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  • Photograph of Snow Leopard

    A Snow Leopard which ate two goats being kept in a stone hut, and which slept in the hut afterwards. The photograph was taken near Skardu in North Pakistan in late 1985 by Kazmi, a forestry officer, while Rob Roberts and Nigel Wheatley were taking a break from looking for Snow Leopards there! They were in India and Nepal, waiting for the snow to push them lower.

    NORTHWESTERN INDIA


    Best Wildlife in Northwestern India

    Mammals
    A good chance of Snow Leopard, Blue Sheep (Bharal), (Asiatic) Ibex, (Ladakh) Urial, Large-eared Pika and Red Fox. Also a chance of Wolf, (Tibetan) Argali, Himalayan Marmot, Mountain Weasel and Woolly Hare, and an outside chance of Pallas's Cat and Beech Marten.

    Birds
    Lammergeier, Ibisbill, White-browed Tit Warbler and Guldenstadt's Redstart, as well as Himalayan Snowcock, Chukar, Tibetan Partridge, Himalayan Griffon, Golden Eagle, Hill Pigeon, Alpine and Red-billed Choughs, Horned (Shore) Lark, Brown Dipper, Black-throated Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Brown and Robin Accentors, Fire-fronted Serin, Brandt's and Plain Mountain Finches, and Tibetan and White-rumped Snowfinches. Also a chance of Solitary Snipe, Eurasian Eagle Owl, Wallcreeper, Mongolian Finch, and Great and Streaked Rosefinches.

    Best Sites for Wildlife in Northwestern India

    Best Times for Wildlife in Northwestern India

    The best time to look for Snow Leopards is from mid-September to late March, although it can be extremely cold in December and January, and the very best time is February to mid-March, before their prey, mainly Blue Sheep and Urial, begin to climb higher in search of fresh grazing as the snow melts, and the second half of November when the prey usually descend to avoid fresh snow. Early March is also during the mating season when Snow Leopards call to each other, thus improving the chances of locating one. It is likely to be very cold at these times, with biting winds and snow may fall at any time, although for much of the winter it is often sunny. Nighttime temperatures are usually between -8°C and -15°C but can fall as low as -20°C hence essential equipment includes Thermarest mat, 4-season sleeping bag, down jacket, waterproof jacket, waterproof over-trousers, fleeces, thermal underwear and top quality walking boots.

    Recommended Books etc. for Northwestern India

    Birds and Mammals of Ladakh by O Pfister. OUP, 2004.

    Indian Mammals: A Field Guide by V Menon. Hachette, 2014.

    Field Guide to the Mammals of the Indian Subcontinent by K K Gurung and R Singh. Helm, 1998.

    Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2012.

    A Field Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by K Kazmierczak. Helm, 2008.

    Pocket Guide to the Birds of the Indian Subcontinent by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 1999.

    Field Guide to the Birds of Nepal by R Grimmett, and C and T Inskipp. Helm, 2000 (Second Edition due September 2016).

    Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide Volumes 1 and 2 by P C Rasmussen and J C Anderton. Lynx Edicions and Smithsonian Institution, 2012.


    Apps etc.

    eGuide to Birds of the Indian Subcontinent.

    Where to watch birds in Asia by N Wheatley. Helm, 1996.

    Don’t know which country/countries/regions to visit in Asia? Then it may be worth considering taking a look at this book, written by this website’s author. It is many years old of course but it still provides a starting point, an overview and a guiding light to the best birds and the best places to look for them in the region, and could save hours of searching for similar information on the internet. However, it is important to check more up-to-date sources for sites which have been opened up, sites and species which have been discovered, lodges that have been built etc. since the book was published.

    Trip Reports for Northwestern India

    Many trip reports, some for Northwestern India, are posted on the websites listed here. On some of these websites some reports are independent and some are posted by tour companies who organize tours to Northwestern India. These tour companies and others also post their own reports on their websites, which are listed under 'Some Organized Tours to Northwestern India' below.

    Local Guides and Tours in Northwestern India

    The costs of organized tours partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ. If you are travelling independently, employing such local guides will greatly increase your chances of seeing the wildlife you wish to see.

    Accommodation in Northwestern India

    Some Organized Tours to Northwestern India

    There are many tour companies who organize tours to see mammals, birds, other wildlife and other natural wonders. The cost of these tours vary considerably according to such variables as the airlines used, the number of days the tours last, the number of sites visited, the number of people in the group (an important consideration if you wish to see such wildlife as rainforest mammals and birds), the number of tour leaders, the standard of accommodation and transport, and the percentage profit the company hopes to make. Generally, where the number of days tours last and the number of sites visited are similar, the cheapest tours are those that use the cheapest airlines, accommodation and local transport, that have the largest groups with the least number of leaders, and that make the least amount of profit. The most expensive tours tend to be those which are exceptionally long, use the most expensive accommodation (ridiculously lavish in some cases, even for single nights) and which make the most profit. Some tour costs partly reflect the quality of the tour leaders. Some leaders are certainly better than others and many companies claim their leaders are the best but even the best rely at least to some extent on the exceptional skills of the local guides they employ.

    While tour companies organize tours with set itineraries many also organize custom tours for individuals and private groups who instead of taking a tour with a set itinerary want to follow their own itinerary to suit their own personal tastes, whether it be mammals, birds, other wildlife, other natural wonders or even man-made attractions, or a mixture of them all. Many organized tours with set itineraries are also fast-paced and target as many species as possible, whether they are mammals, birds or other wildlife or everything, which usually leaves little time to enjoy the best sites and individual species, but on a custom tour those taking part can specify the pace and the sites and species they wish to concentrate on. Custom tours also suit people who like to travel with people they already know, rather than with a group of strangers, and people with partners with different interests. Individuals and small groups will almost certainly have to pay more than the price of an organized tour with a set itinerary but a large group of friends may be able to travel for less than the price quoted for a set tour.

    Tour companies who run organized tours or can arrange custom tours to Northwestern India include the following.