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Hemis High-Altitude National Park

Location: Jammu & Kashmir, India
Area: 3350 sq. km.
Major Wildlife Attractions: Snow Leopard, Bharal, Ibex
Best time to visit: Mid-June to Mid-October
Places to Stay: Homestays at Rumbak, Kaya, Sku and Chilling

About Hemis High-Altitude National Park

Situated among the serene environs of Jammu and Kashmir, Hemis National Park has the unique distinction of being the first national park to be established north of the main Himalayan range. The place was declared a high altitude national park in 1981 and since has been a major attraction for wildlife enthusiasts and nature lovers from around the globe.

While the park remains open throughout the year, the best time to visit are the months from mid-June to mid-October, which is the ideal time for trekking and forest walks. The best chances of spotting some rare animals is in the winter months when animals like the snow leopard come down to the valleys.

Hemis is full of diverse options for the visitors which include visiting monasteries and trekking. Cycling is another exciting way to explore the area. The temperature remains ideal during the day in summers while it can get cold in the evenings. During winters, the area in virtually inaccessible and the temperatures plummet to as low as minus 30 degrees.

Trekking is the best way to explore the area and get up close with the wild residents of the park. Some of the popular trekking routes in the park include Martselang to Shang, Skyu-Kaya to Markha Valley and the trek from Spituk to Markha. The treks range from the easy to difficult ones and requires some acclimatisation to the climate.

Wildlife Attractions in Hemis High-Altitude National Park

Hemis national park is home to a number of exotic animal and bird species. Over 16 mammal and 73 bird species have been recorded in the park so far, many of those are only found in the Himalayan region and considered to be highly endangered.

Prominent among the animals found in the park include the Snow Leopard, Himalayan Wolf, Wild Dog, Pallas's Cat, Red Fox, Bharal (Blue Sheep), Ibex, Ladakh Urial, Tibetan Argali, Long-tailed Marmot and Himalayan Mouse Hare.

Besides these rare animals, nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts are also presented with a life time opportunity of spotting birds that are unique to the area and are not spotted anywhere in the lower altitudinal regions. The avifauna includes the Golden Eagle, Himalayan Griffon, Lammergeier, Little Owl and Common Kestrel among other variety of birds.

Best Time to Visit Hemis High-Altitude National Park

The best visiting season of Hemis High-Altitude National Park is from Mid-Jun to Mid-October. The park remains open round the year for all visitors.

How to Get there

Air: Leh is the nearest airport. Indian Airlines flies to Leh from Delhi (6:45, except Monday). Jet Airways flies from Delhi to Leh (5:54, except Sat).
Rail: Jammu is the nearest railhead. Jammu is well connected to other cities in India by daily trains from Delhi which include the JP Jat Exp. (22:35), Jammu Mail (21:15), Shalimar Exp. (16:05), Jhelum Exp. (20:49), Malwa Exp. (7:10) & the Tata Jat Exp. (20:40). Trains running Mumbai-Jammu are Jammu Tawi Exp. (23:15, Sat) & Swaraj Exp. (6:45, Mon, Thu, Fri, Sun) while Kolkata is connected through the Jammu Tawi Exp. (11:45, daily) and Chennai through the Andaman Exp. (5:15, Wed, Thu, Sun).
Road: To reach by road from Leh, take the state highway to Hemis via Choglamsar, Thiksey, Karu and Martselang. Buses are available but be sure to plan your schedule accordingly. It is better, however, to hire a private taxi, preferably a four wheel drive.

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