Photo tours

20150428 2244 Darrenjew E1434591493334

IN SEARCH OF THE MYSTERIOUS SNOW LEOPARDS OF LADAKH

A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY
WITH CANON MASTER PHOTOGRAPHER DARREN JEW

March 1 – 10 2016, with Darren Jew, Emma Rowan-Kelly and Wentworth Travel

Join Darren Jew and the best Snow Leopard naturalist spotters and guides in this spectacular mountain region for our intensive photographic journey in search of the magnificent and elusive Snow Leopards.

Receive expert tips and mentoring from Darren in this small group journey of just 9 guests.

In the cold winter of Ladakh, we provide you a unique opportunity to see the elusive and endangered snow leopards. A team of seasoned snow leopard spotters and naturalists will guide you into the inner world of snow leopards. We take you to the Hemis High Altitude National Park (Stok Valley) and Ulley villages, some of the best snow leopard habitats in Ladakh. Whilst we can’t promise sightings, you will have the best chances during this prime mating season, with our exceptionally talented Snow Leopard spotters and expert guides.

OUR  ITINERARY

Day 1 – Arrive in Leh, the capital of Ladakh (11,500 ft), you will be met and transfered to your hotel with our small group. Rest the entire day in hotel for acclimatization. In the evening we will give you a briefing about the wild snow leopard trek. Overnight in hotel.

Day 2– (Short distance sightseeing) On this day, if you acclimatize and feel good, we take you, after breakfast, to the world famous Thiksay monastery, and subsequently bird-watching in Shey marshes. In the evening walk to Shanti stupa and/or Leh market. Overnight in hotel.
Day 3– Leh to Stok valley inside Hemis National Park. After breakfast, we drive to Stok valley (1 hr), Stok valley is a prime snow leopard habitat in the Hemis National Park. Enroute, you will also see snow leopard signs such as marking-sites, scrapes, pugmarks and droppings along the road side. Overnight at Shan camp

Day 4-8– (4 full day and 2 half days in the field)
Wildlife viewing: Explore the side-valleys, looking for snow leopards and their prey species like the blue sheep. Hemis National Park is the only place on earth where four mountain ungulates: blue sheep, Tibetan argali, Asiatic ibex and Ladakh urial, occur together. Himalayan weasel and Royle’s pikas are some of the small mammals that are frequently seen. Return to camp for steaming hot tea and chit-chat. Overnight at Shan camp.

Every day we hike into the main valley to look for snow leopards and blue sheep along with other small mammals. The crew will bring lunch and hot tea in the field, we don’t have to come back at the camp for lunch. The itinerary is flexible depending on the movements of the snow leopards. Our naturalist guide along with our spotter, look out for snow leopards and their prey all the time. The view of this dramatically stark landscape, and azure-sky pierced by pointed peaks, is spellbinding. Hemis National Park is also rich in avifauna. Look out for Golden Eagles, Bearded Vultures, Fire-fronted Serins, White-winged Redstarts, Robin Accentors, Brandt’s Mountain-finches, Common Rose finches, Himalayan Griffons, Himalayan Snow-cocks, Chukar partridges and Snow Pigeons. Overnight at Shan Camp.

Day 9– Stok to Leh: Departing after lunch.

Day 10– Depart from Leh to Delhi: Early morning transfer to Leh airport for your onward flight to Delhi.

EXPEDITION PRICES

Cost per person $3300USD. Deposit due upon booking $850USD per person. Please include your completed booking form and passport copy along with your deposit to secure your place.
Single supplement options to be advised upon request. If there is a substantial increase in fuel prices, park entry fees or government taxes we may be forced to increase this cost moderately.The deposit is non refundable. Final payments must be made within 120 days of departure. We will advise the exchange rate on the day of your payment.

THIS COSTING INCLUDES:

Airport transfers in Leh, hotel in Leh for 3 nights (with central heating), National Park fees, all local sightseeing & transportation (Innova), all camping Equipment including dining tent (with heating), toilet tent (dugout with seat) mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows, blankets & sheets, individual tents for guests, shower facilities, hot water bottles, expert photographic instruction and photo-guidance from Darren Jew, expert guiding and spotting, cook, local guide, spotter, helper crew, ponies to carry our luggage, a generator to charge batteries, a homestay, all food, drinking water. bird watching along the Indus, monasteries.

THIS COSTING DOES NOT INCLUDE:

International/Domestic flights, visas, vaccinations, tips, laundry, phone calls, hotel or transfers in Delhi.
PREPARATION:

Being prepared is key for this journey, a decent degree of fitness to deal with walking at altitude, there may be some steeper walks at times to reach these agile animals. Please understand we will be camping for much of the time in remote areas in basic conditions. The weather can be quite severe at this time so we recommend layers of good moisture wicking thermals with good wind and waterproof protection, temperatures can range from +3 degrees celcius to -10 degrees celcius overnight. Good quality moisture wicking socks and comfortable hiking boots. There are tripod climbing poles that can be bought in Australia and may be quite handy to bring.

–  Small day bag
–  Woolen cap/beanie
–  3-4 pairs of great socks
–  Water bottle
–  Sunglasses (polarized are best)
–  Gloves (outer and inner layer with a spare pair)
–  High neck cover
–  Comfortable trekking shoes (already broken in)
–  Down jackets are a great idea for lightweight warmth
–  Waterproof and windproof over pants and over jacket
–  Binoculars/scope


PLEASE NOTE

Due to the nature of this trip and the uncertainty of the path a snow leopard may take on any particular day, the day to day itinerary must remain flexible. The group should move according to the information of the staff and the local community informants gather on the sign of movements of the snow leopard. Weather conditions may also affect the placement of camp and daily movement. The following itinerary remains subject to alteration in the field as information and opportunities become available. The number of trekking days will remain the same, barring weather or other unusual circumstances that require a change.
GETTING HERE

Recommended flights with Jet Airways from Delhi to Leh for our group transfers in Leh:

9W2368 01 MAR DELHI TO LEH 0630 0755 9W2369 10 MAR LEH TO DELHI 0835 1005

TRAVEL PLANNING

We are happy to arrange other journeys in India/Nepal/Bhutan/Sri Lanka or elsewhere that you may wish to combine with this trip. We have excellent knowledge of this region and great local operators that we work with. We are a fully licenced travel agent and can find great fares in any class on your preferred airline.

You may also wish to join us for the Tigers & Elephants photographic journey with Darren Jew that will start on 12 March 2016, after incredible success in 2015 photographing tiger cubs, Darren is delighted to be returning for more tiger cubs in 2016!

Special combination rates will apply for attending both tours.

GROUP SIZE

Our maximum group size will be 9 guests plus Darren & the crew of 4. Emma Rowan-Kelly will join once the group size reaches 6 guests and above for photographic mentoring assistance and operations support. Our minimum group size is 4 guests.

VISAS

A visa for India is required for most travelers. We are able to assist in arranging this for you using our visa lodgement service by courier.

VACCINATIONS/MEDICATIONS

We recommend you see a travel vaccination doctor for up to date advice on what you need to obtain for this region and any other regions you plan to visit on this journey.

PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT

For Snow Leopards, who are often fairly distant to quite distant, the ideal lenses are long telephotos – we recommend a 500mm or longer prime lens. If you can also add a teleconverter, that is a great idea to increase the reach of your lens. If you don’t have a lens this long (or longer), you may be able to rent a lens from home. Otherwise, use a good quality 400mm lens or Canon’s great 100-400mm zoom lens. If you put these on a crop sensor camera body rather than a full frame, you will obtain more reach. You can also use teleconverters for the longest prime lens that you have, check the quality before using teleconverters on zoom lenses. For closer animals like the Blue Sheep and many other overall scenic shots like monasteries perched on crags in the distance, a 200-300mm is good to have. Ladakh is full of dramatically panoramic views and a wide-angle lens between 16-35mm is perfect. High powered binoculars are also great to have to enjoy watching action that may be a bit far to reach with your lenses. Please bring plenty of memory cards and batteries for your camera as we are in very remote areas, batteries may not hold much charge in such cold weather, so need to be stored carefully. Waterproof clear covers are a good idea for cameras. We are very happy to go over any equipment questions you have.

 
YOUR PHOTO-LEADERS

DARREN JEW

Australia’s Darren Jew has photographed the planet’s landscapes and wildlife from Antarctica to Zambia over his 30-year career – on mountain peaks, desert plains and beneath the Ocean’s surface.

After photography studies at the Queensland College of Art and work in darkrooms and commercial studios, Darren found his vocation at the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, where his photographic skill found harmony with his profound love of nature. The subsequent two decades have seen him continue pursue his passion for capturing and sharing the natural World, producing sought-after nature, travel and scientific images both above and below the water, exhibiting, undertaking commercial and magazine commissions and leading photography tours to the World’s great wildlife, landscape and marine destinations, including to Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic, across Africa, around Australia and into the Pacific.

Darren is the author of two books: “AUSTRALIA – reef, rainforest, red heart” and the Limited Edition title: Far&Wild SOUTH.  His images regularly appear in many magazines and books, he exhibits around Australia and his work is used by conservation organisations world-wide.  His client list is extensive and includes Australian Geographic; Sport Diver; National Geographic; CSIRO; Tourism Australia; Tourism Queensland; Greenpeace and WWF.

Darren’s unique vision has seen him named Canon/AIPP Australian Science, Environment and Nature Photographer of the Year in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2012 and again in 2013. In 2013 Darren was named a Canon Master and is a featured photographer in the new TV documentary series Tales by Light.

www.darrenjew.com

EMMA ROWAN-KELLY

Sydney-based photographer and travel professional Emma Rowan‐Kelly has a passion to capture all aspects of life on earth.

Through her photography Emma seeks-out moments that create a connection between her subject and the viewer, with an aim of encouraging empathy for the environment and for all those that share it.

Emma has journeyed to over 85 countries and territories during the past 15 years, including the high Arctic, Sub‐Antarctic, Iran, Bhutan, Colombia, Tibet, Galapagos Islands, Cambodia, Cuba & Nepal – locations that attract the curious explorer, fascinated by those paths less travelled.

Her best‐selling exhibition in 2011 “Innocent Arctic” was sponsored by National Geographic / Lindblad Expeditions and Wentworth Travel with 35% of profits donated to WWF Adopt a Polar Bear program. Emma has both a fine arts and travel profession background and is a former student of both the Sydney Institute of Photography and the National Art School. She is leading photography tours to Antarctica as well as other destinations in collaboration with Darren Jew. Emma is also working on her next solo exhibition, which will feature Daguerreotypes, the oldest form of photography.

You can see more about her on www.emmarowankelly.com or like her page on facebook ‐ Emma Rowan‐Kelly Photography.