Life persists in Ladakh, despite the geographically inhospitable terrain of Ladakh - barren and arid for most of the year and cloaked in snow through winter. The survivors are diverse and unified by their ability to survive such terrain. 

From the Bactrian double humped camels to the mysterious and solitary snow leopard, Ladakh is host to some of the most versatile survivors. 


The Snow Leopard, the 'grey ghost' of the Himalayas, is the main attraction for wildlife enthusiasts in Ladakh. Renowned for its reclusion, the 200 odd snow leopards of Ladakh are becoming increasingly tolerant of people. Each year sightings are breaking records, partly because of conservation efforts, partly thanks to the cunning of wildlife travel agents and their increasingly innovative ways to spot and track.

Snow Leopards cover vast, unforgiving terrain - stalking across glaciers on their own, for much of the year at extremely high altitudes. Males track the scents of females and they unite in February and March for mating season at lower altitudes which provides a good opportunity for sighings. 

 In Ladakh, snow leopard sighting season is from October to mid March.  



Between the Indus valley, Hemis National Park, the wetlands of Tso Miriri and surrounding high altitude lakes, Ladakh has a surprising and varied selection of mammals. 

Amongst these are the exceptional Bactrian double humped camels. They were not native to Ladakh but were used widely along the silk route as well as by the armies of Alexander the Great. Their extra hump provides them with extra stamina which was useful in trade and war. 10 minutes walk from camp is a Double Humped Camel Conservation project run by the government. The camels are treated well and there are very few tourists so you can experience them without any distraction. 

The Hemis National Park is home to the most varied selection of species including Marmots, Blue Sheep (neither blue nor sheep), Red Foxes, Ibex, Tibetan Antelopes, Pallas's cats, Tibetan Wild Asses amongst others. 

The Markha Valley trek is the perfect way to experience this wildlife amidst breathtaking scenery.


Despite the territory, Ladakh has an incredible diversity of birds, with over 300 species recorded. Many are breeding migrants and so their presence is highly seasonal while others breed at high altitude and descend in winter when Ladakh faces brutal temperatures as cold as -30 degrees.

The Indus River, Tso Miriri and the other high altitude water bodies give life to the birds of Ladakh. The patch of the Indus river between Choglamsar and Shey that our camp lies on is regarded as one of the best birdwatching spots. The best months for birding in Ladakh are March to May when the breeding summer migrants arrive but you can expect a wide variety of bird species in Ladakh until October/November. 

Ladakh was shut off for many years to outsiders and even then it remained fairly inaccessible. Otto Pfister recently provided the first comprehensive inventory of wildlife in his excellent book Birds and Mammals of Ladakh. Below is an exhaustive list of birds spotted in the region by Otto Pfister from the link here