Snow Leopards & Tibetan Mammals Tour – Qinghai (China)
July 26, 2025 - August 8, 2025£880 – £4155
Snow Leopards & Tibetan Mammals Tour – Qinghai (China)
This itinerary will visit the Tibetan Plateau and associated mountainous ecosystems of the Chinese province, Qinghai. This rugged and sparsely populated area is home to large numbers of iconic and endangered species such as snow leopards, wild yak, Tibetan antelope, Himalayan brown bear, Tibetan wolves among many others.
Over the last decade or so the snow leopard has gone from a species which was deemed impossible to see in the wild, to an animal which is now regularly encountered. For the last 2-3 years the sightings of snow leopards here have steadily increased and an average of numerous sightings per trip has resulted in us organising this specific high altitude mammal watching tour. In addition to the snow leopards this itinerary visits areas which are very good for Tibetan antelope, wild yak, Alpine musk deer, white-lipped deer, Tibetan wolves, Tibetan foxes, kiang and other mammal species of the Tibetan Plateau. But we also have found quite reliable locations for Himalayan brown bear and even Eurasian lynx in recent months.
You will be experiencing rural China and technically Tibetan culture and everything from the food, culture, architecture you will encounter will differ from the typical Chinese imagery that most people have when they thing of the superpower that China is nowadays and the ultra-modern cities.
Traditional Tibetan homestays
Expert local guides
Top Animals on Tour
Today we recommend you arrive early today (or even the day before) so we can spend the majority of the day looking for wildlife around Yushu. So the plan is to have collected everyone by midday and then we can leave the city and start looking for wildlife on the outskirts of the city in some locations known for mammals and birds. We will try and find species such as McNeil’s deer, White-lipped deer, Alpine musk deer, blue sheep, Glover’s pika and there is already a possibility of snow leopard here. As far as interesting bird species go we may see ibisbill here.
Yushu – Kanda Mountain
Today will be a second day exploring the well known locations on the outskirts of the city for wildlife before departing and travelling to Kanda Mountain. It is around the mountain that we have had some success with Eurasian lynx in the recent past and we hope this continues. Snow leopards are also known from here and so we could get both high altitude cat species here today.
Kanda Mountain – Angsai (Valley of the Cats)
This morning will be spent around Kanda Mountain with Eurasian lynx our main priority here. We will then depart from Kanda Mountain and head towards Angsai this is an area being protected by the ShanShui NGO and with great success. The wildlife range of wildlife here is staggering and with 5 species of cats recorded from here (with the possibility of Chinese mountain cat also present) the place is aptly named for his population and reliability of seeing snow leopards. Spotlighting is not permitted in the valley so this afternoon / evening when we arrive we will start looking until nightfall and then have dinner.
Angsai (Valley of the Cats)
For the next 4 full days we will explore this wonderful valley in its entirety. The range of wildlife here is among the most diverse in the Tibetan plateau and along with snow leopards there are leopards, Eurasian lynx, Pallas’s cat, Indochinese leopard cat all recorded from here. Other than cats we hope to see Himalayan brown bear, woolly hare, Glover’s pika, mountain weasel, Himalayan marmot, white-lipped deer, Alpine musk deer, Tibetan fox, red fox and blue sheep whilst here. On the bird side of thigs we may see white-eared pheasant, buff-throated partridge, Tibetan partridge, golden eagle, saker falcon, lammergeyer, Himalayan griffon and steppe eagle.
In the last few years the rate of sightings of snow leopards here has been incredible and rival sightings in number, frequency and distance anywhere in the world. Of course we hope this continues into the future and we will put in as many hours into trying to see these and other species, we cannot guarantee anything as they are wild animals.
Angsai (Valley of the Cats) – Yushu
This morning we will have a last chance to see animals in this area before leaving to drive back to Yushu. We will arrive in the later afternoon and have the rest of the day to rest at the hotel.
Yushu – Zhidoi
On the morning of day 9 will leave Yushu and travel to Zhidoi County, our locations here are focused on a new set of mammals including Tibetan (or Himalayan) wolf – which is newly described as a distinct species -, Tibetan fox and Tibetan gazelle as well as pikas, marmots and other species. We will spend the afternoon looking for wildlife and if local conditions allow we will spotlight here for nocturnal species too.
Then the full day of day 10 will be spent exploring the region around Zhidoi County looking for wildlife and once again if we can, we will go out spotlighting after dark. Also known from around Zhidoi County are snow leopards, so there are further chances to see this awesome species here as well.
Budongquan / Kekexili Desert
This morning we will leave Zhidoi and drive towards the Kekexili Desert and in particular Budongquan. This region has once again a different set of mammal species and our main targets this afternoon will be kiang, Tibetan antelopes and wild yak. These species have been hit hard by poaching and hybridisation (in the case of the wild yak) and so they are now only found in large numbers far away from any large human settlements, which is why we have to come all of this way to see them. But the good news is that these animals are reliable here and often seen in good numbers.
Also found around here are woolly hare, various pika species (including Koslov’s pika and plateau pika) and possibly jerboas too. If local conditions allow we will spotlight around here after dark.
Wild Yak Valley
Today is a full day exploring probably the best place in the world to see wild yaks. But as well as yaks we will look for all manner of other mammal species, and birds and other wildlife. This is a full day looking for wildlife and then if possible spotlighting after dark too.
Today is the start of our long journey back home. We will spend most of the day on the road and travel back to Zhidoi for the night. We will do some wildlife watching from the road as we go along.
Today is our second day of travelling back towards the city of Yushu, we arrive back in the city in the afternoon and the rest of your final night is free for your leisure.
After breakfast you will be transferred to the airport in time to catch your return flight home.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
This tour can be booked at times of year outside of winter, (subject to availability).
The weather will be variable as we are visiting some very different rugged habitats where the exposed grasslands and mountains cause unpredictable and unseasonable weather often. But prepare for strong sunlight, winds, possible rain and snow at any time of year (typical high altitude weather conditions).
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), sometimes dinner and lunch are simple and taken in the field. There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide for transfers when needed.
All our excursions including guided walks, vehicle safaris, permits, night safari fees and park entrance fees also included; we also include good quality optical equipment.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as very warm winter clothes, such as down jackets & trousers, walking socks, gloves, hats, scarfs, fleeces etc (particularly when traveling in early Spring. Broken in and comfortable, waterproof walking boots are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive).
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend KLM / China Southern Airlines as a good airlines for flights to Chengdu. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for China. These are only obtainable in advance from your local embassy or consulate. The easiest way to find information is by visiting the website of your local embassy or consulate or visa application centre. We will provide the bookings and itinerary needed for your visa application.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit China, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting China as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Reviews of this Holiday
Mr. Davies - UK
Pete - The Wirral, UK