Improving your chances : How do you go about finding a snow leopard in the wild Himalayas?
Several trekking agencies offer each their variety of a “snow leopard trek” – but what are the chances of actually seeing a snow leopard in the wild Himalayas? And does hiring one of these agencies improve your chances in any way?
Well, considering just how vast, huge and enormous a place the Himalayas is, and the fact that there’re only about 1000 snow leopards living in the whole Indian Nepalese and Bhutanese Himalayas combined, odds are not in your favour to begin with. Coupled also with the fact that the snow lion is a very shy animal that likes to live alone in cold and remote parts, your chances of seeing a snow leopard on any normal trek are pretty slim. That said, people do see them from time to time. And what a fantastic sight it is! Check this rare footage of a hunting snow leopard:
If you want to improve your chances of running into a snow leopard on your next Himalayan trek, I have 10 suggestions for you here below. PS: I’m by no means a snow leopard expert, just extremely fascinated by this majestic animal. This is what I’ve managed to put together:
First and foremost, if you can: Hire an agency with a good “track record” – they need to have a professional tracker. These will usually be affiliated with some kind of wildlife conservation organizations. This is really the top advice I can give you.
But how about finding a snow leopard on your own, or with a non-expert guide? Much smaller, but people do get lucky from time to time. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Some say winter is the best time, but I’ve seen reports of sightings in summer as well
2. Winter : Look in lower altitudes (2-4000 m)
Summer : Look in higher altitudes (4-6000 m)
3. Go where the blue sheep go. They are the snow lions main prey
4. Go off trail, far away from popular tourist trails
5. Go up into sidevalleys
6. Go for rocky terrain
7. Be quiet
8. Bring binoculars
9. Look in high viewpoints
10. Talk with locals, ask for sightings – although snow leopards tend to move around and won’t necessarily stay in the same valley for more than a few days.
Whether you find a snow leopard or not, remember to enjoy the hunt!