Duration: 15 days
Best time: May - June and September-October
Ladakh is a bird watcher’s paradise. Some of the birds endemic to high altitude and cold temperate climates can only be found in Ladakh. Eastern Ladakh is the only breeding ground in India for the state bird of Jammu and Kashmir - the Black-Necked Crane. The region’s vastness and remoteness, combined with its difficult and limited accessibility, mean few have spent sufficient time studying the birds in Ladakh’s hostile valleys, hills and plains. However, Ladakh has a diverse avifauna lying as it does on the boundary of the Palearctic–Oriental zoogeographic regions, and partly within the Tibetan biome. Many species are breeding migrants and the region is an important staging post for birds crossing the mighty Himalayan range during their spring and autumn migrations. To date, around 310 species have been recorded in the region. Resident species are mainly altitudinal migrants, breeding at high elevations but descending in winter. Breeding summer migrants arrive during April and May, and most have departed by the end of August. A few species who breed mainly in the northern Palearctic arrive between October and early December to winter in Ladakh.
DAY 1: ARRIVAL IN LEH You will fly from New Delhi to Leh in the morning. You will spend the day in the hotel for bird watching and acclimatization. One can expect to see many species including the following: Black Redstart, Common Kestrel, Black-Billed Magpie, Mountain Chiffchaff, Black Kite, Red-Billed Chough, and Great Tit. Overnight (Hotel).
DAY 2: BIRD WATCHING AROUND INDUS BELT MARSHES This area is a must for any bird watcher in Ladakh, and can be reached by following the river upstream from the bridge at Choglamsar, 7 km east of Leh, or by continuing to Shey and turning right off the main road at the fishponds, 18 km east of Leh, passing through the marshes and crossing the irrigation channels to reach the river. We will explore the wetlands and riverbanks along the Indus, including the thick buckthorn patches, the shoreline, and grazing land. These areas are excellent for spotting many species including: Bluethroats Lusciniasvecica, Water Pipits Anthusspinoletta, Rosy Pipits Anthusroseatus, the Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolusoriolus, the Ibisbill Ibidorhynchastruthersii, the Hobby Hypotriorchis in summer; or the Water Rail Rallus aquaticus, White-Winged Redstart Phoenicuruserythrogaster and Streaked Rose finch Carpodacusrubicilloides in winter. Overnight (Hotel)
DAY 3-4: NUBRA VALLEY We shall leave Leh in a northerly direction, cross over the world’s highest motorable pass (18,380 ft/5,700m), then descend for (2,500m) into the Nubra Valley. A small area, between Hundar in the west to Panamik in the north, is accessible to tourists. Here there are spectacular sand-dunes, small swamps and extensive buckthorn stands which abound with birds, including a variety of shrikes, warblers (including the Whitebrowed Tit Warbler Leptopoecilesophiae), chats and finches alongside waders, ducks and raptors. Few birdwatchers have visited this place, and there is obvious potential for making exciting discoveries. Mammals include fox, pika, lynx, Bactrian camel (semi-feral), and this is the only place in India where cape hares (race tibetanus) can be found. Overnight (Hotel)
DAY 5: BACK TO Leh After breakfast you will drive back to Leh. Overnight (Hotel)
DAY 6-8: LEH-RUMBAK VALLEY – LEH About 10 km west of Leh, a small side-valley off the main Indus Valley leads south to Rumbak. The willow and buckthorn covered slopes hold many bird species, whilst towards the Ganda-La Pass, higher-elevation species are found. Sought after birds include: Brown and White-Throated Dippers Cincluscinclus, the Wallcreeper, the Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos, the Lammergeier Gypaetus barbatus, the Himalayan Snowcock Tetraogallushimalayensis, the Rock Bunting Emberizacia, rose finches and mountain finches. It is an excellent place to find mammals, notably urial, blue sheep around Rumbak, and argali above Yurutse. Overnight (Camp)
DAY 9-10: TSOMORIRI The largest lake in the Rupshu Plains, situated at an altitude of (4,650m), can be reached in a day’s spectacular drive from Leh through beautiful panoramic scenery. The lake is the best-known and most important breeding ground for the Bar-Headed Goose Anser indicus in Ladakh. Black-Necked Grebe Podicepsnigricollis and the Great Crested Grebe P. cristatus can both be found there. Once an Arctic Skua Stercorariusparasiticus was seen chasing a Brown-Headed Gull Larusbrunnicephalus over the lake! Accentors, rose finches and mountain-finches can be seen in the peashrub-covered northern slopes. Mammals include blue sheep, fox, weasel, marmot, woolly hare and pikas. Overnight (Camp)
DAY 11-13: PUGA - LAKE TSOKAR After breakfast we will drive to the lake in the morning across Polo Kongka Pass. One can see large flocks of Brandt’s Mountain Finch. As you enter the lake area, you may see Black-Necked Cranes, Common Redshanks, and lots of other waders and waterfowl. Tibetan wild ass, marmot, and Stolizka’s mountain vole are mammal species that are commonly seen. Explore the area for Little Owl, Tibetan Sandgrouse, and Plain-Backed Snowfinch. Horned Lark, Hume’s Short-Toed Lark and the Tibetan Snow finch are some of the common birds here. We shall have an afternoon visit to a fresh water lake to observe Avocet, the breeding colony of Crested Grebe, Ruddy Shelduck, and more. Black-Necked Cranes may be spotted too. Overnight (Camp)
DAY 14: TSO KAR - LEH After morning bird watching at Tso Kar, we shall drive to Leh via the Tanglang Pass (17500ft/5303m) stopping on route for bird watching. We will arrive in Leh in the afternoon. Overnight (Hotel)
Day 15: FLY TO DELHI You will have an early morning transfer to the airport to catch your flight for Delhi with sweet memories and a love of Ladakh.
LAND COST: on request
- Hotel/homestay accommodation with 3 meals (lunch mostly packed) on a twin sharing basis.
- 1 spotting scope for the group and 1 set of binoculars for the group
- All monastery entrance fees, wild life fees.
- Assistance of birding guide throughout the tour.
- All transportation.
- Protected Area Permit PAP to Nubra, Pangong, Tsomoriri, Hanle, and Cushul.
- Oxygen cylinder in car.
- Airport transfers.
- Individual scopes and binoculars, cameras and battery backups, helper to carry camera, personal drinks.
- Medical and evacuation insurance
- Miscellaneous expenses and tips for the staff
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks
- International/Domestic Air ticket to and from Delhi.
- A single supplement.
- Laundry and other services not mentioned in the package.
- Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage loss insurance.
- Charges incurred as a result of delays, natural calamities beyond the control of Yama Adventures.
CANCELLATIONS: A 20% cancellation fee is applied if cancelled 60 days prior to departure. Cancellations within 60 days are non-refundable.
WHAT TO BRING:
- Warm clothing for mornings and evenings at high altitude places.
- Individual binoculars and spotting scopes (not compulsory if you don't own one). Good zoom cameras.
- Birds of the Indian Subcontinent book.
© Yama Adventures, 2019.