10 Days Wildlife Photo Safari into Hoh Xil
Date: 11th July & 6th August 2021,2022
Price: From 3750USD/PAX
Trip Focus: Wildlife+Photography
Status: Open to Booking
Route: Yushu-Qumalai-Hoh Xil-Golmud-Gangcha-Xining
Trip Code: W004
This trip starts from Yushu City, the prefectural capital of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. In this trip, our seasoned wildlife guide and professional local driver are going to show you some of the most fascinating wildlife living in different quarters of Qinghai Province including Hoh Xil Nature Reserve, which is China’s 51st World Heritage Site since 2017. Located in the northwestern part of the high grassland of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Hoh Xil (Kekexili) covers 4.5 million hectares in size and is one of the largest and highest nature reserves with the richest wildlife resources in China. The virgin eco-system of the gigantic reserve still stays intact. The reserve is home to more than 230 species of wildlife, including Wild Yak, Kiang, Wolf, Brown Bear, Plateau Pika, Himalayan Vulture, Tibetan Fox, Himalayan Marmot, and Tibetan Antelope or Chiru. We will also drive you to the side of Qinghai Lake to look for Przewalski's Gazelle, which is highly endangered and endemic to China.
This itinerary is crafted for wildlife photographers and we will offer great opportunities to photograph wildlife. Please note that the place where we start our trip is 3680 meters above the sea level and the highest place we will stay is around 4300 meters above sea level. You may need some extra time before the trip to adjust yourself to the high altitude. We will also stay in some of the remotest areas in China to maximize our opportunities. Despite all these difficulties, it will be a very rewarding trip in terms of photography chances. With its vast territory and diverse culture, Qinghai is an extremely charming destination for photographers. And the places covered by this trip offer a great diversity of objects to be photographed, such as glittering monasteries, winding rivers, stunning sceneries, and majestic snow-capped mountains.
Led by an experienced AbsolutePanda wildlife photography guide.
Multiple days of photographing in Hoh Xil Nature Reserve for first-class wildlife images.
Best places to photograph some iconic local wildlife such as Tibetan Antelope, Wild Yak, and Przewalski's Gazelle, etc.
Driving through different topographies and looking for wildlife in different habitats.
Abundant chances to photograph a diversity of subjects beside wildlife such as Tibetan people, snow-capped mountains, deserts, and nomadic areas.
Introduction to Trip Destinations and Activities:
The vast grassland on Tibetan Plateau and the unique religious belief makes it a paradise for wildlife. We create this trip for professional photographers who hope to have the best chances to get the first-class imagines of that iconic wildlife living on the largely untouched part of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Our guides themselves are great natural photographers with deep love in their hearts to this part of the country. They have visited these places many times in the past years and got thousands of great photos. With their expertise and solid knowledge about the wildlife and other resources in the places covered by this trip, you will be able to enjoy a lifetime wildlife safari in the best time and at the right place and come home with wonderful travel memories and great images of the wildlife and other subjects.
Hoh Xil Nature Reserve
Hoh Xil (also called Kekexili in Chinese) means the “beautiful young woman or blue mountain” in the Mongolian language. Kekexili Nature Reserve in Qinghai Province is only a part of the Kekexili area. Established in 1995, Kekexili Nature Reserve is one of China’s largest nature reserves, covering 45,000 square kilometers. It was established to protect the unique plants, mammals and birds and their habitats. In 2017, Hoh Xil was included in the World Nature Heritage Site by UNESCO.
The Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, also known as the roof of the world, is a huge area covering Tibet Autonomous Region, part of Qinghai Plateau and part of Sichuan Province With its high elevation and frozen climate, it is often called the “third pole of the world”. The vast Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the world's third-least populated area. People hold great respect for nature, its wildlife and Buddha. This unique belief makes Qinghai-Tibet Plateau a home to a profound variety and abundance of wildlife.
Tibetan Culture Experience
Qinghai is not only famous for its vast territory, diverse ethnic culture, and abundant wildlife resources. There are abundant places of interest for visitors to get a glimpse into its long history, strong Buddhism presence and lives of nomadic Tibetans, listening to the murmuring of holy scriptures by monks at Wencheng Princess Monastery, walking around the world's largest Xinzhai Kanah Marnyi Stones with locals in Yushu. Buddhism has long become part of daily lives for local Tibetans. The belief in Buddhism makes Qinghai a great place to do wildlife safari.
How Can We Make This Trip Special？
a. A Team of Passionate Guides Specializing in Photography and Wildlife with Rich Experiences of Guiding and Solid Knowledge about Wildlife and Local Places.
b. Can be Customized to Better Meet Your Travel Style.
c. 20-plus Years of Working in the Travel Industry and Serving Travelers from All Over the World Enable Us to Know How to Make Great Trip for Travelers of Different Travel Styles.
Dates and Prices
Day 1. Arrive at Yushu (D)
Picks up from the airport in Yushu. Check-in. Overnight: Yushu (Attitude 3,700m)
Day 2. Yushu (BLD)
Visit the area around Yushu. Overnight: Yushu or Nearby County (Above 3,700m)
Day 3. Yushu-Qumalai 230km 3.5h (BLD)
Arrive in Qumalai. Searching for wildlife on mountain slopes along our driving way. Overnight: Qumalai (4,200m)
Day 4. Qumalai-Hoh Xil 480km 8.5h (BLD)
Head to Hoh Xil. Wildlife searching on the road. Overnight: Hoh Xil (Around 4,500m)
Day 5-6. Hoh Xil (BLD)
Continue our search for wildlife. Overnight: Hoh Xil (Around 4,500m)
Day 7. Hoh Xil-Golmud 370km 7h (BLD)
Head to Golmud. Overnight: Golmud (2,780m)
Day 8. Golmud-Gangcha 660km 7h (BLD)
Long driving day to Gangcha. Overnight: Gangcha (3,300m)
Day 9. Gangcha-Xining 190km 3h (BLD)
Drive to Xining. Search for wildlife on the way. Overnight: Xining (2,300m)
Day 10. Depart Xining (B)
The airport see off.
Day 1. Arrive at Yushu. Meals: D
Overnight: Yushu (Altitude 3,700m)
Day 2. Yushu. Meals: BLD
After waking up at your leisure, we will begin the day adjusting to the change in time and acclimating to the altitude. Some photography excursions will be arranged near Yushu. We will start our photo safari with carnivores living in lower elevations such as Tibetan Fox, Wolf, and Himalayan Griffin Vulture as well as small mammals like the Black-lipped Pika and Himalayan Marmot. Also, we will pay a visit to Jiegu Tibetan Monastery or nearby for a local ethnic cultural experience.
Overnight: Yushu (Above 3,700m)
Day 3. Yushu-Qumalai. 230km 3.5h Meals: BLD
Today we will drive to Qumalai. Qumalai is famous for “The Head Water of Yellow River” Monument and Tibetan monasteries. On our way to Qumalai, we will search for a variety of wildlife inhabiting in this area from roadside including White-lipped Deer, Brown Bear, Kiang, and also birds in this area, such as Black-necked Crane, and Golden Eagle. The nomadic county only has a population of 32,000, and 97.6% are Tibetans.
Overnight: Qumalai (Attitude 4,200m)
Day 4. Qumalai-Hoh Xili Nature Reserve. 480km 9h Meals: BLD
Early in the morning, we head to Hoh Xil (Kekexili). We will search for White-lipped Deer in the first part of the driving. Hoh Xil enjoys a great abundance of wildlife species. The harsh climate here makes it extremely difficult for people to live and turn it into a paradise for wildlife. Hoh Xil Nature Reserve boasts of more than 230 species of wildlife, 20 of which are listed as class one or class two protected animals by the Chinese government, including the Wild Yak, Tibetan Wild Ass, White-lipped Deer, Brown Bear, Tibetan Antelope or chiru and Black-lipped Pika.
Overnight: Kekexili (Around 4,500m)
Day 5-6. Hoh Xili Nature Reserve. Meals: BLD
We will spend two days in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve searching for wildlife and shooting pictures with the best possible background. Covering 45,000 square kilometers in land size, Hoh Xil is a vast ecosystem that hosts countless animal species. It is remote and barren, belonging to the traditional Tibetan province of Kham and is known as the world's third-least populated area. It is surrounded by high, snow-capped mountain peaks and is home to very few numbers of nomadic people. Our experienced local guide will do their utmost to help you get the best images of wildlife such as Tibetan Antelope, Tibetan Gazelle, Wild Yak, Kiang, and Tibetan Fox.
Overnight: Kekexili (Around 4,500m)
Day 7. Hoh Xili Nature Reserve-Golmud (Geermu). 370km 7h Meals: BLD
After two days of searching and shooting, we will head to Golmud (Geermu) and have some brief rest in a comfortable hotel with much better facilities at a lower elevation. On our way to Golmuld, we will try to get more shots of Kiang and Tibetan Gazelle and Blue Sheep. Mammals are very conspicuous along this road, and along with large numbers of Kiangs and Tibetan Gazelles. Golmud is the third biggest city on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Golmud is a fairly big modern city and administrated by Haixi Mongol and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.
Overnight: Golmud (Attitude 2,780m)
Day 8. Golmud-Gangcha. 660km 7h Meals: BLD
Today we will head to Qinghai Lake to search for wildlife species there. It will be a long driving day through the desert area. We will spend some time in the wooded areas in the deserts in search of more wildlife. The great road built through the desert will make out long driving much easier. The unique topography around the desert and some farmed areas inside the desert can provide us some new stuff to photograph.
Overnight: Gangcha (3,300m)
Day 9. Gangcha-Xining. 190km 3.5h Meals: BLD
Today we will drive to Xining before concluding this professional wildlife photography tour, en route, we will take you to the side of Qinghai Lake, the biggest one of its kind in the province to look for Przewalski's Gazelle. This much-endangered species can only be found in some narrow strips of grasslands near Qinghai Lake. We spend the whole morning searching and photographing the shy but beautiful animal. In the afternoon, we drive to Huangzhong City where we can pay a visit to Taer Monastery, which is the biggest one of its kind in this area and one of the most famous monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism. The monastery was founded by Tsong Khapa, who is universally acknowledged as the greatest Tibetan philosopher, founder of Gelug Sect and the teacher of both Dalai Lama and Banchan Lama.
Overnight: Xining (2,300m)
Day 10. Depart Xining. Meals: B
The airport see off and depart Xining.
1. If you need help in arranging a flight into Yushu or out of Xining from Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, Chengdu, or the trip out of Yushu and Xining, please feel free to contact us;
2. This trip ventures into a remote area that features high altitude. Follow the advice from your doctor on altitude sickness before deciding to join this trip. In some events, high elevation can cause severe health complications for those with cardiovascular diseases or other poor cardiopulmonary function.
Hoh Xil Wildlife Photography Trip Map
AbsolutePanda firmly believes travel is an art. To ensure every trip traveling with us is a great travel art for our client, the AbsolutePanda team does all we can to consider every possible detail. The choice of hotels is an essential part of making a great trip. After many years of running a travel business, we have built up our network of cooperative hotels at different levels. We understand people are different in the choice of hotels when they travel. If you hope to use some specific hotels, please feel free to let us know, we are delighted to book it for you at a competitive price for you to make the hotel choice better meet your taste, budget and travel style. We can either reserve a hotel with competitive price for you or simply include the hotel into your trip cost if possible. You are welcome to contact us and tell us your requests, we will do our best to create the best travel itinerary for your private use.
For a group tour, we will use hotels in Yushu and Xining, and for other remote areas, we will overnight in hostels.
1. Will we see Snow Leopards on this tour?
While it is true that Snow Leopards are native to the area we will be conducting our safari in. The places covered in this trip are not the best place to look for these big cats. This tour focuses on the plethora of other exciting animals that can be found in this ecosystem. If you’d prefer to prioritize snow leopards on your search, we recommend you take a look at our “8 Days Snow Leopard safari”.
2. Should I be concerned about altitude sickness?
The Tibetan plateau is an especially high-elevation environment, and concerns about altitude sickness are understandable, please consult your doctor for advice and prepare your own medicine for altitude sickness. Personal response to altitude change varies. We guided a good number of people of different age ranges to this area, so far we haven’t encountered a big problem from high altitude. Most of our search is easy and flexible. Our team of experienced local guides is prepared with a strategy to help minimize the potential risks that come with high elevation.
3. What kind of camera lenses are recommended if I am trying to photograph animals on this trip?
Sure for wildlife photography, with a longer and bigger lens, you get better advantages in some occasions. The wildlife on this trip is not very shy. Sometimes, we can get close to them. Also, we understand people are different in choosing their gears. Each variety of camera gears have their advantages and disadvantages. We recommend you bring your best equipment with you. If you need any assistance with gears, please contact us, we do have some super nice gears in office for renting.
4. Are any of these animals dangerous?
Animals like Wild Yak, Wolf, and Brown Bear can pose a real threat to guests, but do not worry too much. The rule is that good distance is more important than good photos. They are wildlife. Their tolerance of distance varies based on different situations. Our guides are experienced at mediating a healthy distance between you and any animals we encounter. In most cases, we will also be watching these animals from the safe vantage of a van.
5. Will we have the opportunity to speak with local Tibetans in Qinghai?
Yes! The specialists that we recruit the help of are Tibetans from the local area and can assist you in translation.
6. If I have a specific animal species that I am interested in prioritizing, what should I do?
For any specific requests on how the tour is conducted, please send our team an email during the booking process that we can help you create a custom travel experience.
7. What is the terrain like in Qinghai?
It depends where you go. The areas we intend to visit in Qinghai will consist primarily of high altitude prairies. In many instances, these grasslands are rocky and feature breathtaking geological features.
8. What certifications does your team have in the event of an emergency?
Our staff has been trained with the necessary skills of the Red Cross for an emergency.
9. How remote is the area we will visit？
There are communities in the region we will visit in Qinghai; however, these are few and far between. To put things into perspective, Hoh Xil is considered one of the least populated areas in the world.
Email us if you have any questions. Read our FAQ
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I have worked in china as international tour escort for ten years and with a multitude of companies and these guys are in a league by themselves. They have long track record of success for 7 years, have the best connections and the best guides. I can't say enough about them. They can also organize the best local guides for anywhere in china, and are logistical wizards all around.
---Brad J from the US
Himalayan Griffon Vulture (Gyps himalayensis)
Plateau Pika (Ochotona curzoniae)
Tibetan Gazelle (Procapra picticaudata)
Wild Yak (Bos mutus)
Tibetan Antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii)
Tibetan Fox (Vulpes ferrilata)
Tibetan Wild Ass (Equus kiang)
Przewalski’s Gazelle (Procapra przewalskii)
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