Best time to travel to Tibet

Snow Leopard in Tibet

This animal from the endangered list is hard to see, but there's always a chance for an accidental meeting during your hike

Best time: April–November

Snow Leopard

Snow leopards are one of the most endangered species in the world. The global population of these cats varies from 4,000 to 8,700 individuals. Their native habitats are at elevations of around 4,000 m. About 60% of this species lives on the Tibetan Plateau, in the north at Altyn-Tagh.

Snow leopards are a little smaller than other big cats, weighing from 27 to 55 kg. They have a short body from 75 to 150 cm from head to the base of the tail. But the tail itself is quite long around 80-100 cm.

They are suited for living in the cold and snowy landscape. They have long, thick fur that keeps them warm, wide paws for walking on snow, and their long tail helps to maintain needed balance. These cats are mainly smokey gray or yellowish with smaller and bigger spots. A curious fact is that snow leopards can't roar, they make various sounds like hisses, chuffing, mews, and wailing. April and June are the time when small cubs are born. As the hiking season runs roughly from April through November, these are the months when you might encounter the snow leopard.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Tibet to see snow leopards?

The hiking season in Tibet is from April to November, which is the best time for travelers to visit if they want to see snow leopards. During this period, there is also a chance of encountering the snow leopard's young cubs. These cubs are born between April and June and add to the incredible wildlife sightings in the area. Show more

Where on the Tibetan Plateau are snow leopards most commonly found?

North Tibet is where the snow leopards are primarily found, specifically near the Altyn-Tagh mountain ranges. A high percentage of the snow leopard population resides in this area, where they have adapted to the cold and snowy landscape, making sightings a rare and fantastic experience. Show more

What unique adaptations do snow leopards have to survive their habitat?

Snow leopards have several unique traits that enable them to survive in their harsh mountainous terrain. Their long thick fur keeps them warm, and their wide paws can walk on snow without sinking. They also have a long tail that helps them maintain footing on rugged terrain, and their sharp vision can spot prey from great distances. Show more

How do snow leopards communicate with each other?

Snow leopards can communicate with various sounds such as hissing, chuffing, mews, and wailing, as they can't roar like other big cats. Females make a distinctive calling sound to attract potential mates, while cats use vocalizations to help mark their territory, communicate with other cats, and warn off potential threats in the area. Show more

What is the likelihood of seeing a snow leopard during a hike in Tibet?

It is rare but possible to see snow leopards during a hike in Tibet. Trekking during the hiking season from April to November across the region's various mountain ranges near the Altyn-Tagh increases your chances of seeing these superb creatures. Early mornings and late afternoons present the best opportunity to spot them as that's when snow leopards are most active. Show more

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