golden eagle, some snow cocks, fire fronted finches and lots of blue sheeps.

The 15th, we saw our first wolves crossing the valley. We didn’t see snow leopard that day but we saw a lynx !

The 16th we mainly saw birds : horned larks, serins, himalayan vulture, etc. But no mammals.

The 17th we saw again the red fox and the wooly hare as the new species of the day. Again golden eagle.

The 18th, we went for a walk and we saw the himalayan vulture, many blue sheeps and then, the snow started to fall.

The 19th, we woke up surrounded by 30 cm of snow. It was hard to see as the snow was still falling. The visibility was very bad (About 200 meters away only). We didn’t see much this day. But Sonam, our guide said that the snow will push the animals to go down in the valley for finding food.

The 20th, another snow leopard is watch ! He is walking along the slope in the snow. We watch him during several hours as he just lay down.

The 21st the same leopard as yesterday appears again at the same place. Later, another sight of wolf, alone this time. Then 2 other not far from us (about 400 meters away), Then we see the femelle snow leopard with her 2 youngs ! They stay all the day and the evening, they stand up and start to walk until the night !

The 22nd we see again a snow leopard ! He tries to catch a snow cock but fail ! We also see himalayan vultures again.

The 23rd we see 5 wolves, 1 bearded vulture, many blue sheeps, a golden eagle, 4 ravens fighting together and many other birds like magpies, robin accentors, etc.

The 24th we move to another guesthouse 80 km toward north west. When we arrive, we see a wolf getting close to the hamlet as the night comes.

The 25th incredible day. Our guide spots quickly 2 subadults snow leopards. We follow them all the day until they see an injuried ibex. They suddenly attack him, but the ibex is still strong and doesnt give up. After half an hour of fight, the 2 leopards decide to move away. The ibex survived !

The 26th, the ibex died during the night. Nearby his carcass, we see a red fox with many magpies. Then later, 1 Tibetan wolf appears but stay at 200 meters from the ibex.

The 27th, we see again 2 snow leopards walking along a slope. We go back to the ibex carcass and see 3 wolves nearby. We also see lots of birds : snowfinches, horned larks, golden eagles, etc.

The 28th we see a group of 15 ibex, a red fox and many birds.

The 29th, we see 2 golden eagles calling from their nest, 1 wolf then 2 hours later, 2 others.

The 1st of march, we move to the town of Leh. On the way, we see again the golden eagles. Then we take a break before the last place to visit tomorrow.

The 2nd of march, we move about 200 km to the south. When we arrive, we see a pack of 7 wolves very nearby us ! Every day, we will see the wild ass here.

The 03rd of march, we see 9 wolves, then 1 red fox, 1 wooly hare, and 6 other wolveslater.

The 04th of march 9 wolves again, our first Tibetan fox who was hunting mices, then a red fox, then 2 more wolves, plus 2 great eagle owls copulating the evening !

The 05 of march we see again the Tibetan fox for about 1 hour. We try to go to see the tibetan gazelle but we can’t because there is too much snow, so the car can’t climb the mountain trail. When we come back, we see 2 Tibetan fox this time ! Then again the pack of 9 wolves and the great eagle owl the evening.

The 6th of march we finally see the Pallas cat ! All the day nearby us (less than 100 meters away !) At a moment he fights against a Tibetan fox. This is incredible to see ! We also see many rare and more common birds around us.

The 07th of march, 1 Tibetan fox, then 1 red fox, then 1 more Tibetan fox, 1 wolf alone eating an old skin, then again 1 sand fox, then 4 wolves passing nearby us.

The 08th of march it starts with 2 red foxes playing and running around, 3 wolves walking along the river, then 1 red fox, then later 1 Tibetan fox, then the 9 wolves pack crossing the valley, then the great eagle owl, 2 more red fox, and at the end of the afternoon, we see 1 more Tibetan fox ! And from far, we see the Pallas cat hunting on the dry river bed.

09th of march is our last day. We try to see the animals before leaving. We manage to see 1 Tibetan fox, 1 red fox and 3 wolves. When we decide to leave for real, the Pallas cat appears a last time ! Then we go back to Leh.

I think the photos attached to this article speak for themselves! We had a fabulous trip far beyond our expectation.


Post author

jerry swift


  • Therabu

    Simply amazing 😍

  • Lennartv

    Sounds like you had a nice time over there! I am curious though which pictures were taken of the moments you observed. I was intrigued by your header image because I was there at the time as well and took many pictures of the Snow Leopard on those rocks. You can find a similar picture in the report of Andreas Jonsson who was there together with me. Only that was on March the 7th and I understand from your report you were already on the Tibetan Plateau around that time. I also think the picture of the Pallas’ Cat close by on the rocks was taken in summer and not in winter since it looks like it’s a young cat in summer coat and I know that they have showed themselves in past summers like that on the rocks. Apparently it’s much harder to see them this way in winter.

    Nothing wrong with adding a few more extra pictures to show what can be possible at other moments, but to manage expectations it helps to be clear about the timing.

    • jerry swift

      You are absolutely right Lennartv ! The thing is that I have been there also during summer (but did not make any report at that time) and made folders of my pictures by species. Then when I wrote this article, I included the pictures I felt the most beautiful. I just remember for sure that the video has been recorded accurately the 13th of February as it was really a crazy day !
      I plan to go back there the next summer with exotic Ladakh again. I might make a new report this time as I have already a good number of good pictures and for sure future good ones too !


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