On the tracks of the ghost of the mountains

Snow Leopard Trail

The Snow Leopard Trail combines a unique wildlife program on the spectacular north side of the Annapurna Himal with trekking on the world famous Annapurna Circuit. Accompanied by legendary snow leopard expert Tashi R. Ghale, you will follow the tracks of the mysterious snow leopard and contribute to its conservation.


Snow Leopard Trail, Nepal
Guided trekking and wildlife watching

Duration: 17 days
Date: 05. – 21. November 2023
Price: € 2.688,- p. p.


Key facts

Character: Guided trekking tour off the beaten track with wildlife watching

Country: Nepal, Annapurna region

Level: ●●●○○

Contribution: financial support for species conservation projects and awareness raising, more info under the responsibility chapter.

Tour guide: trail angel and Himalayan expert Günter Mussnig.

Included services: among others, accommodation in hotels, lodges & homestays with full board on the trek, luggage service, shuttle services & German-speaking tour guide.

The Snow Leopard Trail: On the tracks of the snow leopard around Manang with subsequent crossing of the Thorong La Pass ©Google Maps®/Trail Angels

On the tracks of the ghost of the mountains

1. The journey


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Character of the journey

The Snow Leopard Trail is the lighthouse project of the Trail Angels in the Himalayas and, as its name suggests, follows the tracks of the mystical snow leopard. In doing so, it roams the northern Annapurna region around Manang, the home village of Tashi R. Ghale. Only through the careful accompaniment of this internationally renowned nature photographer and conservation expert, the presence of the snow leopard in the midst of a breathtaking mountain landscape becomes tangible. In addition, Tashi R. Ghale provides insights into projects and initiatives for the protection of this endangered big cat. Because every Trail Angels trekking trip contributes with the „change“ program contribute to the conservation of the snow leopard and its habitat. An unforgettable journey of discovery in the presence of wonder and who knows, you may even be lucky enough to observe the “ghost of the mountains” in the wild.

The Snow Leopard Trail is reached by road from Kathmandu, though the off-road vehicle ride through the breathtaking Marsyangdi Gorge in particular, from the subtropical jungle up into the world of Himalayan ice giants, is an adventure in itself


The mountain village of Manang at 3,500m above sea level then forms the ideal base camp for the next few days of game drives on hidden wildlife trails, the Snow Leopard Trail. Under the careful guidance of Tashi R. Ghale we follow the tracks of the snow leopard in the midst of a breathtaking mountain world. Always feeling the presence of the miraculous, we catch glimpses of the many fascinating animal species of the Annapurna Himal, from the magnificent blue sheep to the giant bearded vulture. And who knows, we might even see the snow leopard…

In addition, Tashi opens us up to insights into snow leopard conservation projects – from herd protection to the Snow Leopard Scout program with the local school.

The wildlife excursions with Tashi R. Ghale are not only unforgettable, they also prove to be an ideal program for altitude adaptation. For with the crossing of the Thorong La Pass (5,420m) another great trekking adventure awaits.

The Thorong La is one of the most important Himalayan passes in Nepal, connecting Manang with the former kingdom of Mustang. Today it represents the famous key point on the Annapurna Circuit and for you the final highlight of the program on the Snow Leopard Trails.


Highlights of the journey

The journey to the Snow Leopard Trail is an adventure in itself: the four-wheel drive road leads through the imposing Marsyangdi Gorge up into the realm of the snow leopard ©Thomas Sattler/Trail Angels

The Snow Leopard Trail stretches around the Tibetan-influenced villages of Manang and Braga (pictured) amidst the gigantic Annapurna Mountains ©Thomas Sattler/Trail Angels

Acclimatization in Manang provides opportunity for greater immersion in Manangi culture: Archer at the annual festival ©Thomas Sattler/Trail Angels

With Tashi R. Ghale on the tracks of the snow leopard in the Annapurna Himal ©Thomas Sattler/Trail Angels

Tashi R. Ghale: His enthusiasm for the snow leopard and the wildlife of the Annapurna Himal is contagious ©Thomas Sattler/Trail Angels

In the presence of the miraculous: Fresh paw prints on the Snow Leopard Trail ©Josef Essl/Trail Angels

Where there are blue sheep, the snow leopard is not far. A magnificent sight on the Snow Leopard Trail © Tashi R. Ghale

So close to the peaks and the final highlight: After the Snow Leopard Trail we climb one of the most famous Himalayan passes, the Thorong La (5,420m) ©Thomas Sattler/Trail Angels

Travel itinerary*


Day 1

Arrival: Arrival in Kathmandu (05.11.2023); accommodation: hotel

Day 2 Culture: Sightseeing tour Kathmandu; accommodation: hotel
Day 3

Transfer: Shuttle to Besisahar (750m); accommodation: hotel

Shuttle time: 7 h

Day 4

Transfer & acclimatization: Shuttle to Timang (2,750m); acclimatization hike; accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 3 h ↗ 400 m

Shuttle time: 3 h

Day 5

Transfer & acclimatization: Shuttle to Manang (3.500m); acclimatization hike to Gangapurna Icefall; accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 3 h ↗ 350 hm

Shuttle time: 4 h

Day 6

Wildlife watching: Guided wildlife watching on the suras of the snow leopard; accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 4 h ↗ 300 Hm

Day 7

Wildlife watching: Guided wildlife watching on the suras of the snow leopard; accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 6 h ↗ 500 hm

Day 8

Wildlife watching: Guided wildlife watching on the suras of the snow leopard; accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 4 h ↗ 400 hm

Day 9

Trekking: Stage 01 Manang – Leddar (4,200 m); accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 5 h ↗ 700 m

Day 10

Trekking: Stage 02 Leddar – Thorong La High Camp (4,850 m); accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 6 h ↗ 700 m

Day 11

Trekking: Stage 03 Thorong La High Camp – Thorong La (5,420m) – Muktinath (3,800m); accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 8 h ↗ 600 Hm

Day 12

Trekking: Stage 04 Muktinath – Dhangla Danda (3.920m) – Jomson (2.720m); accommodation: lodge

Walking time: 6 h ↗ 200 hm

Day 13

Transfer & rest: Flight Jomson – Pokhara; free time in Pokhara; accommodation: hotel

Flight time: 0,5 h

Day 14

Rest: Free time in Pokhara; accommodation: hotel

Day 15

Transfer & rest: Flight Pokhara – Kathmandu; rest in Kathmandu; accommodation: hotel

Flight time: 0,5 h

Day 16

Rest: Free time in Kathmandu; accommodation: hotel

Day 17

Departure: Return flight from Kathmandu (21.11.2023)


*small program changes reserved

Included services


+ 6 nights in selected middle class hotels (***/**** national categorization); double room with breakfast
+ 10 nights in family-run lodges; double or shared rooms with full board
+ Travel guidance by an Austrian Trail Angel and proven Himalaya connoisseur
+ Guided tour by experienced Sherpa guide (TAAN certified) with knowledge of the area
+ An assistance guide
+ Carrier for luggage transport
+ 3 guided wildlife viewing tours with snow leopard expert Tashi R. Ghale
+ Guided cultural tour in Kathmandu Valley (UNESCO World Heritage Site)
+ All necessary transfers (airport shuttles; Kathmandu cultural tour; drive from Kathmandu to Manang)
+ Domestic flights Jomson – Pokhara and Pokhara – Kathmandu
+ Trekking permit and protected area entrance fee
+ Contribution for snow leopard species conservation project
+ Contribution for climate neutrality (incl. certificate)
+ Detailed tour documents (incl. trekking map)
+ Before the trip: Info service by Himalayan experts

Price: € 2.688,- p. p.

Small group from min. 6 persons to max. 10 persons

Our experts on the Snow Leopard Trail

2. The pioneers

Meet our Snow Leopard Trail pioneers who will accompany you on your trekking journey on the Snow Leopard Trail and give you many insights into the region, culture and the exciting projects on the Snow Leopard Trail:

Tashi R. Gale,
the snow leopard expert

„Die erste Begegnung mit zwei Schneeleoparden in freier Wildbahn war für mich schicksalshaft. Seitdem habe ich einen großen Teil meines Lebens der Erforschung und dem Schutz dieser so geheimnisumwitterten Großkatze gewidmet. Da ich in Manang, mitten in den Bergen des Annapurna Himal, lebe,

kann ich an mehr als 200 Tagen im Jahr auf den Spuren des Schneeleoparden unterwegs sein.

Neben meiner Beobachtung stelle ich Kamerafallen auf, unterstütze Wissenschaftler in der Feldarbeit, helfe den Bauern und Hirten beim Herdenschutz und betreue in der Schule von Manang das „Snow Leopard Scout Programm“. Und es freut mich ganz besonders den Gästen von den Trail Angels die Welt des Schneeleoparden zeigen zu können.“


Günter Mussnig,
the trail guru

“I have been traveling in the Himalayas since 1992 and from my numerous expeditions and treks I know that although the myth of the snow leopard is omnipresent, there has been no opportunity to delve deeper into the world of this creature, as wonderful as it is mysterious.

It is thanks to the initiative of leading snow leopard expert Dr. Rodney Jackson that we were introduced to Tashi R. Ghale. Infected by Tashi’s enthusiasm and expertise, we henceforth collaborated with him on the Snow Leopard Trail program. And so today, the Snow Leopard Trail combines unique nature experiences in the Himalayas with a concrete contribution to the protection of the snow leopard.”


Mingma Nuru Sherpa,
the prudent all-rounder

„I come from the small Sherpa village of Chaurikharka in the Khumbu (Everest region), where the snow leopard has always been part of the culture and daily life of the Sherpas. On the one hand as a mythical creature and on the other hand as a threat to our farm animals on the alpine pastures.

Although I have been a trekking guide for almost two decades now, I never had the opportunity to get closer to this wonderful animal. That’s why I’m grateful to Trail Angels for allowing me to be part of the very first reconnaissance trip for the Snow Leopard Trail in 2018. And am excited to be able to lead treks on the Snow Leopard Trail in the future.


Travel with an impact for change

3. Our impact

Trail Angels tries to live up to its responsibility as a tour operator for the travel of the future. By opening up breathtaking experiences with handpicked tours and with participation in regional projects and measures for climate protection, we want to trigger the greatest possible impact for a change for the better in the destinations. You can find out more about the Trail Angels’ signature tours here.

And this is how we shape our responsibility on the Snow Leopard Trail:

1. Trail Angels project

Financial support for species conservation projects and awareness raising:

With every booking € 100,- per traveler goes to selected projects for the conservation of the snow leopard. Currently, in cooperation …

with both NGO´s Snow Leopard Conservancy and Third Pole Conservancy the following projects get supported:

+ Protection of herds: Installing light traps, so-called “Foxlights”, around the night pens. The aim is to keep the snow leopards away from the grazing animals and thus to make the coexistence of snow leopards and humans more conflict-free.

+ Awareness raising: The “Snow Leopard Scout Program” at Shree Annapurna Secondary School in Manang aims to promote young Manangi’s understanding of nature conservation and the snow leopard. The project is supervised by Tashi R. Ghale and his Third Pole Conservancy.


2. Sociale inclusion

Promotion of local structures

We work exclusively with carefully selected and vetted local tour providers and place the highest value on social sustainability and inclusion …

like for example:

  • Fair payment for trekking crew
  • On the trek: Overnight in small family-run lodges and homestays
  • Promotion of socially disadvantaged populations and local value chains.


3. Climate protection

Climate-neutral design

In order to live up to our responsibility as a tour operator for truly sustainable travel, our trekking tours are designed to be climate neutral without exception. How this works?

  • First, in cooperation with our partner “Global Himalayan Expedition”, your personal “carbon footprint” (footprint) during the trekking trip is calculated.
  • This results in a certain amount of money to compensate for the greenhouse gases emitted during the trip. This amount is already included in your trip price.
  • Each trekking trip is assigned a specific climate protection project in the respective destination, which is selected and supervised by “Global Himalayan Expedition”. With the implementation of this climate protection project your trekking trip will be compensated and therefore climate neutral.
  • On selected trekking trips (such as the “Climate Expedition in the Ladakh Himalaya”) you will be actively involved in this project, for example by helping with the electrification of a project village.
  • If no project can be assigned to the trekking trip, your trip will be compensated via the international compensation platform Atmosfair® according to the “Gold Standard”.

The ghost of the mountains

4. The story

Beauty, strength and a hidden way of life have established the legendary aura of the snow leopard in the Himalayas. A myth that became famous in the so-called “western” countries only with a book: In his world bestseller “On the Trail of 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 futile search, for the snow leopard turns out to be a master of camouflage, of merging with the landscape. Ghostly, elegant and always one step ahead. What Matthiessen finds, however, are the limits of his own ego. For this expedition into the highlands on the Tibetan border becomes for him a “pilgrimage of the heart,” in which he discovers a world in which dramatic forces of nature and the mysticism of Tibetan monks combine to create a reality in which the everyday life left behind becomes unreal and the unreal becomes familiar.

What a beauty: the ghost of the mountains! Around the snow leopard entwine many myths! ©Snow Leopard Conservancy

A lonely path in the barren high mountains: the region around Manang is home to the snow leopard ©Herbert Wölger

Widely used and yet so rare

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 spreads over a huge area of all the high mountains of Central Asia. From the vast steppes of Mongolia to subtropical Bhutan. And in the midst of these sheer endless expanses of rugged mountain ranges and plateaus, just 4,000 – 6,000 individuals of this so fascinating big cat are found. No wonder why the snow leopard can be observed so rarely in the wild. And unfortunately also with a reason, why it is acutely endangered in this thinned out habitat in its existence. Which in turn is a mandate for all of us to make a contribution so that another magnificent creature is not irretrievably lost on our planet.

The snow leopard. A symbol for the mysticism of the wilderness. Noticeable but mostly invisible. So the hike on the tracks of the snow leopard – “in the presence of the miraculous” – opens you a profound and almost spiritual access to the wilderness. And thus serves the search for oneself and one’s own origins.

Blue sheep: as its main food source, they are an important part of the snow leopard ecosystem ©Herbert Wölger

A family of snow leopards: thanks to the protection measures, the population of the big cat around Manang is recovering ©Tashi R. Ghale

Travel reports from the Snow Leopard Trail:

Explorer Tour Snow Leopard Trail, Nepal

With the guardians of the Himalayas and on the tracks of the snow leopard. A review from our Explorer Crew at the Local Life Trail and Snow Leopard Trail.

Read more.

Travelling for a better world!

Blog Series 1/3: The Motivation. How we want to change the future of travel.

Read more. 

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