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Wild Ladakh - Birding and Wildlife Photography Tour

DCP Expeditions LLP
Event organized by DCP Expeditions LLP

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A land of sun, sand and snow. Leh has the most extreme climate and that’s the reason of it being pristine yet. Leh compels people with its display of gigantic mountains strewn with a palette of colored sands, sprawling unhedged, uncivilized desert land abundant with wildlife. The snow peppered mountains and the meadows of colorful flowers. The painted skies mirror imposes them in the clear waters of the Pangong Lake, Tsomoriri Lake and Tsokar lake. The best of land and yet offering sky touching experiences as Leh has the world’s three highest motor able passes offering thrilling journeys. Be it the culture, people, or places- Leh, is a barren yet mystic beauty, which you would understand as you watch the golden colors of sunlight painting the land.

Leh, the capital of Ladakh, drawing tourists from world over, situated at a height of 3505 meters towards the eastern part of Jammu and Kashmir situated at the extreme northern end of India, quaintly lying in the laps of mighty Himalayas has a lot to showcase. Leh, is a kaleidoscope of panoramas, unfathomed valleys, azure skies, oasis, barren mountains, clear waters and golden dusted sands. The region is watered by the Zanskar River, which flows into the Indus River just below. Leh is a divine experience, satiating a holistic approach towards spiritual, historical, material and adventure front. The Ladakhi capital is laden with plethora of monasteries and ruined palaces. The architecture is a maze of mud-brick walls dressed in colorful intricate designs. The stupas stand stark white furling the colorful prayer flags. The huge buildings dominate the golden desert sands and remain a pride of Ladakh. The Tibetan-Buddhist culture rules here. The monasteries are living examples of the erstwhile era; holding secrets and historical significances.

As one approaches Leh for the first time, via the sloping seep of dust and pebbles that divide if from the floor of the Indus Valley, one will have little difficulty imagining how the old trans -Himalayan traders must have felt as they plodded in on the caravan routes from Yarkhand and Tibet: a mixture of relief at having crossed the mountains in one piece, and anticipation of a relaxing spell in one of central Asia's most scenic and atmospheric towns.


The geography of Leh will surely keep you bolted, but for the history seeking fraternity here is some information on Leh. Indian King Sengge Namgyal who ruled Ladakh during 17th century and during whose rule Ladakh was at its greatest shifted his court from Shey to Leh. Leh in India became the regional capital and very soon the town blossomed into one of the busiest markets on the Silk Route. During the 1920s and 1930s, the broad bazaar that still forms its heart received more than a dozen pony- and camel-trains each day. Leh's prosperity, managed mainly by the Sunni Muslim merchants whose descendants live in its labyrinthine old quarter, came to an abrupt end with the closure of the Chinese border in the 1950's. However its fortunes begin to look up after India rediscovered the hitherto forgotten capital's strategic value after two wars in quick succession with Pakistan. Today, Khaki-clad Jawans (soldiers) and their families from the nearby military and air force bases is the mainstay of the local economy in winter, when foreign visitors are few and far between.


Indian government's decision in 1974 to open Ladakh to foreign tourists was a major shake-up. From the start, Leh bore the brunt of the annual invasion, as busloads of backpackers poured up the road Srinagar. Twenty or so years on, though the main approach is now via Himachal Pradesh rather than Kashmir, the summer influx shows no sign of abating. Leh India has doubled in size and is a far cry from the sleepy Himalayan town of the early 1970's. During July and August tourists stroll shoulder to shoulder down its main street, most of whose old style outfitters and provision stores have been squeezed out by Kashmiri handicraft shops, art emporiums and Tibetan restaurants. We would be covering Leh, TSO Kar Lake, Pangong TSO, Hanle, Lungsar, Puga Valley, Polokongala Pass (Tso Moriri), Taklanga La Pass and Rumtse Valley.
Target Species

Partridges, Finches, Golden Eagle, Vultures, Accentors, Black Necked Cranes, Great Horned Lark, Little Owl, Tibetan Wolf, Sand Fox, Red Fox, Palla’s Cat, Tibetan Gazelle himalayan Marmot etc

Scheduled dates

10th – 19th July 2018 (9 nights 10 days)

Day 1: Arrive in Leh from Delhi
Most of the flights reach Leh by mid-morning and we straight away head to the comfort of our hotel and freshen up. Post lunch we rest our body letting it acclimatize for the high altitude. Evening can be spent exploring the Leh market followed by dinner and discussion on the next 12 days plan. We retire early for the bed so that we are all set for next day’s session.

Day 2: Birding around Leh Outskirts
Early Wakeup call followed by Tea / Coffee and head birding around the Sindhu Ghat Area. Visit Hemis Monastery, Rancho’s school and Shey palace during the day. Birding at Shey Marshes in the second half and return to the hotel for hot cup of coffee and discussions. Complete the dinner by 8:30 PM and retire early for the day.

Day 3: Travel to Spangmik (Pangong TSO)
Early Wakeup call followed by Tea / Coffee, we will start for Spangmik with packed breakfast, birding at Shey Marshes on the way. The drive to Spangmik would take around 5-6 hours with mostly good roads throughout and we would be stopping to enjoy the breath-taking landscape along the drive and look for photo opportunities. Afternoon birding will be at the Pangong Lake shore.

Day 4: Travel to Hanle (via Maan, Chushul)
We will start the day early after Tea / Coffee and refresh as the drive to Hanle takes about 7-8 hours and since we would be stopping for photography on the way the entire drive takes anywhere between 10-12 hours. We start driving eastwards along the Pangong Lake via Man village and Meraks village by the bank of Pangong which offer excellent opportunities for photography. Reach Hanle by evening and retire early to bed post dinner.

Day 5: Hanle Grounds
The wakeup call will be 3:30 AM so that we can start our day by 4:30 AM hitting the Hanle Grounds (Stony area) which offer excellent photography opportunities of Red Foxes, Ground Peckers and variety of Finches. Post breakfast at 9:30 we would rest until lunch time and resume photography at 2 PM. The afternoon sessions will be around the Gompa Monastery and Nomad areas. Spend the evening discussing the sightings, planning for the next day and sessions on post processing until dinner.

Day 6: Nomad Area, Palla’s Cat and Eurasian Eagle Owl area
We stick to the same schedule as previous days and today will be heading to Palla’s Cat and Eurasian Eagle Owl sites followed by Nomad Tents site; this site would offer great views of the Nomad area as well as getting to know the Nomadic life and photographing the magnificent landscapes. Spend the second half at the Black Necked Crane site which also offers Woolly Hares. Return to hotel by 6 PM and spend the evening relaxing and savor the ladakhi cuisines.

Day 7: Tso Kar Lake

We start the day at 6 AM with Tea / Coffee and refreshments and start our drive towards Tso Kar Lake via Puga Valley, Polokongkala Pass and Thukjay. We would be stopping for photography at Puga and Hot springs area looking for some rare finches like Brandt’s, Great Rose finch, Tibetan snow finch and Mongolian snow finches. These areas also habituated by Horned Larks, Little Owls, Marmots and Tibetan wild asses. Reach Tso Kar by evening and retire early for the day post dinner.

Day 8: Tso Kar Grounds

We will be following the previous day’s schedule and will be spending the day photographing Tibetan Argali, Barhals and Ibexes. This includes both high altitude and birding at the Tso Kar grounds. Return to hotel by 6 PM and spend the evening discussing and reviewing images, planning for the remaining days and also sessions on post processing.

Day 9: Tso Kar - Leh

This is our last day of the tour where would begin birding at Tso Kar Grounds at 6AM and then travel to Leh via Taklang La Pass and Rumtse Valley. Taklang La offers good opportunities for photographing high altitude birds like Tibetan Snowcock, Golden Eagle and Vultures (Himalayan & Bearded). Reach Leh by evening. Some last-minute shopping at Leh Market if time permits and retire for the day post dinner.

Day 10: Leh to Delhi

After an early breakfast we check out and head to Airport for flight to Delhi after greeting our guides and drivers who guided us throughout the trip.

Comfortable Accomodation on Twin Sharing Basis

Things to carry

Telephoto lenses – preferably above 400 mm
Macro lenses - if you have it
Carry fully charged batteries for your camera / flash.
Carry battery charger. Carry extra pack of camera batteries
Carry backup memory cards / HDD storage drives, Laptop
Carrying a Tripod is a must for all bird photography workshops
Carry a big towel / cloth to protect your gear from dust
Carry a big cloth / bandanna / scarf to protect you from the dust
Warm clothes, gloves for the chilly early mornings.
Sun screens are very important
It is advisable to carry basic first aid along with you.
Please carry Odomos to keep you protected from mosquito bites.
Carry a pair of good binoculars

Shivayogi is an IT Services industry veteran with over 18 years experience and holds a Bachelors degree in Computers. He has traveled extensively across the globe as part of his career and is now based in Pune. His love for nature started during the college days and enjoys spending time in the serenity. A visit to photography exhibition in 2014 ignited the hidden passion for nature & photography and kept growing as the years have passed. He enjoys photographing birds and mammals and has traveled across the country in search of subjects. His work is regularly featured at various exhibitions that include Kirloskar Vasundhara, PPL Kalakriti, DCP Annual Exhibitions to name a few. He is associated with the group as Group Leader-Team DCP Pune

Rs 65000 per head inclusive of all taxes

Cost includes

1. Twin sharing accommodation for 9 nights.
2. Veg and non-veg breakfast, lunch and dinner during the stay.
3. All park charges, entry fee etc.
4. All transfers (Leh to Leh) by Toyota Innova (3 persons per Innova)
5. Services of a professional English-speaking tour driver/guide throughout trip
6. Mentoring by DCP skipper throughout the trip
7. All Taxes and service charges.

Cost does not include:

1. Flights + Taxes
2. Travel and Personal accident insurance
3. Tips and Personal Expenses such as bar, tips / gratuities to Guides
4. Mineral Water, Soft Drinks, Laundry Charges, Phone Calls, Tips etc.
5. Any kind of insurance, Medical or/and Emergency Charges.
6. Any extra meals not included in the above itinerary.
7. Cost of foreign exchange for personal expenses
8. Excursions not in the above itinerary

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