Several kinds of experts, animal enthusiasts, and nature lovers from across the globe come to Rumbak Valley, Ladakh, to spot the mystical cat of the Himalayas, the snow leopard. Of the 5 famous regions in India to house this beautiful high-mountain cat (J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh), Rumbak, Ladakh is prominently known as the snow leopard capital of the world. It holds an unimaginable ecology of rare animals. Some of the prominent ones are pica, blue sheep, Tibetan wolf, golden eagle, brown fox, and of course, the snow leopard.
The landscape of Rumbak valley is balanced with ice-covered streams of the Indus River streaming between huge peaks and a rocky terrain. The 3 famous spots of this trek are Tarbung valley, Hussing point, and Rumbak village. These three locations hold several pathways where snow leopards cross territories and settle down for mating and hunting. Every spot also holds a unique viewing point that allows trekkers and others to rest and soak in the magical view for hours. This spectacle can be witnessed only during the peak winters of Ladakh, from December end to March. Here the temperatures go below subzero and remain unpredictable with a sudden onset of snowfall and heavy winds.
This fierce cat is known to be extremely elusive and tough to spot. Luck, patience, and a sharp eye play a huge part in this trek. To say that spotting the grey ghost of the Himalayas is a wild experience would be an understatement.
Nestled in the heart of the Hemis National Park, the valleys of Rumbak have an extensive network of ridges that serve as a highway for the grey ghosts to move in search of food. Unlike other species of the cat family, Leopards don't have a den or cave. They are constantly on the go and make only temporary halts near fresh food sources. This makes spotting the elusive ghost a rare opportunity.
The Snow Leopard trek is a one of a kind trek in our portfolio. Though it requires a basic amount of trekking, it has a completely different structure with a much stronger resemblance to wildlife excursions than hardcore treks. Instead of a trek guide, there will be an expert in tracking and spotting to lead us through this expedition. Instead of walking long distances, we will be required to stay in a single place in wait for the elusive cat. Instead of trekking equipment, our gears for the trip will be telescopes and binoculars. Instead of learning to ascend and descend on trails, we will be learning how to study animal behavior by analyzing pug marks and other signs for movements. There are no fixed timings and set patterns or destinations to cover. To know more about the attractions, stories, and facts of this trek, check - All you need to know about the Snow leopard Expedition.
The slopes of the Rumbak region are considerably short and steep. It takes proper skill, a certain level of fitness, basic equipment, and experience to climb them. The Snow Leopard expedition is a level 4 on the Bikat Rating Scale, making it a moderate level trek. The main challenges here are the subzero temperatures and slippery scree sections. The frigid region calls for extensive layering and the nature of the terrain demands a fair bit of knowledge about techniques employed in walking on such slopes. To learn more about the challenges and trials of the trek, check - Who is this trek meant for.
So, get ready to track, trek and spot the grey ghost of the Himalayas. Stay on this page for more information.
Day 1 – Arrive at Leh (3,500M)
Leh serves as the main base for the trek and is home to some of the most known and unknown high-altitude peaks towering at 6,000M and 7,000M such as Stok Kangri, Kang Yatse I and II, Dzo Jongo, Mt. Nun, etc. Also, its magnificent terrain has some beautiful trekking trails like Markha Valley, Chadar Trek, etc. To add to this, it has all the conveniences of a city with plenty options to just kick back and relax.
After landing at Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, Leh, you can directly reach our assigned hotel or if you choose our transport, we will pick you up and drop you at the designated hotel. After reaching the hotel, the first day is solely reserved for rest.
Day 2 – Acclimatization at Leh (3,500M)
The high altitude and low oxygen level might give you a headache and make you feel tired. The best remedy for acclimatization is to drink a lot of water and travel to the local market. A walk in the lanes of Leh will introduce you to the magic word Juley (Hello).
For sightseeing, you can visit the famous Leh palace and other monasteries nearby. The local market of Leh has some novel cafes and authentic flea markets as well. If you are looking to buy some souvenirs and trekking gear, that's the right spot for you.
Day 3 – Leh (3,500M) to Rumbak Valley base camp (3,600M)
On this day, we start from our hotel around 10 AM and drive to Rumbak Valley. The drive of close to 20 kms should take us around 45 minutes to cover. When you come out of Leh and go through the highway, you can see the marvelous Stok Range on the left and rugged military camps on the right. This continues for the next 10kms until you enter a vast metal bridge where you can spot the ancient Spituk monastery and the olive green Indus River. The road continues towards the picturesque Phey village from here and then ends at the Hemis National Park. Vehicles are not allowed inside the park. So we walk for the remaining 2 kilometers till we reach our campsite.
Day 4 – Tracking and spotting at Tarbung Valley (around 3,800M)
Our expert spotter will have an early scouting session and take us to the first viewing point. Tarbung valley is around 1 km from our campsite and it's the first point where we will wait for the entire day. In case of fresh marks, we will ascend towards the viewpoint (50-degree slope) and set up a spot for viewing. If there are no fresh tracks, we will wait at a flat section beneath the viewpoint and keep an eye on the ridges to look for signs of movement. Our team will communicate via walkie-talkies to keep each other updated. Lunch and refreshments for the day will reach us on our location directly.
Day 5 – Tracking and spotting at Husing Point (around 3,800M)
On this day, we will focus on the second point of the trek. Husing point is around 500 meters away and, with a 60-degree gradient, has one of the steepest ascents on the trail. It is not a hard climb, especially under the local guide’s guidance. So, there is nothing to worry about. Once on top, we will witness a stunning array of snow-capped mountains standing tall. After scouting the region for signs and movement of the gray ghost, we head back to our campsite by early evening.
Day 6 - Tracking and spotting at Rumbak (around 4,100M)
The distance from our campsite to Rumbak viewpoint is around 3 km and it takes around 2 hours to reach. On the way, watch out for some beautiful Himalayan birds like the golden eagle and Eurasian magpie which are fairly common in the region. From this viewpoint, we take a small detour inside the Rumbak village. Notice the vibrant colors and the life of the humble villagers who live here. The Rumbak viewpoint gives a 360-degree view of the Stok range, and the many conjunction points of the many high mountains in Ladakh. This spot is also famous for blue sheep. If we are lucky, it will present us with herds of these spry mountain sheep sprinting effortlessly around these high-gradient slopes. After spending the entire day here, we return to our campsite by early evening.
Day 7, 8 & 9 - Tracking and spotting
The itinerary might alter according to weather conditions and track marks. The next course of action will be planned according to our guide after thoroughly calculating the scenarios. He will go for an early tracking and scouting session and update us regarding the plan. Depending upon the tracks or marks, we will switch between valleys or even stay at a single viewpoint for a long time. On Day 9, we will wait for viewing till evening and drive back to our hotel in Leh.
Day 10 – Depart from Leh (3,500M)
You can check out of the hotel at 10 AM and start your return journey. If you are planning to stay for a few more days and explore the wonders of Ladakh, then check this article – Places that you must visit in Leh Ladakh.
Note – This itinerary is structured according to recent information from our experts. The day wise plan might change according to the activity of the animals and weather conditions in the area.
This trek can be done by both beginners and experienced trekkers. For beginners, it is recommended to have good physical fitness and learn about campsite basics, ascending and descending on mountain trails, basics of high altitude acclimatization process.
If you are not meeting these benchmarks, please use the preparation schedule to improve your fitness till you achieve the above benchmarks.
The base of the Snow Leopard Trek in Ladakh in Leh which in winters is accessible only by air. Leh has flight connections from Delhi, Chandigarh and other major cities.
No cellular network beyond Leh.
December to March are the best months for the Ladakh Snow Leopard Trek.
Click here for packing list.
The minimum age limit is 13 years. However, minors aged between 13 to 17 should be accompanied with their parents or guardians. If you are above the age of 60, kindly carry a medical certificate from your doctor that deem you fit for adventure activities like trekking.
You will be accommodated in a mix of hotel/guesthouses/homestays. On the days we go in search of the snow leopard, we will be staying in homestays and tents.
We provide 4 seasons tents by Gipfel for higher altitudes which can easily withstand heavy snowfall and storms. They are spacious enough to accomodate 3 people at once with a vestibule to place the backpacks Our sleeping bags are made up of Heatseeker Pro synthetic insulation that can provide you comfort in -10 degrees celsius. We also use additional fleece liners to have thermal efficiency even in the extreme temperatures of -17 degrees Celsius. If you carry your own sleeping bag, you will get a cashback reward, provided that you inform us as soon as you have booked your trek.
Toilet tents will be provided to you on the trek.These are portable toilets tents where a deep pit will be dug. A shovel will be provided inside the tent to cover the waste after you have made your business. You can take a toilet roll inside. Make sure you dig used toilet paper along with the waste. Though water is recommended in place of toilet paper. Please refrain from using wet wipes as they are non-biodegradable. There will be no facility for bathing on the trek. Go through our blog section for tips on how to maintain personal hygiene on treks.
Winters in Ladakh are very harsh and extremely cold. With heavy snowfall and temperatures plummeting to -20 to -30 degrees.
Yes, there will be snow on the trek.
You will be provided with good quality of gaiters and microspikes from us depending upon the situation of the snow. Our trek leaders will also be carrying ropes and ice axe.
If you want to offload your rucksack, you will have to make a request for offloading a few days prior the trek through an email so that arrangement can be made in advance. You will be charged per day for offloading your rucksack. In case you decide to offload on the spot, you may have to pay a higher price than usual. However offloading your rucksack is not recommended since it is not a safe practice.
A team of participant will be led by a course certified trek leader and a local guide. All participants are requested to abide by what their leader says. There will also be a team of kitchen staff and porters on the trek. We maintain 1:8 ratio of trek leader and participants. All our trek leaders and staff have a certified training in first-aid and rescue operation.
Vegetarian food will be served throughout the trek. The only non-vegetarian item served on our treks are eggs. Our kitchen staff follows a proper menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner which has been designed in order to fulfil the nutritional requirements of the participants. There will be milk, poha, eggs, muesli/corn flakes, bread and butter served for breakfast. Rice or simple roti sabzi will be packed for lunch. In dinner, you will have dal, egg curry or any other vegetarian dish along with rice, roti, and a dessert item. Packed lunch will be provided to you on the days you are trekking. You are requested to carry your own tiffin box and a mug to consume food. The meals consumed on journey and arrival day are not included in our cost.
It is not mandatory but it is more convenient with the pole. If you don’t want to buy one, you can rent it from us on minimal daily basis charges. You can request the renting link from us.
It is recommended to come prepared with all the necessities and buy the same beforehand.
Yes, it is absolutely safe for solo woman to travel in fix departures. Women on the trek will be sharing tent with each other. In case you are the only woman on the trek, you will be given a separate tent.
Yes, e-certificates will be given at the end of each trek provided that you completed it. It will bear your name, the trek, and the maximum altitude you achieved on the trek.
You can rent following items from us- Trekking Pole, Trekking Shoes, Fleece Jacket, Rucksack
We will pick you up from your hotel in Leh and drop you off at the same location.
Expect to reach Leh by late afternoon.
ID Proof (Soft Copy to be sent to us in Advance & original to be carried) and Medical Certificate (Soft Copy to be sent to us & original to be carried) are the mandatory documents required for this trek.
Our community is an integral part of us and we take pride in our trekkers and climbers. When you complete at least three days on any trek or expedition with us, you become eligible for our membership and referral programs.
For us, a successful summit is not about reaching the highest point of a mountain but about making it safely back to base.
Cancellations up to 30 days prior to departure date
Between 30 days to 15 days prior to departure
Less than 15 days of departure
No Cash Refund
Cancellations up to 5 days prior to departure date
Cancellations less than 5 days prior to departure
Ritvij Kumar 02 October 2017
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