What to expect
Despite the measures and comforts taken by Snow Leopard Lodge, it is essential that guests traveling here take the altitude and the extreme conditions seriously. Here is what you can expect
WEATHER AND ALTITUDE – The trans-Himalaya is the region comprising the Karakoram, Ladakh, Pangong and Zanskar ranges and the Tibetan plateau. It is essentially a cold desert that lies in the rain shadow of the Himalaya. The general altitude of the landscape is 3500-4000m. Temperatures in the winter can drop to -20 degrees at night and at dawn and dusk, but on clear days the bright sun and the lack of humidity can make it very warm.
OPERATION – The Snow Leopard Lodge operates as a dedicated wildlife lodge with our team of trackers and fleet of vehicles. The moment the guests leave the city of Leh to the time of return, that is our operational period. We sell only a Jungle plan complete with your stay and meals, expedition vehicle (Toyota Innvoa with an experienced driver), spotters and in lodge experiences. We do not offer extended itineraries outside our area of operation.
THE LODGE – The Snow Leopard Lodge is a simple comfortable wildlife operation packed with all necessary creature comforts to provide a comfortable base at the heart of snow leopard country to explore from. It is made up of two lodges, one in Ulley and one in Mangyu. Both lodges have electricity from the grid with generator backup. Heating in rooms is achieved by a mix of electrical and wood-based heaters.
BATHROOMS – The Lodge at Ulley is a mix of attached and common bathrooms. The common bathrooms are close to the rooms and in the same blocks (down the hallways) and do not involve much walking to access. In Mangyu, all rooms have ensuite bathrooms.
RUNNING WATER – Running water is not possible in the bathrooms during winter as everything freezes, including the pipes. Hot, cold and room temperature water will be provided in buckets (24 hrs), including for flushing and the wash basin.
LAUNDRY – very minimal laundry can be done at the lodge.
BINOCULARS and SCOPES – Good scopes and binoculars are available at the lodge but those are shared by all and not for personal use.
PORTERS AND MULES – The drivers and spotters will help where they can but for guests who want dedicated help, porters/mules need to be pre-booked. (at an extra charge on a per day basis).
CUISINE – Leh is completely cut off in the winter months and this makes bringing in fresh supplies a lot harder than usual. Food at the lodge is cooked using ingredients that are available at that time in the local markets and villages. Most of the food is locally sourced. The cuisine is a mix of Indian, Chinese, Ladakhi and continental meals and are served on a fixed menu basis. Guest preferences are taken into consideration ( if informed in advance ) when these menus are setup. Specific food requests or allergies need to be mentioned in advance so that the right ingredients can be flown in on time.
FITNESS – A basic level of fitness is essential – even though much of the experience is available to people who may have limited mobility due to our use of vehicles. However, walking does allow you to access and experience this landscape in a way simply not possible only by vehicle.
HEALTH AND MEDICAL EMERGENCIES – Firstly, we suggest for those who have a medical history or an existing condition to please share all information with us and consult a doctor before booking a trip. Once at the lodge, we have team members who are first aid certified. The closest medical subcentre is 30 mins away and a hospital is a 2 hour drive. We would also like to add that guest health is the primary concern and if we feel there is a situation, the call taken by the team at the lodge will be final. It is important that one immediately informs the lodge staff of any kind of symptom to ensure the issue is addressed at the earliest. Oxygen cylinders are available at all times in both the vehicles and in the lodges for guests.
ACCLIMATISATION – Though this period is outside our area of operation, we would like to add that your period of acclimatisation in Leh is extremely critical and can make or break your trip. Please follow all acclimatisation procedures to the dot to make sure you are deemed fit to arrive at the lodge and track the Himalayan wildlife.
WILDLIFE VIEWING – Arrive with an open mind and embrace the experience, the landscapes, the people, the lesser fauna, all of which has come together to create this wonderful habitat for snow leopards. Remember, you are trying to look for possibly the rarest big cat on the planet. Despite our fantastic track record of sightings, we still maintain that spotting cats is a matter of luck despite all the effort put in.
DAY PLAN – The plan of each day at the lodge is a dynamic one. We are not regulated by safari timings or areas of operation. Everyday starts with our spotters dispersing into the mountains in search of signs of snow leopards. The day plan is based on their findings. It could range from waiting at the lodge to driving to a far mountain valley a few miles away.
DURATION OF STAY – We encourage guests to stay for a minimum of 6 days to increase the chances of encountering a wild cat and also, to ensure there is enough time to immerse yourself in this life changing experience.
MOBILE NETWORK – Connectivity at the lodge is unpredictable but post-paid Jio and BSNL networks will work in areas around the lodge.
LEH AIRPORT – In Leh airport, articles like drones, satellite phones, strong chemicals etc are usually seized so carrying them in hand luggage (or even check in bags) is something we discourage. Also, the day the guests are leaving, the Leh airport authorities allow clothing only in the check in bags. Camera equipment and laptops need to be packed in the hand luggage only. This is something they check seriously and often guests are made to repack if their arrangement is not in accordance with the above system.
ATM – Guests are requested to carry a minimum amount of cash as the ATMs in Leh can be unreliable.