This trip will be lead by Dag Goering and/or Maria Coffey, founders of Hidden Places Travel and Elephant Earth, along with local ecologists
Sep 01 – Sep 18, 2016 Sep, 2017 TBA
US$ 3560 (8 -12 participants)
US$ 3960 (6-7 participants)
Minimum $500 per participant
Target: $2500 per participant
17 nights, 18 days
Porters throughout the trek
Yaks at higher altitude
4 – 12
Third year running!
for National Geographic Traveler magazine’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime” award! Our Snow Leopards, Snow Mountains Trek is one of 2015’s best guided tours, "a sustainable, authentic, innovative and immersive travel experience" and "a model for the rest of the travel industry."
Our brand new Snow Leopards - Snow Mountains adventure is truly the trip of a lifetime: the only conservation trek ever offered to the remote Kumaon Himalaya in Northern India. This wild and rarely visited landscape — a maze of snow peaks, soaring up to 7,000 meters (23,000 ft.) — is home to one of Central Asia’s densest populations of the rare, endangered and exquisite snow leopard. As well as being a challenging adventure, the trip also has a crucial goal: to assist local efforts in mitigating human-leopard conflict.
There are approximately 6,000 snow leopards left in the wild, and an estimated 10% of these roam the Kumaon Himalaya. With thick, beautiful coats, huge paws that act like snowshoes, and an uncanny ability to scale precipitous slopes, these magnificent animals are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscapes of their high-altitude home. For centuries, they have co-existed with Kumaon’s human inhabitants, tribal agro-pastoral people of Tibetan origin who eke out a precarious existence tending their flocks of sheep.
Our 17-day snow leopard adventure begins in New Delhi, from where we travel by train and road to the beautiful hill station of Munsiari, in Uttarakhand state. From here, we set off on an astonishing twelve-day trek, traversing the land of the snow leopard against a backdrop of awe inspiring Himalayan mountains including Nanda Devi East, Nanda Kot and Panchachuli. We walk in the company of shepherds and yak herders, learning about their way of life in this remote corner of the world, and their relationship — at times fraught — with the magnificent big cats known as ‘ghosts of mist.’ With luck, they help us spot one of these elusive creatures. Although snow leopards are usually solitary animals, with a range of about 40 square miles each, in some of the valleys we trek through as many as three have been seen together. So our chances are good! We also sight Himalayan Thar, a goat-antelope cross, and Bharal, the Himalayan blue sheep, both preyed on by the snow leopard, as well as an array of mountain birds, including griffons and lammergeyers.
Trek with us for snow leopards! Team members will each raise a minimum of US$500 to help kick start and finance a new local initiative to mitigate human-snow leopard conflict in the Kumaon. Our trip leaders are local ecologists, a father and son from this area, who are deeply committed to snow leopard conservation. The shepherds and yak herders accompanying us are our guides, our trek support and our teachers. They give us unprecedented access to their culture and knowledge and introduce us to their families in villages along the way. And they are among the people who will benefit directly from the new grassroots efforts we are helping to create. Funds we raise will support compensation schemes for shepherds who lose their sheep to predation, new breeding programs to create more ‘predator proof’ flocks, the reintroduction of Tibetan Mastiffs as sheep dogs, and education programs to reduce overgrazing of fragile grasslands. Our support will help protect the snow leopard and also the culture of the people who share its habitat.
Snow Leopards - Snow Mountains is adventure travel at its best and most authentic. We trek up to 12 miles a day, reaching an altitude of 4,225 meters (13,850 ft.). We stay in traditional village houses and camp with shepherds in beautiful high meadows close to glaciers. The rewards of our efforts are rare and unforgettable: moving through a mythical landscape; being immersed in the culture and daily life of Himalayan livestock herders; supporting crucial conservation work; and having the chance to see the secretive snow leopard in its stunning natural environment.
Experience the wondrous world of the snow leopard and the graceful daily life of Kumaon, and help preserve both a vital species and a unique way of life.
Join us on this extraordinary journey!
Adventure Travel has been our specialty since 1991 when we started to explore the world's most spectacular places as photographers and writers. Several years (and several books) later we began sharing our experiences with others by developing and leading adventure tours. We founded Hidden Places Travel in 2000 and quickly became renowned for our unique, off-the-beaten-track itineraries. Our support of local communities and conservation projects gives our trips unprecedented access and our loyal following of repeat guests is a testament to our professionalism and nurturing approach.
We invite you to join us on one of our life-changing adventures.
Dag Goering and Maria Coffey