Hemis National Park is the only national reserve that is situated north of the Himalayas, in the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh.
This ecosystem is absolutely unique and a large number of rare species inhabit it.
This park is the critically endangered Snow Leopard’s natural habitat.
A powerful feline, the Snow Leopard is genetically very similar to the tiger, but only resides at very high altitudes. In Hemis, it feeds on an abundant prey base of herbivores such as wild sheep, ibex, and urial, which are only found in these remote valleys of Ladakh.
The Tibetan Grey Wolf, which is related yet distinct from its lower-lying cousin, the Indian Grey Wolf, is another predator which is found here. Hemis also has a growing population of Eurasian Brown Bears and Red Foxes. You will also observe rare species of weasels, marmots, and the Himalayan Mouse-Hare, all of which have adapted to survive at high altitudes.
You will spot some of the larger birds of prey up at these lofty heights, including the Golden Eagle and the Himalayan Griffon Vulture, as they circle in the sky.
The Rumbak Valley is heaven for bird-watchers as you can spot several Tibetan species here that are not found elsewhere.
The flora in Hemis is as fascinating as the fauna. Hemis is a part of the Karakoram West Tibetan Plateau Alpine Steppe Eco-region. Situated in a rain-shadow zone, the wilderness here is mainly populated by Pine forest, Alpine meadows, and Steppe shrubs such as Artemisia and Gentiana, which are known for their medicinal properties.
Valleys such as Uly, Markha and Rumbak have some of the best nature trails and wildlife.
After you arrive in Leh and have spent a couple of days acclimatising to the high altitude, Encounters Asia arranges for you to travel to Hemis National Park. Base yourself in a charmingly rustic lodge, a local home that has been refurbished for guests, as part of a community development project to encourage villagers to preserve the snow leopard and its habitat as a source of income, instead of poaching it.
You will be accompanied by expert guides, naturalists, and trackers who will take you on daily excursions by jeep into the park. A few parts of Hemis are only accessible on foot, and we advise you to carry sturdy walking shoes and warm clothes when you visit the park.
For those who have a passion for wildlife and photography, capturing the snow leopard on camera is an exhilarating challenge.
Encounters Asia can assist you with all the permits, logistics and arrangements to photograph or film in Hemis. Another terrific photo-op is to capture playful bear cubs on camera as they gambol through the snow.
For Snow Leopards, the best time to visit is in the winter from November to February, when the snow is thick on the ground.
Brown Bears hibernate during the winter, so the best time to observe them in action is between May and September.
An expedition to Hemis, especially to see the Snow Leopard in the winter months, is not for the faint-hearted. But for those who have a passion for the outdoors and are fascinated by unusual species — this is a trip of a lifetime. Let Encounters Asia be your guide on this once in a lifetime experience to discover the indescribable beauty of wildlife in the Himalayas.