Location: Ladakh, India
Area: 4,400 square kilometers
Nearest Airport: Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport
Nearest Town: Leh
Nearest Railway Station: Kalka, Haryana
Safari: Jeep and Elephant Safari
Entry Fee: Rs.20
Best Time to Visit: May-September
Number of Animal Species: 16
Number of Bird Species: 73
Number of Leopards: 200
Hemis National Park is the first national park of the country that was established in the north of the Himalayan Mountains. It was established in the year 1981 and is known as the best area as far as the protection of Snow Leopards is concerned. It has got its name the Hemis Gompa. It is a well-known Buddhist monastery that is located 40 kms away in the south east region of Leh.
First one has to take the road for Zingchen from where foot journey starts. Rumbak Valley, where a large population of the Snow Leopard can be found is away by around 2 hours. The terrain is extremely rocky at such a high altitude of snow desert which has steep valleys even higher than 5000m. Snowfall in this region can occur at any time and thus there are major fluctuations in the climate. In the winter season the river Zanskar and its tributaries stay frozen.
The national park has around 16 species of animals and 73 species of birds with around 200 snow leopards. The region has dense forests. One can witness Buddhist inhabitants living within the boundary of the park, while growing seasonal vegetables and having around 4000 livestock.
Located in the northernmost district of Ladakh, on the western bank of the river Indus is Hemis National Park, spread in an area of 4,400 sq kms.
Hemis National Park was first founded in the year 1981 by protecting the Markha and Rumbak catchments having 660 square kilometers of area. Then it grew further to approximately 3,350 square kilometers in the year 1988. This is done by including some neighboring lands. It is again increased to around 4,400 square kilometers in the year 1990. The Hemis National park is now the largest national park in South Asia.
Taraxacum, sparse grasslands, Birch, herbaceous vegetation, Ephedra, Myricaria, Astragalus, Junipers, Leotopodium, Salix and many sparse grasslands.
Ladakh urial, srapu, snow leopard, marmot, Tibetan antelope, bharal, Hanuman languor, Tibetan wild or kiang, red fox, ibex, wolf, rhesus macaque, Tibetan argali, Palla’s cat and more.
The fire-fronted Serin, Tibetan Snowfinch, Brown Accentor, Himalayan Snowcock, Tickell’s Leaf Warbler, Red-billed Chough, Streaked Rosefinch, Fork-tailed Swift and more.
The climatic conditions are arctic that it witnesses extremely chilly climate. Rainfall in the region is low; therefore, there is no rainy season. During the winters, the level of mercury drops far below the freezing point, resulting in very heavy snowfall that covers the ground for several months. Summers are very short.
The best time to visit the Hemis National Park is from May to September. The weather is pleasant during this time of the year. The passage to jeep safari and majority of the trekking routes are closed after November due to heavy snowfall.
Jeeps are considered as the best way to take a tour to some areas. Jeep Safaris are not possible in higher altitudes so it is better to opt for trekking tours with trained guides. Tourists can explore the enthralling flora and fauna of the park by the means of trekking.
Within the boundary of the national park, there are 6 villages–Rumbak, Kaya, Sku, Shingo, U. rutse and Chilling which are home to about 1600 people. Along with this, various gompas are also placed within the park. Hemis monastery, around 400 years old is located within the park. It is known as the largest monastery in Ladakh. During summers, The Hemis Festival, known as Hemis Tsechu is celebrated here.
Leh: Leh is primarily famous for its captivating mountains, beautiful monasteries and snow peak backdrop. The place is ideal for adventure enthusiasts who can indulge in river rafting and trekking.
Srinagar: This beautiful city is primarily popular for Dal Lake and Nagin Lake. Srinagar is also popular for its some outstanding gardens such as Mughal Gardens, Nishat Bagh, Chasma Shahi and more.
By Air: The nearest airport is Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport in Leh district and is around 5 kms away.
By Rail: The nearest railhead is at Kala, Haryana.
By Road: If you prefer to travel by road then the nearest highway is Leh-Manali Highway as well as National Highway 1D (Srinagar- Kargil- Leh). Leh city is about 10 kms away to the north of the park and has a number of hotels and lodges.