Trekking through snow is a beautiful thing but meeting the animals of the snow is one of the most exciting and rare things to witness in life. The snow leopard trek is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where your heart will be filled with fun, thrill, and adventure amidst the whole world of winters. Staying true to the name, this trek takes you closer to the fauna of winter and snow, in the mountains of Leh. At an altitude of 4130 meters, you will be exploring the mountains of Ladakh in the valleys of Markha and Rumbak. The Hemis National Park is a significant part of the trek, where you will witness the snow beings moving in their natural habitat. You will catch the sight of snow leopards, snow cock, snow partridge, Tibetian wolf, blue sheep, Eurasian brown bear, horned lark, red-billed chough, ibex, marmot, shapo, Tibetian hare, antelope, and argali sheep. Besides animals, you will witness several Himalayan birds like the golden eagle, vultures, and migratory birds with the insects of the snow flying around. Each turn of the trail will showcase a different being. You can spot animals between the rugged mountains, stretches of greenery, and on the snow. Animals and their association with the folklore of Rumbak valley in the middle of the cold desert with a freezing breeze is bliss to an adventure seeker’s soul.
Snow leopard Himalayan Trek is one of the most thrilling treks that happens to be at an altitude of 4130 meters. This trek can be enjoyed by intermediate to experienced trekkers as it requires living in harsh climatic conditions. You have to live in camps near snow all the time at Rumbak valley because this area is always covered in snow. The trek can finish up around 8 days while exploring Hemis National Park, Rubak Valley, and other surrounding valleys. The nearest airport is Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport, situated at a distance of 50 kilometers from the base camp Zingchen. The airport is known to be offering daily arrivals and departures via Delhi and other major cities. You can get mobile network services of many sim cards near the Zingchen, but nothing beyond. The best season to experience the breathtaking trek is around winter from January and February as the temperatures go down and the whole region is covered with snow. These climatic conditions let you enjoy the chills of cold adventures.
Itinerary at a glance
Day 1- Arrive in Leh and explore nearby places.
Day 2- Leh Local Sightseeing including Chilling.
Day 3- Travel from Leh to Zingchen and start Snow Leopard Trek to Rumbak Valley.
Day 4- Trek from Rumbak Valley to Stok La.
Day 5- Explore Rumbak valley and nearby villages.
Day 6- Explore Rumbak Valley.
Day 7- Descend to Zingchen and move to the hotel in Leh.
Day 8- Depart Leh.
Arrive in Leh
Arrive at Leh airport and transfer to the hotel.
Rest in the hotel for some time and enjoy lunch served with warm beverages.
Visit Shanti Stupa and watch the sunset.
Explore Leh palace on a quick tour.
Spend time in the local markets of Leh.
Arrive back in the hotel and rest for the night.
Winter weather prompts wearing winter coats.
The best clothing for this kind of climate is thermal wear which includes inners, sweaters, and jackets.
Wearing several layers of T-shirts will help you stay warm on your trek because you can add or remove them as the weather changes at various points.
If there is ever an emergency, rain gear should be carried.
Since cold waves cause you to lose the most body heat from your head, scarves, hats, and woolen ear covers are essential.
The head should be completely covered as a result.
Carry several pairs of gloves and socks.
Trekking-appropriate pants with zippers are advised to bring two pairs.
Thermal layers are necessary to stay warm because the chilly winds can cause discomfort.
Trekking shoes that are suitable for any kind of terrain, especially for snow.
Backpack A 50-60 liter backpack is required.
Leakproof lunch box,
Quick energy bites
UV-protected sunglasses for preventing snow blindness.
Sunglasses and sunscreen for sun protection.
Instead of a single beam or torch, carry a headlamp that covers a large area.
The headlamp will free up your hand to perform another task.
Plastic covers to keep your used clothes separate from your new clothes and food.
Carry chargers, power banks, and a magnetic compass with you to ensure proper communication and navigation.
Don’t harm snow leopards or any other animals.
Keep yourself safe from all the animals by following the instructions of the tour guide.
Don’t go near snow leopards.
Don’t tease or follow snow leopards.
Visit a doctor before the trek to know about your fitness level and have other mandatory checkups.
Keep cash with yourself as there is no ATM or UPI facility in the entire trekking route from base camp to the top.
There would be no mobile phone network after Zingchen. Hence, you should inform your family about snow leopard trekking.
Headaches, hypoxic conditions, vomiting, and many other health problems can happen due to sudden loss of oxygen.
Carry medicines and take necessary measures to avoid any health combination.
Wear thermal layers or multiple layers of warm clothes to protect yourself from cold.
Cover your head with woolen clothes and wearables as cold waves hit your head and face causing your body temperature to drop.
Wear sunglasses to protect yourself from the UV reflection of the snow.
The sleep 7-9 hours during the days of your trek as moving restlessly would hinder your journey keeping you uncomfortable.
Carry a 50-60 liter backpack for keeping all the necessary items.
Snow leopards are called ‘Ghost of the Mountains’ because of their shy and reserved behavior.
Snow leopards cover their skin with colored fur which makes them difficult to spot in the snow.
Rumbak Valley is sometimes addressed as the land of ‘Grey Ghost’, meaning the land of snow leopards.
There is a monastery in Rumbak valley where 80 monks live.
You should choose Snow leopard trek because it will present you with the sight of the rarest snow leopard moving freely in the environment. As you explore the Rumbak Valley and Hemis National park, you will witness Blue sheep, Eurasian brown bear, horned lark, red-billed chough, ibex, marmot, shapo, Tibetan hare, antelope, argali sheep, etc. Along with animals, you will see a variety of Himalayan birds, including the golden eagle, vultures, and migratory birds, as well as flying insects. The trail will reveal a different being at every corner as animals can be seen on the snow, between the rocky mountains, and along stretches of greenery.
Snow leopard trek ranges from moderate to difficult as you will travel up to 4100 meters at Rumbak Valley. The trek starts from Zingchen at 3380 meters to Rumbak Valley, taking 2-3 hours to complete. The trail is simple with a range of moderate treks as you have to move through the snow. Once you reach the valley, you will have to stay at the campsite for the next 2-3 days and explore the place. The idea of living in such harsh cold climatic conditions makes this trek a bit difficult. Moreover, the temperatures fall up to -20 degrees Celsius, making the weather extremely cold and frosty to survive. You will have to stay in the tents and stay safe all the time from snow leopards and other beings.
Yes, you will find snow anytime you indulge in snow leopard trekking.
Beyond Zingchen, mobile networks aren’t accessible. You should inform your family and loved ones before starting the Snow leopard trek.
During the six-day trek, the first, second, and night of the seventh day will accommodate you in a hotel in Leh. From day 3 to day 7, you will rest in the tents at the camping site of Rumbak valley.
Regular hydration can aid in maintaining the body's balance. To avoid getting altitude sickness, you need to get enough sleep when you are climbing more than 1000 feet per day. Pre-training establishes a solid base for efficient acclimatization and management of altitude-related issues.
Besides the snow leopard, you will witness a variety of rare snow animals, birds, and insects. Some popular ones include the golden eagle, snow vultures, Blue sheep, Eurasian brown bear, horned lark, red-billed chough, ibex, marmot, shapo, Tibetan hare, antelope, argali sheep, etc.
You have to be physically sound and active to cover the ascending distance. For this, prior fitness training is required. You can start to jog 5 km in 35 minutes to increase cardiovascular endurance.