- Duration : 10 Days
- Altitude: Max 14,800ft
- Average Alt 9000ft Min 7000ft)
QUEST FOR THE SNOW LEOPARDS
Snow Leopards are found at high altitudes in the Himalayan mountains of central and south Asia. They have an estimated population of around 4,000-6,590 individuals left on the globe. In this tour we will camp, meet the locals and hopefully be one of few people to see these big cats in the wild.
DAY 1. MANALI TO TIRTHAN VALLEY.
From the south end of the Kullu Valley, the Tirthan Valley leads up southeast into the region known as Inner Seraj. This is an area of exceptional valley and mountain scenery, unspoiled villages and nature, great walks and inviting guesthouses. It’s becoming known among Indians seeking a low-key escape from the plains, but is still off most foreign visitors’ radar. It’s the gateway to the spectacular, World Heritage–listed Great Himalayan National Park, 754 pristine square kilometres of steep-sided river valleys and mountains reaching right up to the 6000m-plus peaks of the Great Himalayan Range.Inner Seraj has two main valleys – that of the Tirthan River itself, and the Banjar Valley which rises southward from the small town of Banjar. The Banjar Valley climbs to the 3132m Jalori Pass, which leads over to the Sutlej valley and thus forms the most direct route linking the Kullu Valley with Kinnaur.
DAY 2. TIRTHAN VALLEY TO KALPA.
Kalpa is a small town in the Sutlej river valley, above Recong Peo in the Kinnaur district, vally known for its Apples. Visit to Kothi Temple : Just 3 km from Recong Peo. Kothi has a temple dedicated to the goddess Chanadika Devi. Set against a backdrop of mountains and groves of the deodar the temple has an unusual architectural style and fine sculpture. An exquisite gold image of goddess is enshrined in sanctum.
DAY 3. KALPA TO NAKO.
High above the Hangrang Valley (as the lower Spiti valley is called), this almost medieval-feeling village of stone and mud-brick houses is a great place to break the journey for a day or two. Administratively part of Kinnaur but culturally in Buddhist Spiti, Nako is centred on a small sacred lake, behind which rise towering rock-strewn mountains dotted by chortens.
DAY 4. NAKO, DHANKAR TO KAZA.
The capital of Spiti, Kaza sits on the eroded flood plain of the Spiti River, with jagged mountains rising on either side, and is the biggest settlement you’ll encounter in this empty corner of the planet. It feels a bit like a small frontier town with an easygoing pace. The often-dry Kaza Nullah stream divides New Kaza (west of the nullah) from the bazaar area, Old Kaza, to the east. Kaza is also the starting point for trips to Ki Gompa and the villages of Kibber, Langza, Hikkim, Komic and Demul, high on the east side of the valley, and a good place to organise treks and tours in or beyond Spiti. On the way visit the spectacular 1200-year-old Dhankar Gompa perches precariously between eroded rocky pinnacles on the edge of a cliff. One glance at the crumbling cliffs and it’s clear why it was listed in 2006 as one of the world’s 100 most endangered monuments. The top-floor courtyard of the main building has a stuffed goat hanging above the stairwell and four rooms around it, including one where the Dalai Lama slept, a meditation cave, and a shrine containing ceremonial masks.
DAY 5. KAZA KI – KIBBER KAZA.
Situated at an altitude of 3600 meter above sea level on left bank of river Spiti is presently the headquarters of Spiti sub division. Translated, ‘Spiti’ means the ‘middle country’ – a name obviously given as a result of its ties with both India and Tibet. With freckles of green over a dry, weather-beaten face, Spiti is a cold desert where the monsoon rain never comes. It is characterised by stark beauty, narrow valleys and high mountains. A century ago, Rudyard Kipling in Kim called Spiti “a world within a world” and a “place where the gods live” – a description that holds true to the present day. Eight kilometres beyond Ki, this relatively large but still traditional village and also a good base to just stay in guesthouses and do local hikes.
DAY 6. KAZA
Aday in kaza to relax and look around
DAY 7. KAZA TO TABO
Tabo is a small town in the Lahaul and Spiti district on the banks of the Spiti River in Himachal Pradesh, India. The town lies on the road between Rekong Peo and Kaza. The town surrounds a Buddhist monastery which, according to legend, is said to be over a thousand years old. Little Tabo, in a dramatic valley setting hemmed in by scree slopes, 48km southeast of Kaza, is the only other town in Spiti. The mud-brick walls of Tabo Gompa enclose some of the finest of all Indo-Tibetan art, and Tabo makes a fine place to kick back for a couple of days. The temples within the monastery complex in Tabo have a plethora of wall paintings and mud statues. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) attempted to restore some paintings that were ravaged by time, but were not very successful. Photography, however, is not permitted inside the monastery.
DAY 8. TABO TO SANGLA.
DAY 9. SANGLA TO SARAHAN.
The former summer capital of the Bushahr kingdom, Sarahan is dominated by the fabulous two-towered Bhimakali Temple, dedicated to a local version of the goddess Kali and built in the traditional Kinnauri manner from layers of stone and timber to absorb the force of earthquakes.The right-hand tower (as viewed from the entrance) was recently rebuilt after the 12th-century original collapsed. The left-hand tower dates from the 1920s and contains the highly revered Bhimakali shrine beneath a beautiful silver-filigree canopy on its top floor.The towers’ curved, peaked roofs suggest the Tibetan influence on Kinnauri architecture, which becomes more marked as you move up the valley.For entry to the innermost courtyard with the towers, male visitors must wear a cap (available on the spot), and cameras, mobile phones and leather items must be left in lockers.
DAY 10. SARAHAN TO MANALI.
This exclusive pioneering itinerary is a once in a lifetime chance to join the experts in the search for the exclusive snow leopards of Himachal Pradesh. Sightings are not guaranteed and if this elusive leopard is sighted it is often at a distance where a spotting scope is required, but this trip is about the all-round spirit of adventure and the outstanding location as well as the wildlife. Other than the snow leopards, we hope to see golden eagles, argali, blue sheep and red fox. Please bear in mind that the itinerary may change as we move and camp according to the weather.
This is a small group safari departing, limited to just 10 passengers. Accommodation is basic – camping out in the Himalayas is about the experience rather than luxury, but we’ll aim to make your visit to one of the most beautiful areas in the world as comfortable as possible.
WHAT MAKES THIS TRIP EXTRAORDINARY
- Travel in a small group of like-minded individuals alongside the experts.
- Searching for the elusive snow leopards in the wild.
- Witness the incredible landscapes of the Himalayas.
- See amazing Himalayan wildlife.