In January I was in India, photographing in the desert Kutch, wild Kanha National Park and along the lush Kerala coast; I transitioned from that subtropical clime to snowy Yellowstone National Park. February took me back to India’s remote Ladakh region in a quest for snow leopards; hiking every day at high altitudes I lost seven pounds and found the cats extraordinarily difficult to photograph, but all in all it was a rewarding return to the High Himalaya.
I can say without reservation that this trip to Ladakh’s Hemis National Park was a great return to the Himalayas. I found the snow leopards extraordinarily difficult to photograph at close range. And yet with time and serendipity it is quite possible a snow leopard could walk directly through camp. Unfortunately, we experienced neither. We literally worked our butts off. I lost about 7 pounds in a week, hiking the trails every day at elevations between 12 and 14,000 feet. The dance ceremony was at the Likir Monastery, near Leh. Held annually, it commemorates the “letting go” of the previous year’s hardships. While at times disappointing, on a whole, the trip was fascinating and ultimately rewarding.
Nestled in the Indian Himalayas Ladakh is one of the best areas to see the elusive snow leopard. I am also getting to know more about the people who live here, and taking in the spectacular scenery and other wildlife.
The first couple days we spent in Leh getting acclimatized to the high altitude before heading out on our snow leopard expedition. The city and the surrounding valley and mountains are home to many imposing palaces and monasteries.