Snow Leopard Trail

On the tracks
of the Snow Leopard

The spectacular Himalayan region of Nar Phu lies far off the beaten track on the border between Nepal and Tibet. This remote area, wedged between the eight-thousand-meter peaks of Annapurna and Manaslu, is considered one of the last intact habitats of the mystical Snow Leopard. That is why we have designed the Snow Leopard Trail here, following old trade routes. For itself a unique and spectacular trekking route, which becomes a lifetime adventure with our Fair Trails® Experiences!
Dive deep into the world of this mysterious beauty of creation with our Snow Leopard experts. You will gain a fascinating insight into the efforts to protect the Snow Leopard in its habitat and even become an active participant in the conservation project of the renowned Snow Leopard Conservancy. A journey that changes and impacts!

01 — THE MYTH

The ghost
of the mountains.

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What a beauty! About 300 Snow Leopards have their habitat in the Nepalese Himalayas. The Snow Leopard Trail project is dedicated to their protection. © Snow Leopard Conservancy

Beauty, strength and a hidden way of life have established the legendary aura of the Snow Leopard among the people of the Himalayas. A myth, which became famous in the so-called “western” countries by a book in the first place: In his world bestseller “The Snow Leopard,” American author Peter Matthiessen describes a zoological expedition through unknown western Nepal, with the goal of observing the Snow Leopard in the wild for the first time. He accompanies the famous zoologist George Schaller on the ultimately unsuccessful trek, with the Snow Leopard turning out to be a master of camouflage, merging with the landscape. Ghostly, elegant and always one step ahead. What Matthiessen does find, however, are the limits of his own ego. For this expedition to the highlands on the Tibetan border becomes for him a “pilgrimage of the heart,” in which he enters a world where dramatic forces of nature and the mysticism of Tibetan monks combine to create a reality in which the everyday left behind becomes unreal and the unreal becomes familiar.
A review (we really highly recommend the book, especially for those who want to embark on this great adventure) that reflects the spirit of this journey so unique. A book that will make you dive deep into the world of the Snow Leopard, without depriving him of his myth. While four out of five big cat species (tiger, lion, leopard and jaguar) find their constantly shrinking habitat in forests and savannahs, that of the Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) spreads over a vast area of all the high mountains of Central Asia. From the vast steppes of Mongolia to subtropical Bhutan. And in the midst of these seemingly endless expanses of rugged mountain ranges and plateaus, there are only 4.000 – 6.000 individuals of this fascinating big cat. No wonder why the Snow Leopard can be observed so rarely in the wild. And unfortunately this is also one of the reasons why its population is acutely endangered in this sparse habitat. In turn, this is a commission for all of us to do everything in our power, ensuring that not another magnificent creature on our planet is irretrievably lost.
The Snow Leopard. A symbol of the mystique of the wilderness. Noticeable but usually not visible. A trek in the footsteps of the Snow Leopard – “in the presence of the miraculous” – provides a profound and almost spiritual access to the wilderness. And thus serves the search of yourself and your own origins.
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Mysterious and unapproachable like its inhabitant, the Snow Leopard: the remote Himalayan region of Nar Phu north of the mighty Annapurna Himal. ©Tashi R. Ghale

A proud Snow Leopard mother with two cubs. Captured by our Snow Leopard expert Tashi R. Ghale. This moment changed his life! He has since dedicated it to this magnificent creature and its conservation. ©Tashi R. Ghale

Enjoying the evening sun and are still always alert: The imposing blue sheep. Because where there are blue sheep, the Snow Leopard is usually not far away! ©Tashi R. Ghale

The ghost of the mountains! This impressive paw print was taken by our Trail Scout Josef Essl. Knowing himself in the presence of the miraculous has given him goose bumps…. ©Trail Angels/Essl

02 — THE EXPERIENCE

A discovery trip
in the realm of the miraculous

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In a land before our time: the monastery of the proud fortress village of Phu. The explorations along the Snow Leopard Trail will give you profound insights into the world of the Snow Leopard and the so fascinating landscape he shares with the people © Trail Angels/Essl

THE ROUTE AND ITS VARIATIONS

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau

The Snow Leopard Trail leads through the mountainous regions of Nar Phu and Manang, wedged between the eight-thousand-meter peaks of Annapurna and Manaslu and situated on the border with Tibet. ©Trail Angels

DThe Snow Leopard Trail follows the tracks of the Snow Leopard through one of its preferred habitats in a remote mountainous region in northwestern Nepal. Its starting point at the famous Annapurna Circuit is reached by off-road vehicle in a breathtakingly spectacular drive. This takes you out of the subtropical hills of Nepal through the imposing and deeply cut Marsyangdi Gorge right into the glacier world of the Annapurna Himal. At Koto the trekking starts, which leads on old, often artfully arranged trade paths to the north, into the heart of the fascinating original region of Nar Phu. This barren high mountain landscape on the border with Tibet has an almost hypnotic effect on the trekker and forms one of the great retreats of the snow leopard. In a big loop, the trail then turns south again, crossing the 5.320m high Kang La, to then seek out more special snow leopard hotspots around Manang. The return trip to Kathmandu will be by off-road vehicle from Manang.

The original route of the Snow Leopard Trail just described can definitely be described as a challenging trek. For those who don’t dare or don’t want to cross the 5.320m high Kang La, we offer a less demanding and shorter variant, which follows the Annapurna Circuit on less trodden paths and then heads for the above mentioned Snow Leopard hotspots. This easier, but no less spectacular wildlife trekking in the shadow of the Annapurna glacier giants can be found in the Fair Trail Experiences “Snow Leopard Trail Annapurna” and “Snow Leopard Trail – Himalayan Catwalk” (see under Offers).

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THE FAIR TRAILS® EXPERTS

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
Our Fair Trails experts at the Snow Leopard Trail: Tashi R. Ghale (left) and Rinzin Lama (right) of the Third Pole Conservancy ©Trail Angels

The Snow Leopard Trail was developed with the support of the renowned Snow Leopard Conservancy and its legendary chairman, Dr. Rodney Jackson. In their projects and conservation efforts, the world’s leading snow leopard experts from California work in the field with wildlife biologists and nature photographers from Nepal. Probably the best known of these is Tashi R. Ghale from Manang. There will probably be no one in the entire Himalayas who has observed the Snow Leopard more often in the wild than Tashi. No wonder that Tashi has often been the focus of award-winning nature documentaries by National Geographic or Disney. Tashi has founded his own NGO, the Third Pole Conservancy, with which he, or one of his equally competent colleagues such as zoologist Rhinzin Lama, will accompany our Fair Trails Experiences. Because only with the accompaniment of our outstanding Fair Trails experts, the legendary universe of the Snow Leopard will be revealed to you. To let you actively participate in the conservation project of the Snow Leopard. Therefore, the Fair Trails Experts are our cornerstones that make the Fair Trails Experiences a unique life and travel experience!

THE PROGRAM AND ITS HIGHLIGHTS
Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
Fair Trails expert Tashi R. Ghale in front of one of the camera traps at the Snow Leopard Trail ©Trail Angels/Essl
Wildlife trekking on the Snow Leopard Trail is spectacular on any of the above mentioned variations. Whether the archaic mountain landscape of Nar Phu with its Tibetan-influenced villages, where time seems to stand still. Or Manang, situated in the shadow of the thousands of meters high towering north walls of the Annapurna Himal. Or the breathtaking panorama from the Kang La over summit seas of uncounted ice-armored Himalayan peaks. But beyond that a Fair Trails Experience becomes only something completely special, by the program highlights, which are offered by the accompaniment of the Fair Trails experts. For example, Tashi R. Ghale leads us to very special observation sites of the Snow Leopard. Like particularly often frequented marking points at territorial borders. Or to the camera traps of the monitoring project, where the new image material is immediately read out. It is always a very special moment to see if and when a Snow Leopard fell into the photo trap most recently. With every day of trekking you will sharpen your senses and become a skilled observer and tracker like Tashi. With a bit of luck you will also get to see many other fascinating species such as the blue sheep, the bearded vulture or jackals or wolves. You will also visit different project villages with our experts and discuss with farmers and Yak herders about their experiences with the snow leopard. And as a special emotional highlight in the selected village you will hand over Fox-Lights, which are financed from the travel revenue. In this way you become an active participant in this so important species conservation project.

The program highlights of the Fair Trails Experience at a glance:

  • Arrival through the imposing Marsyangdi Gorge
  • Wildlife Trekking through Nar Phu and around Manang
  • The Tibetan influenced highlands of Nar Phu
  • The glacier world of Annapurna Himal
  • The panorama from 5.320m high Kang La
  • Wildlife Watching with Fair Trails Expert Tashi R. Ghale
  • The read-out of camera traps
  • Visit of project villages and the partner school in Manang
  • Handing over lift traps to mountain farmers and yak herders

THE FAIR TRAILS® PROJECT

Panoramaweg Südalpen Panorama am Hochplateau
The Snow Leopard is not really afraid of this scarecrow. In the small mountain village of Julu, the Snow Leopard has already invaded several times. Here Fox-Lights are urgently needed for herd protection! @Trail Angels

Another indisputable cornerstone of the Fair Trails® Experiences, is to support very specific projects that have to do with the central story of each Fair Trail. The experts at the Snow Leopard Conservancy chose this project for us: The key to successful species conservation is peaceful coexistence between mountain dwellers and the Snow Leopard. Therefore it is important to keep the big cats away from the herds and villages. This is the only way to protect the important livelihood of farmers and herders, their herds of sheep, goats and yaks, from attacks. And to guide the Snow Leopard towards its natural prey, the Blue Sheep. Light traps, known as fox lights, have proven particularly effective in this regard. They are equipped with a motion detector and scare the stalking leopard with light signals.

Currently, an average of €100 per traveler goes to the Snow Leopard Conservancy, which is responsible for the purchase and fair distribution practice of the light traps. After all, an efficient and unbureaucratic contribution to the protection of the Snow Leopard is important to us.

Even the arrival to the Snow Leopard Trail is an adventure in itself! A dirt road winding from the subtropical hills of Nepal through the imposing Marsyangdi Gorge up into the glacier world of the Annapurna Himal ©Trail Angels

Nobody knows the Snow Leopard in the Himalayas as well as Tashi R. Ghale. The well-known nature photographer from Manang and his colleagues from the Third Pole Conservancy accompany the Fair Trails Experiences on the Snow Leopard Trail as experts. The guarantee for profound insights into the world of the Snow Leopard ©Trail Angels

A unique journey of discovery: Following the old, artfully laid out trade trails, the Snow Leopard Trail takes you into the realm of the Snow Leopard: The remote mountain regions of Nar Phu and Manang. @Trail Angels/Essl

Challenging: The Snow Leopard Trail can be hiked in several variations. The most challenging experience is the original route, which leads over the 5.320m high Kang La. Tashi R. Ghale with the Fair Trail Scouts at the pass. @Trail Angels/Essl

Always on the lookout: Fair Trails expert Tashi R. Ghale has spotted something suspicious on the steep slopes. I wonder if it’s a Snow Leopard? @Trail Angels/Essl

As part of the species conservation project, the Snow Leopard Conservancy has set up several photo traps along the Snow Leopard Trail. Reading these on site and waiting excitedly to see if a Snow Leopard has been captured is one of the unforgettable moments of this Fair Trails Experience. @Tashi R. Gale

Immerse yourself and learn to understand: Trail Angel Günter in one of the project villages on the Snow Leopard Trail. The key to understanding coexistence between locals and Snow Leopards lies in herd protection. After all, the sheep, goats and yaks form the livelihood of the mountain farmers in this little developed region. @Trail Angels

DTherefore, Fair Trails supports the purchase and distribution of light traps, so-called “Fox-Lights”, at the Snow Leopard Trail. To keep the Snow Leopards away from the herds. The handover of the Fox Lights to the project villages is one of the highlights of the Fair Trails Experiences at the Snow Leopard Trail. @Tashi R. Ghale

03 — THE OFFER

The Fair Trails® Experiences

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Snow Leopard Trail/Local Life Trail:
Media Explorer Tour

Guided trekking tour with media production

Start date: 03 November 2021
Duration: 17 days
Price: € 2.318,- p.P.

Snow Leopard Trail:
Variation – Annapurna Route
Fair Trails Experience®
Guided trekking tour

Start date: April 2022
Duration: 14 days
Price: ab € 2.122,- p.P.

Snow Leopard Trail:
The Original – Nar Phu Route
Fair Trails Experience®
Guided trekking tour

Start date: Oktober 2022
Duration: 19 days
Price: ab € 2.621,- p.P.

Snow Leopard Trail:
Himalayan Catwalk

Fair Trails Experience®
Trekking & Safari

Start date: November 2022
Duration: 18 days
Price: will be announced soon

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