Snow leopards are fascinating animals; found at elevations of thousands of feet. Also, these wild cats are only native to the central Asian region, and to see one in its natural habitat, you have to travel to one such location. There are a number of places, where you can spot a snow leopard in the wild; however, no other destination is as good as Pin Valley National Park in Himachal Pradesh. With its altitude ranging between 3300 metres and 6632 metres, the 1825-sq km territory is an ideal home for snow leopards. Lippa Asrang and Kibber wildlife sanctuaries are two locations where locals claim to have spotted snow leopards.
The Snow Leopard Trek in Spiti Valley is the perfect excursion to spot the wild cat. This 7-day journey gives you ample opportunities to come face to face with the animal and also with the other animal species that thrive in the region; the list also includes numerous reptiles as well as birds. Pin Valley National Park is also a significant reserve for the conservation of Himalayan ibex. While on this adventurous journey, you will get the opportunity to come across all of the above-mentioned animals and many more.
You begin this Snow Leopard Trek from the charming hill station of Shimla and drive to the small town of Reckong Peo. Do not forget to click pictures of the sacred Kinner Kailash from here. The second day’s drive takes you to the village of Kibber, located in the heart of Pin Valley National Park; the perfect area for a snow leopard spotting excursion. Kibber is located at an altitude of about 4200 metres, which is also the height at which these wild cats are usually found.
The third, fourth and fifth days of the snow leopard trail in Spiti are completely dedicated to spotting them. Every morning, you head out with your packed lunches, to spot a snow leopard. Besides the cat, there are Tibetan wolves, and numerous birds, such as Tibetan snow finches, Eurasian golden orioles and red-fronted rosefinches, to see here.
Among the most popular treks in Spiti Valley, this itinerary is the perfect blend of vistas, wildlife and culture. Your time in serene hamlets of Kibber and Reckong Peo gives you ample opportunities to learn about the local people and their simple way of life. While hiking in the Himalayas, you get to admire nature from up-close. As you hike from one hill to another, you will come across the many flora and fauna species that live in the region.
The sixth and seventh day of the journey is when you return from the thrilling adventure. While the former day brings you back to Reckong Peo, the latter takes you back to Shimla, where this excursion concludes. The memories of this exciting venture will remain etched in your memory forever. One thing is guaranteed that after this sojourn, you will come closer to nature and appreciate it more.
Day 01: Shimla to Reckong Peo
The Snow Leopard Trek in Spiti Valley begins with a pickup from Shimla, and takes you to Reckong Peo, about 245 km away. During the road trip, also enjoy driving along the gushing Sutlej River.
Reckong Peo is a serene town situated at an altitude of 2670 metres above sea level. Commanding magnificent views of Kinner Kailash, the home of Lord Shiva, as per Hindu mythology, it is often referred to as the Land of the Gods. After reaching the town, enjoy a delicious dinner and refreshing sleep at a homestay.
Day 02: Reckong Peo to Kibber
Start early in the morning and after freshening up, head to Kibber. At an elevation of more than 4200 metres, Kibber is a small yet charming village. It is surrounded by lush fields, and the houses here are built in the traditional Tibetan style of architecture.
The village lies in Pin Valley National Park, which is home to snow leopards. Besides these cats, a large number of other mammals and reptiles are also found in this sanctuary. On reaching Kibber, transfer to the homestay and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Day 03: Snow Leopard Sighting Excursion
This is the day when the on-foot adventure of the snow leopard trail in Spiti begins. Freshen up early in the morning, take your packed lunch, and proceed to get a sight of the rare cat. This section will prove why this hike is counted among the most popular treks in Spiti Valley.
With a population of only a few thousand, the snow leopards are found only in the central Asian region. As you wander in the area, you might spot the wild cat strolling in the park, looking for a hunt. In case you do not, you will have plenty of opportunities in future. Later, return to the homestay and spend the night.
Day 04: Snow Leopard Sighting Excursion
Again, start early in the morning, take your packed lunches and head out to spot a snow leopard. Walk from hill to hill, looking for paw prints that could hint about the location of a snow leopard.
In case you spot one, do not waste time and immediately click a few pictures. Also, these animals are a little shy and can disappear in the blink of an eye, so it is better to enjoy every second of the sight.
Even if no traces of a snow leopard are found, it is highly probable that you will come face to face with an Asiatic ibex or Tibetan wolf. You might also spot a blue sheep standing on steep slopes. Pin Valley National Park is also home to a large number of birds. About 72 species of birds, belonging to 28 families have been recorded here. This list includes yellow-billed choughs, red-billed choughs, ashy drongoes, Eurasian golden orioles, Tibetan snow finches and red-fronted rosefinches. After spotting the fascinating wildlife of the park, return to the homestay.
Day 05: Snow Leopard Sighting Excursion
On this last day of snow leopard adventure, begin before the sun comes out, pick your packed lunch and head out for the wildlife spotting tour. Since they have evolved to easily hide in the mountainous region, it can be hard to spot one. Look carefully, as one might be hiding behind a boulder.
This is your final day in Pin Valley National Park; therefore, you should click as many pictures as possible. After the photo session, retreat to Kibber and enjoy a good night’s sleep.
Day 06: Kibber to Reckong Peo
Freshen up in the morning and drive back to Reckong Peo. The 220-km journey takes about a full day, and you arrive in the town in the evening. On reaching the town, enjoy a refreshing sleep.
Day 07: Reckong Peo to Shimla
On this final day of the venture, transfer to Shimla, and end this Snow Leopard Trek amidst the mighty peaks of the Himalayas.
Departure Dates: January 2017- 21st, February 2017- 5th, 12th, 19th
Best time to go: January and February
Maximum Altitude: 14700 feet