Travel with environmental photojournalist, Fiona Ayerst deep into the Ladakh region of India on a tutored photographic expedition to document the elusive snow leopard.
The capital Leh sits at a very high altitude and it is vital that we relax and get used to the thin air. While we do this we’ll be traveling around the Leh area and visiting some of the stunning cultural sites and monasteries or just chilling in the comfy hotel or around town. After this period of relaxation, the adventure begins and we will visit some of the most populated snow leopard areas in the world. There is a massive chance that you will see and photograph the wild snow leopards in their natural habitat. You will also have the opportunity to see tibetan wolves, ibex, urial, golden eagles, lammergeyer, pica, snow owls and many more fascinating species.
DATES: 14-days in February annually
GUIDE & TUTOR: Fiona Ayerst
LOCATION: Ladakh, India
COST: $4275 sharing, $4745 single
MAX GUESTS: Nine
INCLUDES: Snow leopard expeditions, local guide, photographic tutor/guide, accommodation, meals, local travel
EXCLUDES: Photographic equipment, flights, travel insurance
OPTIONAL ADDONS: 6-day Holi festival at $1700 (share), $2000 (single)
You will be led by Jigmet Dadul or one of his guides. They are from the snow leopard conservation India trust. Jigmet and his team are the most respected leopard spotters in the area. They will also have the assistance of locally trained guides and scouts using high power spotting scopes.
There will be a combination of camping and traditional homestays high up in the Himalaya mountains. Camping – Shared or single tents are available with a comfortable mattress, pillow, sleeping bag, blanket & a much needed hot water bottle for the evening. The main dining tent will be equipped with a gas heater. Homestay – The houses have wood fire heating in the main kitchen/living room. The guest rooms consist of beds or futon style mattresses with plenty of warm quilts & blankets. Homestay hosts have been trained in accommodating travelers and are members of a community conservation effort to conserve the endangered snow leopards. In Leh, before we leave for the valley, you will receive 2 nights in a heated luxury guest house- before moving to the Ulley valley or Stok and on your return you will receive a further night in the same or a similar quality guest house.
As you will be travelling in the winter local food will consist of plenty of hot healthy food such as organic rice, vegetables and meat. The Ladakhians know how to cater and eat well and there is no shortage of food and hot drinks to keep you warm and full of energy.Bring healthy snacks if you feel you will need to supplement this diet.
This trip is for photographers of all levels and you will receive one-to-one instruction on an informal basis from Fiona Ayerst about how to photograph the snow leopard, wildlife and culture of India. It is suggested you borrow or buy a scope too as it is much easier to use than binoculars, for spotting the cats.
This photo tour is not for you if you aren’t able to walk comfortably. Our special itinerary takes you off the beaten path to the best locations for photographing the elusive cat. You will be hiking and climbing at altitudes of up to 4000 m so you will need to be reasonably fit. (I highly recommend 30 minutes of aerobic exercise every day at least 3 months prior to the tour date and for longer if possible).
Addon: Holi festival, Agra, New Delhi experience
Agra is home to the Taj Mahal is and is an interesting train ride from New Delhi. For those joining me on this leg there are also some great bustling markets scenes (and shopping) to be found in New Delhi. We will be dividing our time up between New Delhi and Agra. Holi or ‘Phagwah’ is the most colourful festival celebrated by the Hindus. It is celebrated as harvest festival as well as welcome-festival for the spring season in India. People smear coloured powder called ‘gulal’ or coloured water on each other and rejoice…This is a sight a photographer cannot afford to miss. It’s a riot of colour.