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Snow Leopard Survey Expedition Nepal

Trip Title: Snow Leopard Survey Expedition Nepal

Trip Length: 16 Days

Trip Grade: B/C       [Grading Overview]

Country: Nepal

Area: Lapchi Kang and Gaurishankar Conservation Area

National Park: N/A       [Parks Overview]

Activity: Nature and Wildlife

Activity Grade: 4       [Grading Overview]

Special Focus: snow leopards

Months: April, May, September, October, November,

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Description:

Snow Leopard Survey Expedition Nepal

A trek to give a full experience of this visualy extraordinary and geographically isolated area, hugely rich in flora, wildlife and folklore, yet almost never visited by tourists or scientists. Lapchi Kang is a small Himalayan range lying like a twisted backbone jammed between the road to Tibet and the huge himalayan valley of Rowaling Himal. It is restricted and tucked away enough to be ignored by the tourists and yet not high enough to entice mountaineers. Somewhere in this isolated wilderness, Milarepa-an ancient Tibetan magician, went into retreat, lived in a cave, ate stinging nettles and slowly turned green! The maze of twisted hills, rock spires and sheer cliffs that make the landscape from Ama Bamare Himal to Lapchi Karhka gives the snow leopard a perfect habitat for survival. This Snow Leopard Survey Expedition Nepal follows the Tama Khosi river from Dolakha to Lamanabagar where we turn off the main trail and head up through dense bamboo and cloud forest to an isolated pocket of Lapchi Kang under the unclimbed rock spire of Ama Bamare and the awesome rock face of Cookur Raja Darra ( King Dog Ridge ). A unique opportunity and a chance to collect data on the snow leopard and its prey species- this area was briefly researched by George Schaller in the 1970s ( but at a lower altitude ) – and documented in his book `The Stones of Silence` – and has not seen much interest since. Participants on this trek will help in the ongoing gathering of data on the snow leopard – this will involve the collation of scat (for genetic analysis in the UK), tracks, prey species, kills, local knowledge and if the gods be with you a sighting! Topography, altitude, GPS readings and grid references will also be collected. All this information is collected and presented to The International Snow Leopard Trust. No special knowledge is required to join this trip – only enthusiasm, reasonable fitness and the ability to muck in with the blue space crew! Human / Wildlife conflict issues will also be looked at in this unique area. On December 4th 2009 Lapchi Kang was incorporated into the Gaurishankar Conservation Area making it a fully protected forest and Himalayan sanctuary. Snow Leopard Trust

Itinerary:

Tessa Mcgregor
Remember if you have a group of 6 or more we can arrange this trip for you on your prefered date during any of the available months listed.

Day 1.
Kathmandu – Shingati by private bus ( 5-7 hours ).

Camp by the Tama Khosi / Bigu Khola river junction ( 950m ).

Day 2.
Shingati – Mathale / Jagat village ( 1000m ).

Camp along the side of the the Tama Khosi gorge. The days trek passes through a steep sided wooded valley, across the Suri Dhoban suspension bridge where the Khare Khola joins, rushing down from southern side of Rolwaling Himal. Many birds can be spotted by the riverside.

Day 3.
Jagat – Lamabagar ( 1950m ).

We trek steeply up through the hanging vegetation of the rock gorge, passing the forboding canyon where the Rowaling Khola tumbles into the Tama Khosi at the Sherpa village of Simigaon ( high up above us ). We follow the white water of Tama Khosi as it falls down from the natural dam above at Lamabagar. Both Langur and Rhesus Monkeys frequent the crags on the Eastern side of the river.

Lamabagar has an old Tibetan Monastery with a bell and large prayer wheel. This Gopma is connected to the ones in the Tibetan Lapchi village 2 days walk up the valley on the border and the Sherpa Gompas in the Rolwaling Valley.

Day 4.
Lamabagar – Bamboo Forest ( 2900m ).

Lamabagar is a spread out Sherpa village in a basin that once was a glacial lake which burst its banks long ago ( too long for anyone to remember! ). This place has been marked for a hydro electric dam project, but due to the Maoist war in recent years no road was ever built to ferry materials; therefore, this area still has a chance for a proper survey for the ecological impact of such a project. We hope to have some influence through a trek survey such as ours to help gain protection of the surrounding area.

The trek takes us up an incredibly steep path through the bamboo forest, past a Lamas kharka ( A Lapchi village Lamas dairy kharka ) and into the damp cloud forest. This area has abundent sign of the Common Leopard and the beautiful national bird of Nepal – The Dharpi ( Blue Pheasant ).

We camp in the forest and will probably see hunters and plant collectors whom we can chat to about the flora and fauna.

Day 5.
Bamboo Forest Camp – Samling ( 3300m ).

This is a short day for acclimatisation. Samling is an old, abandoned village which was the captital of Dolakar District before the glacial lake broke its natural dam; afterwhich the capital was moved down on to the now empty lake basin and became Lamabagar. The village has a few broken walls and summer kharkas ( wooden herding shacks ), is overgrown but still recognisable as a village. The forest is thick and indisturbed here, full of rocky crags and steep streams. We survey around the campsite.

Day 6.
Samling.

We survey the forest below and above Samling for signs of wildlife. The Red Panda inhabits this terrain along with Himalayan Black Bear, Martin. Barking Deer and Himalayn Tahr.

Day 7.
Samling – King Dog Kharka ( 3950m ).

A steep trek through the forest, across fast streams and into the timber line where the trees stop and the alpine juiper and rhrododendrom thickets begin. We camp under the terriying sheer rock face of Cookur Raja Darra ( King Dog Ridge ) which ends in the mountain of King dog – it actually looks like a savage dog outline sitting and gaurding the enclave of Lapchi Kang! We survey for the remainder of the day. Herders may be present here.

Day 8.
King Dog Kharka – Saart Patri Camp ( 4100m. )

We follow the vegetation and small river until the high alpine pasteurs unfold. We camp under the peak of Saart Patri ( 5328m – Saart Partri means Seven Peaks ). Blue Sheep ( Noor in Tibetan ) inhabit the crags high above us along with Lammergeiers

Day 9.
Saart Patri Camp – Ama Bamare Base Camp ( 4500m ).

We follow the Tibet / Nepal border under the walls of the Lapchi Kang range. Ama Bamarie is a huge unclimbed rock pinnacle (5940m ). This is the domain of the snow leopard ( Chengu in Tibetan ) and now we look for signs. We are sandwiched between Saart Partri/ Ama Bamarie and King Dog. Blue Sheep, Tahr, Musk Deer, Martin and Pika are all the prey of the snow leopard. Hunting and trapping have flourished here unabated for centuries; however, due to an extemely low human population the wildlife has managed to survive enough to be still viable. Hunting is not done with high powered rifles and telescopic sights – here vine and string snares are used and occasionally a single shot, antique rifle.

Day 10.
Ama Bamarie – King Dog Khola ( 3700m ).

We camp along the shore of this furious glacial stream with huge dense forests and sheer rock above us. Surveying is good with the soft sand making excellent pug impressions.

Day 11.
The campsite moves a few hundred meters up the river slopes to a summer kharka ground where we will meet hunters and herders ( no more than 10 people ) to discuss the changing wildlife numbers. Those who have adventure and steel legs may day trip up a small track etched into the sheer cliff of King Dog Ridge for amazing views of Lapchi village, Choba Bamarie, Gaurisankar and Tibet – A 5 hour slow belly turning trek!! We may see large birds of prey and Himalayn Tahr – oh and our feet!

This route was an old smuggling route out of Tibet – first for gold, then refugees and then fighters returning to Tibet to fight the Chinese and again refugees – these days it is not used.

Day 12.
River Slope – King Dog Kharka ( 3950m ).

A day trip across a different pass to have amazing views of Ama Bamarie and Gaurisankar ( 7135m ) and still have time for snow leopard surveying!

Ama Bamarie means Mother mountain and local folk lore tell of other peaks ( Deodunga, King Dog, Kalinchowk, Saart Patri, Konsu ) and a holy lake ( Thabu Phokari ) – we can learn of their myths and relationships from the locals. Gaurisanka is a very holy mountain for the Rowaling Sherpas.

Day 13.
King Dog Kharka – Lamabagar.

A long way down through the forest!

Day 14.
Lamabagar – Gongar village

Day 15.
Gongar village – Shigati.

Day 16.
Shigati – Kathmandu by private bus.

We can have an extra day at Borderlands Resort to relax on the return as an extra option with rafting back towards KTM, and a trip to experience the Tiger Reserve at Chitwan National Park.

This trip can be extended over the Tasi Lapche pass in the Rolwaling Himal into Everest (from Lamabagar on return journey ) – making for an extra 12 – 14 days ( picks up on Rowaling Trek day 4 ).

Price:

In a group of 6 – 12 ( 6 minimum )

1900 per person.

Includes: Private transport to and from the trek ( KTM – KTM ), airport pick-up and drop, all food on trek ( three meals a day – healthy local cuisine ), porters and their food and equipment, tents, cook, guide / translator and all their equipment, Wildlife Zooloigist with survey forms; one GPS, binoculars, digital camera and laptop, Mountain Rescue Guide with equipment, medical kit, permit + 2 nights 3* hotel plus breakfast in KTM before departure and 1 night plus breakfast after trip

Does not include: International flight, visa, rescue insurance, sleeping bag and all your personal equipment trekking gear / clothing, camera, binoculars etc, hotel in KTM (other than that specified above).
All outdoor gear including sleeping bags can be hired or bought in Kathmandu at prices significantly cheaper than Europe. We can arrange this for you.

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