Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Snow Leopard Expedition Day 4

Left the hotel at 7am and drove down to the Indus River where we were greeted by light rain and a strong wind, so we didn’t spend much time birding here. 

Looked like we were in for bad weather along the indus River

From here the road wound its way through a scenic, steep-sided valley and we began to realise the enormity of the task ahead. At Zinchan we reached the end of the road and then had to trek 4kms on a rough track through an amazingly steep-sided river valley. The scenery was very impressive and at this altitude of around 4000m we took it very slowly indeed.

The start of the Rumbak Gorge

Here's the horses carrying our camping gear & luggage

This is a view of the other side of the Rumbak Gorge

We made it to the camp around midday and found out that the 4 of us would have to share as there were only 2 tents, despite prior requests for us to have a tent each! I was not very happy at all..!! But there was nothing for it but to get on with it as we were in such an isolated location. Lunch was great and then we began scanning from the small meadow above camp. 

Here's the view all around us from our scanning place

Realisation set in as we now knew how practically near-impossible it is to find a Snow Leopard. We had a vast area of stark, grey mountains, slopes, scree etc to scan all around us. The weather was getting warmer this afternoon, despite having had snow, sleet and rain on the walk up the valley. So we scanned, and scanned, and scanned. But no Leopards. We did get Golden Eagle and Lammergeier, Red-billed & Alpine Choughs, Blue Whistling-Thrush and 3 Himalayan Snowcocks found by Pete.

It's starting to get colder...

Once the sun had dipped below the mountain tops the temperature dropped dramatically and we quickly donned our fleeces! Oh boy, I’m not looking forward to tonight..!

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