The Himalayan Brown Bear Expedition

10 Nights 11 Days | The Mountains of Ladakh 

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Summer arrives slowly in the Himalayas. The blankets of snow retreat and life awakens in the mountains once more. The hills and valleys of Western Ladakh are soon carpeted in green. The changes in the weather awaken more than just plants and flowers from the winter slumber. Sometime around March, India’s largest land carnivore, the Himalayan Brown Bear shrugs off the final stages of hibernation and steps out in search for food. Famished, its hunt begins.

 

We arrive when the biting cold has passed, and the Himalayan summer is in full swing. The bears and their newborn cubs should be well fed. The slopes of Dras will be covered in green, and several species of small and large furry animals will be up and about. The cold deserts of Ladakh, however, remain barren. But here too, life thrives. Our expedition takes us to Wari La which is the 4th highest mountain pass in the world, where we look for birds and mammals like the fox, bharal, Golden Eagle and others. Finally, we drive south to an extension of the high-altitude Tibetan plateau, Changthang, marked by vast highlands and giant lakes.

Highlights:

 

  • Explore three geographically and culturally distinct regions over 11 days

  • Naturalists will lead this trip and be your guides throughout this expedition

  • Local experts and professional spotters will enhance your experience with their insights and in-depth knowledge of the region and wildlife

  • A chance to spot the elusive Himalayan Brown Bear

  • Opportunities to spot the Long-Tailed Marmot, the Himalayan Fox and more in the grassy slopes of Drass

  • Day trip to Wari La in the Ladakh Range to spot birds, Foxes, Bharal, etc.

  • Explore stunning Tso Kar on the Changthang Plateau and spot Kiangs, Black-Necked Cranes, etc.

  • Long drives through Ladakh with regular stops for birding, wildlife spotting and stunning landscape views 

  • Stay and eat with locals, understand the different cultures of each region and see how the land influences all life here

Expedition Itinerary:

 

Day 1: Arrive and acclimatize

 

Enjoy spectacular views on your one-hour flight from the Indian capital Delhi to Ladakh’s capital Leh. On arrival, our representatives will meet you and transfer you to your 3-star or similar hotel in Leh.

 

Today, there will be no activity. You will rest and acclimatise to the rarefied oxygen levels of this high-altitude region. Sit, lie down, stare into the distance and enjoy a lot of nothing. We'll see you in the evening for introductions and briefing.

 

Meals included: Lunch and Dinner.

 

 

Day 2: Leh – An introductory tour

 

Today will also be a relaxed day. After breakfast at the hotel, step out on a guided tour through the ancient bazaar and alleys of Leh. Visit Sankar Monastery and end the day with a visit to Shanti Stupa / Peace Pagoda built on a hill-top. Enjoy spectacular views of the town, surrounding mountains and the Indus Valley just before the sun sets.

 

Spend the night at the hotel.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

 

 

Day 3: Day trip to Wari La

 

Set out early in the morning for a day trip to Wari La. Located only a couple of hours north east of Leh. Wari La, the highest mountain pass in Nubra valley is situated at an elevation of 17,427ft (5312m). There’s not much except the wind, the mountains and prayer flags here. Except, of course, the animals and birds that call these mountains home. We’ll spend the day scouting the area for mammals like foxes, marmots, bharal and more. Birds that could be spotted here include the Himalayan Griffon, Golden Eagle, Bearded Vulture and many more.

 

Later, we’ll return to Leh and spend the night at the hotel.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea with snacks, Dinner.

 

 

Day 4: Drive to Dras

 

Leave early after breakfast for a long drive to western Ladakh. We’ll spend most of the day on the road and stop whenever there’s a sightseeing or wildlife spotting opportunity. On the way, you’ll notice the land slowly changing from the stark beauty of a high-altitude desert, to lush green. When we arrive at Kargil, we’ll transfer to another private vehicle that will take us to our Brown Bear Lodge at Dras.

 

Spend the night at the Lodge.

 

Accommodation at the lodge is simple but comfortable. While running water will be available, all hot water will be brought to you on request in a bucket. Please also note that there will be one bathroom shared between two rooms. Lavatories are Indian style closets or portable WC chemical toilets.

 

Our team members here have been exploring and studying wildlife around western Ladakh for many years. They are also actively involved in local wildlife conservation, reducing human-animal conflict and promoting their region as a hub for quality tourism.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and tea with snacks, Dinner.

 

 

Day 5: Scouting for Brown Bears

 

Today we spend the day scouting the grassy slopes of the Dras region for brown bears. The Himalayan Brown Bear, a cousin of the American grizzly is one of 58 known subspecies from around the world. The Brown Bear as a group are the most widely distributed of all bears extending almost throughout the entire northern hemisphere in pockets of ideal habitat. In India, the Himalayan Brown Bear extend from the hills of the western Himalayas (except the cold deserts of Ladakh), all the way to the peaks around Kanchendzonga in the east. The bears occupy high-altitude pastures and shrub lands and usually avoid dense forests.

 

After a full day of scouting and tracking wildlife, we’ll retire to the lodge for the night.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea with snacks, Dinner.

 

 

Day 6: Wildlife around Dras

 

We head out in search of Brown Bears once more. On both, Day 5 and Day 6, we will also scout the area for all the other birds and animals that could be spotted in the region. Here, we have the chance to spot Tibetan Wolves, Snow Leopards (if we’re very lucky), Foxes and Long-Tailed Marmots.

 

After a full day of scouting and tracking wildlife, we’ll retire to the lodge for the night.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea with snacks, Dinner.

 

 

Day 7: Drive to Leh

 

Today we say goodbye to Dras and make our way back to Leh. On the way, we will stop at Kargil and change from one private vehicle to another as required by the unions of the region.

 

We get one night’s rest at our 3-star or equivalent hotel at Leh. Please use this time to rest, shower (after a couple of days), and prepare for the third leg of our expedition.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

 

 

Day 8: Drive to Tso Kar

 

Today we set off from Leh to the scintillating and serene Tso Kar. While on the road we'll stop at places of interest, for wildlife spotting or for breaks as recommended by the trip leader.

 

Tso Kar is a fluctuating salt lake situated in the Rupshu plateau and valley in the Changthang area of Ladakh. The lake itself is a thing of unparalleled beauty and the land is completely different from what you will observe at Wari La or Dras. Locally, the area is called Changthang by the Changpa – the nomadic people living on this plateau. The rare and expensive pashmina or cashmere products come from the goats bred by these people. This area also offers a phenomenal view of the night sky.

 

Check in to the local comfortable Homestay on arrival and spend the night there.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea with snacks, Dinner.

 

 

Day 9: Explore Tso Kar

 

We spend the day exploring the region and spotting wildlife. Here, we hope to spot the kiang (Tibetan Wild Ass), Eurasian Eagle Owl (difficult, as it is nocturnal), and the Pallas cat (if we are really lucky). This area is great for birding and a major highlight is the migratory Black-Necked Crane that arrives here to nest every year.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Tea with snacks, Dinner.

 

 

Day 10: Drive to Leh

 

Today we return to our comfortable 3-star hotel in Leh. After a long drive, we recommend you rest and enjoy your final night of this expedition.

 

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner.

 

 

Day 11: Fly away

 

Like all migratory birds, we too must fly away. We’ll transfer you to the airport for flight to your next destination.

 

Meals included: Breakfast.

Expedition Wildlife Highlights

Snow Leopard
Ibex
Pallas's Cat
Golden Eagle
Black-Necked Crane
Tibetan Wild Ass
Bearded Vulture
Long-Tailed Marmot
Show More

Inclusions:

 

  • Arrival assistance at Leh Airport

  • Airport transfers

  • All wildlife charges and permits

  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis or as specified

  • All meals as mentioned in the detailed itinerary

  • Spotting scope

  • 01 Helper/ Spotter

  • Sightseeing in Leh

  • Monastery entrance fees

  • English speaking professional wildlife guide 

 

Exclusions:

 

  • Any airfare

  • Any personal expenses, extra meals, starters and drinks (Alcoholic, Mineral, Aerated, etc.)

  • Any optional tours

  • Tips, Insurance, Laundry, Phone Calls

  • Services of vehicles on leisure days and after tour completion

  • Adventure activity costs (Pony ride, camel safari, rafting, paragliding, etc.)

  • Medical & travel insurance or expenses

  • Additional costs due to flight cancellations, roadblocks, natural calamities or nature’s fury

  • Anything not mentioned under ‘Inclusions’

 

Terms & Conditions

 

  • This tour is for wildlife enthusiasts or soon-to-be wildlife enthusiasts only

  • All travellers must be polite and respectful to others in the group and to their guides

  • The itinerary is flexible and subject to change depending on information received regarding movements of wildlife

  • All terms and conditions are subject to change without prior notice 

  • We’ll try and inform you in case anything changes because it's nicer to be transparent

 

Contact Us

explore@jokotta.com

+91-9969-792-759

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