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Trip Details

10 Days Wildlife Photo Safari into Hoh Xil

10 Days Wildlife Photo Safari into Hoh Xil

Date: Jul. 11 & Aug. 6, 2022, 2023

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 3,680 meters above the sea level and the highest place we will stay is around 4,300 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:

Wildlife Photography
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.


Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
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 team of passionate guides specializing in photography and wildlife with rich experiences of guiding and solid knowledge about wildlife and local places.

• Can be customized to better meet your travel style.

• 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. 


What Makes AbsolutePanda Excellent?

• We are one of the premier travel companies focusing on wildlife in China.
Since 2003, our professional tour leaders and wildlife experts have helped thousands of travelers gain an in-depth understanding of Giant Panda and their companion animals, enjoy stunning scenery all over China and explore the authentic local culture.

• Exclusive quality & value guarantee.
We define our quality by well-designed itineraries, stunning destinations, creative interactions, small groups, professional guides, and reasonable prices.

• Explore China in comfort and your style.
Beyond selected accommodations, meals and vehicles, we would like to show you the real China by an authentic experience with incredible wildlife and lovely locals.

• We care and share.
We believe the best way to help wildlife is love and appreciation. By bringing nature lovers to enjoy the beauty of nature in China, we hope that local people can realize the beauty of wildlife and learn how to love and appreciate those beautiful creatures living near their villages.




Hoh Xil Wildlife Photography Trip Map




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
To begin this tour, you need to fly into Yushu in Qinghai province before the start of the trip. Once you’ve arrived, our team will escort you from the airport to check into your local hotel accommodation and have a good rest. Slow down to get used to the altitude. We will make logistic preparation needed for this wildlife photography program. 

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 (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 (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, Xi'an, 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. 


Dates & Prices

1. Dates

Group A: Jul. 11 to Jul. 20, 2022
Group B: Aug. 6 to Aug. 15, 2022
Group C: Jul. 11 to Jul. 20, 2023
Group D: Aug. 6 to Aug. 15, 2023

Email us for tailor-making a tour according to your time.

2. Prices

The AbsolutePanda team works hard to provide the highest quality tour experiences at a fair price. However, after working in the travel industry for more than 20 years, our team knows that no two travelers are alike in terms of their travel style, personal interests, choice of guides and preferences in restaurants and hotels. For AbsolutePanda, our client’s satisfaction is a top priority. To meet the needs of different clients and ensure they enjoy a trip suited to their preferences, you are welcome to email with specific requests ranging from trip themes, guides, the quality of vehicles, accommodations, and restaurants. Our group trip price has the following includes and excludes below.

This standard price is made based on a minimum of four travelers and a maximum of 8 travelers. That means the trip size is 4 to 8 persons per group.

The Land Cost for 4 to 8 persons' group:  

Single supplement:

The land cost includes:
1. Vehicles list on the trip. A nice private vehicle for the trip, including the cost of fuel; and tolls; airport picks up and drops off;
2. An English-speaking wildlife photography guide for the whole trip;
3. Meals as listed above as BLD;
4. Bottled water and snacks;
5. Entrance charges list in the trip;
6. China Domestic Travel Insurance;
7. Hotels listed in our detailed trip departure available upon request. 

The land cost excludes:
1. Alcoholic drinks during the meal;
2. Extra charges due to change of itinerary from client-side or factors beyond the control of AbsolutePanda such as natural disaster and governmental policy change;
3. Discretionary tips to the guide and driver;
4. All personal expenses, such as laundry service or for personal shopping;
5. Train ticket or Airfare to Yushu and out of Xining;
6. Any program not listed in the itineraries;
7. Entrance fee, car rental, or meals during your free time trip;
8. Single supplement.

Two clients occupy one twin-bed room on sharing basis at 3-star standard hotels in the city and local best guesthouses in the remote area. If the client prefers to use a private room or someone fails to have a roommate, he would need to pay the Single supplement.

3. Experienced Wildlife Guides

• Philip: A local guide born in the Sichuan Tibetan area with fluent English and basic Japanese, Philip is an exceptional photographer. As a wildlife guide, Philip also has a keen interest in Buddhism, birding, and Chinese cuisine.

• Tsebtrim Renqing: Tsebtrim is a local Tibetan from Yushu Tibet Autonomous Prefecture, Qinghai Province. He worked in an international NGO for almost ten years before he transferred to the tourism industry. Renqing has been working as a local guide in Yushu for more than 5 years. His mother language is Tibetan. He speaks good Mandarin and English, as well as a bit of French. He believes each time guiding a tour is a chance of sharing and learning. Renqing is an illustrious guide in Qinghai. He worked with BBC for the documentary of Mekong River and was also invited by a world Top-3 film studio for their movie about Snow Leopard.

• Shay: Shay is among the first group of professional bird guides with an academic background of ornithology. By now, he has successfully guided many avid birders and wildlife photographers from different countries including Norway, Britain, the US, Sweden, Israel, and Thailand.

• Michael: An American born and raised in the Sonoran desert of Arizona, Michael is a passionate wildlife enthusiast who has two years of guiding experience in Southwestern China and has been learning Mandarin for eight years. Michael's passions are photography, culture, and conservation, and he feels happiest when he has the opportunity to help others get the most out of any travel experience. 

To AbsolutePanda team, our clients' overall satisfaction with their trip is the top priority. We can create a different option to make it easier for you to choose a tour that fits your style and budget. We feel it is difficult for our clients to enjoy this trip without the help of a guide. If you prefer to travel in a different style than the option we've provided here, please feel free to contact us.
For travelers who hope to tailor-make the day programs with their specific travel preferences in mind (transportation, hotels, exclusive privileges, and famous local experts), tailor-making a tour is the best way to ensure your desires are met. Please contact us with your specific needs and we will make an itinerary based on your expectations. Once you confirm, we work out the cost and send it to you. Please feel free to ask any questions to learn more.

Please note that guides with specialized knowledge are not always available, especially during our busy season from April to October. If you have an on-planning trip, please contact us as early as possible so that we will block the date of our expert guide for you.

When you put your trust in our team, we are certain to help you enjoy an unforgettable travel experience in China!



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.

If you need help with hotel booking in other big cities of China at different styles and luxury levels (International-brand Hotels, Local Brand Hotels, Economical Hotels), please feel free to email our team at info@absolutepanda.com.


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



Amazing local company- the best and most reliable.
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
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Videos & Photos

Video of Wildlife Photo Safari into Hoh Xil

Welcome to email us and share your trip video with us. Video Album of AbsolutePanda


Marnyi Stones

Tibetan Monastery

Himalayan Griffon (Gyps himalayensis)

Plateau Pika (Ochotona curzoniae)

Prayer Flags

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)

Welcome to email us and share your trip photo with us. Photo Album of AbsolutePanda



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