Snow Leopard Winter Trek

enquire nowSpiti, the once forbidden ‘Middle kingdom’ on the frontiers of Indo -Tibet, is a jewel hidden within the folds of the Trans Himalaya. In the depth of winter, this primeval & harsh land is often cut off from the rest of the world and the ‘Grey ghost of the Himalaya,’ the elusive Snow Leopard(Panthera uncia), descends from the high peaks into the valleys to hunt for Blue Sheep. We bring you this exciting trip, which takes you to this remote and incredibly beautiful part of Himachal Pradesh, into the very heart of the Indian Himalaya, in search of the rare mountain feline.


The trip starts with a drive to Shimla, the erstwhile summer seat of the British Raj in India. From here, we proceed up the valley of the Sutlej & into the beautiful Kinnaur region, which is the land of the ‘Kinnauras’; Believed to have descended from celestial beings, who were the musicians to the Gods & Goddesses of the Hindu pantheon. Acclimatizing slowly to the altitude from here on, and visiting several of the important villages in the area (with great views of the grand Kinnaur Kailash range enroute), we cross over into the Spiti valley.

It is in Spiti that our snow leopard adventure really takes off. We will begin with a visit to the - more than a millennium old - ‘Tabo’ monastery and go on to explore a few of the enchanting villages of the ‘Middle Kingdom,’ before heading to the really high villages of upper Spiti: Kibber, Gete & Tashigang, where we begin our tryst with the ‘Grey ghost of the mountains.’ We will spend the next 3 – 4 days exploring the high pastures and gorges around these villages, accompanied by an expert local field guide. We spend time in and around the Kibber village, which is the prime habitat of the Snow Leopard and get a chance to stay with a local family.

Sightings are made at some point on a regular basis in this area during most winters, though we must stress that the Snow Leopard remains one of the most elusive animals on the planet and sightings are not guaranteed. Other animals we have a chance to see are Bharal (Blue Sheep), Ibex, Tibetan Wolf, Fox, Pika and Wooly Hare. Many of Spiti’s birds head south in winter but some stay including Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeyer, Golden Eagle, Himalayan Snowcock, Chukor Partridge and many of smaller birds such as Finches, Dippers and Accentors.


This is an adventurous tour and you need to be flexible in your approach to the trip. The trip takes place in winter, when Spiti can be cut off for a few days (in the event of a heavy snowfall) from the rest of the world, till the approach road from Shimla is restored. Temperatures frequently drop well below zero and the wind chill can push them even lower, sometimes going down to – 20 Celsius. Although the hotel in Kaza will be comfortable, water pipes can freeze in winter and water (both hot and cold) may have to be provided in a bucket.

In the higher villages, conditions will be basic with either homestays or Lodges. While staking out to get a glimpse of the wildlife, camping in sub zero temperatures may be necessitated or staying in local Spitian houses, where amenities will be very limited. The tour is designed to maximize chance of spotting a Snow Leopard. This means that you need to be flexible, and we may have to adjust or change the itinerary at short notice, should snow conditions or other adverse local conditions deem it wise to do so. What makes this trip challenging, is the weather conditions in the Spiti & Kinnaur valleys at this time of year. However, the upside of that is the very rare opportunity of seeing this incomparable area’s wildlife & enigmatic culture at its purest. Bereft of the trappings of modern tourist stereotypes. The walking distances each day will be moderate. Most of the walking will be optional dependant on your enthusiasm for tracking & spotting wildlife each day.


  • An invaluable chance to see the Snow leopard (Panthera uncial) in its pristine winter habitat.
  • A chance to visit the beautiful valley’s of Kinnaur & Spiti, in winter, without the usual summer tourists.
  • A visit to the ancient Tabo monastery, which is more than a millennium old and is often referred to as the “Ajanta of the Himalayas.’
  • Interaction with the wonderful people of upper Spiti.
  • Possibility of participating in a local winter festival.

Shimla,  Kalpa, Nako lake, Tabo, Dhankar, Lalung, Ki, Kibber, Gete, Tashigang, Hikkim, Langza, Comic and back to Shimla.


SEASON: January - February
CLIMATE: Bitterly Cold
MAX. ALTITUDE: 4, 280 m (Komic Village)
TRIP TYPE: Jeep safari

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: Shimla - Kalpa (175 km)
Duration: 7 hours
Travel to Kalpa visiting Rampur en route. Drive down from Shimla and crossing over to the other side of the river, we will follow the Hindustan - Tibet road to Recong Peo, the principal township in Kinnaur and also the district headquarters. From Peo, a climb brings us to the beautiful village of Kalpa, nestled amongst apple orchards and Chilgoza pine trees. Kalpa and a couple of villages around it such as Chini and Roghi, provide some of the most spectacular views of the Kinner Kailash range across the valley. At sunset, the mellow light sems to light up the great summits of Kinner Kailash, Jorkanden & Sesar Rang with gold. (Overnight in a hotel / Guest house)

Day 02: Kalpa – Nako -Tabo  (125 km)-       .
Duration: 7 hours
Proceed to Nako village, visiting the confluence of Satluj and Spiti rivers at Khab en route. We will also try and go to either up to the Shipki La, the pass that leads on to Tibet (subject to getting permission from the ITBP), or Namgia, the last village in Himachal before the border. Nako is a beautiful , midsized village, on the banks of a lake located on the axis of the Hangrang valley. The Nako lake freezes over in winter and is utilized as a huge skating rink by the locals
Nako - Tabo (69 km)
Travel to Tabo and visit the Tabo monastery, which is more than a thousand years old and is famous for its wall paintings and murals. It is supposed to have been built by the great Buddhist translator ‘Lotsava Rinchen-b-Zangpo’ & also known as the Ajanta of the Himalayas for it’s beautiful Stucco art and frescoes. Tabo is a great repository of ancient Buddhist artefacts and a seat of learning next only in significance to the Tholing monastery of Tibet. Check into a guesthouse / Hotel in Tabo village.

Day 03 : Tabo - Dhankar -The high villages of Spiti. Kaza – Hikkim – Langza – Comic ( 4 hours drive)
Visit the spectacular Lalung monasteries gaining an insight into the ancient Vajrayana Buddhist way of life. ( Time Permitting) Drive onwards till you reach the beautiful village of Langza. Proceed from Langza towards the picturesque high altitude villages of Hikkim and Comic. Near Comic is located the quaint but powerful monastery of Thangyud, where tantric rituals are practiced till this day. This area is also a delight for geologists and sometimes fossils dating back to the age of the sea of Tethys can still be found here.

Day’s 4, 5, 6,  : Kaza – Kibber – Gete – Tashigang / Chichim (Search for the Snow leopard)
Driving time 2 hours Trekking Time 4-5 hours
The next  3 – 4 days will be spent in and around the Kibber village (4170 M), in the high altitude Kibber Park. There will be no fixed itinerary and our days will be decided on by our expert wildlife guide - this is to maximise the chances of sighting a Snow Leopard. Our days will be spent searching for Snow Leopards and other animals, which inhabit this area. The extreme cold of winter forces the Snow Leopard and other animals down from the high altitude ridgelines they normally inhabit, into the pasture lands.

The Kibber reserve is situated at an altitude range of 4,000 M - 5,800m (Mt. Kanamo) and hosts an incredible range of wildlife. It is full of endangered species including Snow Leopard(Panthera uncial), Tibetan Ibex(Capra sibirica), Bharal or Blue Sheep(Pseudois nayaur), Wolf (Canis Lupus chanco), Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes), yellow throated marten and the Pallas's Cat. We will spend most of the time exploring known wildlife trails around Kibber, Gete, Tashigang and Thinam, which are on a major Snow Leopard corridor. Daywalks will take us to well known haunts of the Snow Leopard. We will be witness to Snow Leopard pugmarks, scrapes and scat around this area. A good pair of binoculars is recommended to scan the slopes in and around camp. Our wildlife guide will carry a spotting scope. Overnight we will use a mixture of camping and / or home stays / lodges. One night will be spent in either Tashigang or Langza village, where we will use a Spitian home stay

Day 7& 8 (Buffer Day) : Kibber – Shimla
( Total Journey Time 14 hours split into two days )
Return to Shimla using the same route, with an overnight stopover at either Recong Peo or Puh. Day 7h or Day 8 overnight stay in Shimla. We can either leave for New Delhi the next morning or next evening depending on the timing of your Delhi flight/ train.

Trip Concludes.

Dates and Prices



  • A good Tata Sumo  for the entire safari.
  • Educated Guide well versed with local traditions, culture, Flora / fauna and environment etc.,
  • Accommodation in hotels / lodges / guesthouses, all through the safari on twin share basis.
  • Food all through the safari.
  • Camping permissions and charges- wherever applicable.
  • All fuel / toll tax and parking charges etc.
  • Pickup from Shimla and drop till Shimla after the program concludes.



  • Travel  to Shimla and vice versa.
  • Stay in Shimla
  • Expenses of a personal nature like dining in a restaurant, beverages, drinks etc.
  • Tipping of drivers and staff.
  • Personal gear / specialised clothing for the cold weather
  • Personal accidental / life and medical insurance.
  • Medical or any other emergency evacuation costs.
  • Camera batteries or any other props.
  • Mineral or packaged drinking water 
  • Costs due to factors beyond our control such as road blockage due to landslides, avalanches, bad weather etc.
  • Any other services not specified above.


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