17 Days Wildlife Safari in Sichuan & Qinghai
Date: May 10 & Jun. 16, 2024, 2025
Price: From 5560USD/PAX
Trip Focus: Wildlife + Photography
Status: Open to Booking
Route: Chengdu-Tangjiahe-Chengdu-Labahe-Daofu-Manigange-Yushu-Qumalai-Hoh Xil-Geermu-Gangcha-Qinghai Lake-Xining
Trip Code: W006
The western reaches of China host some of Asia’s most ecologically diverse habitats. From temperate bamboo forests to alpine plateau prairies, the natural settings and panoramic sceneries in this region vary over a vast area of the landscape. With this tour from AbsolutePanda, you will be given the opportunity to spot some of these incredible animals and experience the vibrant ecosystems that can only be found here in western China. In this trip, we will travel through both Sichuan and Qinghai, viewing scenic natural panoramas, exploring local indigenous cultures and most importantly, searching for a variety of animals including Giant Panda, Red Panda, Sichuan Takin, Tibetan Gazelle, Wild Yak, Tibetan Antelope, Kiang and more!
• Photographing the star species in western China like Sichuan Takin, Golden Pheasant, Chinese Goral, Red Panda, Tibetan Gazelle, Wild Yak, Tibetan Antelope, Kiang, Tibetan Fox, etc.
• Exploring Tangjiahe Nature Reserve and enjoying the ultimate wildlife safari in the mountains.
• Searching for Red Panda in Labahe Nature Reserve.
• Traveling from Sichuan to Qinghai, enjoying diverse Kham Tibetan tribal cultures from agriculture areas to nomadic areas.
• Chances of seeing a great variety of birds endemic to Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
• Discover different landforms from low altitude (500m) to high altitude (4,600m).
Introduction to Trip Destinations:
Bifengxia Panda Base is located within Bifengxia Scenic Spots in Ya’an city, which is one of the starting points of the Tea and Horse Trade Route. Thanks to the humid and warm climate conditions in this area, the Bifengxia Panda Base has the most natural surroundings compared with other panda bases. The beautiful scenic Bifengxia Gorge is located just beside. If you like hiking, it is a perfect place for a half-day nature hike after volunteering.
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 use AbsolutePanda as company brand because of our deep love toward panda and our determination to create your absolutely enjoyable panda trips.
Sichuan and Qinghai Wildlife Safari Map
Day 1. Arrive in Chengdu. (D)
The airport pick up and city exploration is based on your time of arrival. Overnight: Chengdu (Altitude 500m)
Day 2. Chengdu-Tangjiahe Nature Reserve. 360km 6h (BLD)
Drive to Tangjiahe. Overnight: Tangjiahe (1,400m)
Day 3-4. Tangjiahe Nature Reserve. (BLD)
Wildlife safari in Tangjiahe Nature Reserve. Overnight: Tangjiahe (1,400m)
Day 5. Tangjiahe-Chengdu. 360km 6h (BLD)
Drive back to Chengdu. Overnight: Chengdu (500m)
Day 6. Chengdu-Labahe. 260km 4h (BLD)
Drive to Labahe after visiting Chengdu Panda Base. Overnight: Labahe (1,900m)
Day 7. Labahe Nature Reserve. (BLD)
Searching for Red Panda and other wildlife in Labahe. Overnight: Labahe (1,900m)
Day 8. Labahe-Daofu. 290km 7h (BLD)
Drive to Daofu via Kangding. Overnight: Daofu (3,000m)
Day 9. Daofu-Manigange. 260km 5h (BLD)
Searching for White-lipped Deer. Overnight: Manigange (3,900m)
Day 10. Manigange-Yushu. 360km 6h (BLD)
Drive to Yushu and search for wildlife on the way. Overnight: Yushu (3,700m)
Day 11. Yushu-Qumalai. 230km 4h (BLD)
Drive to Qumalai and search for wildlife on the way. Overnight: Qumalai (4,200m)
Day 12. Qumalai-Hoh Xil. 310km 5.5h (BLD)
Long driving day to Hoh Xil and search for wildlife on the way. Overnight: Hoh Xil (4,600m)
Day 13. Hoh Xil. (BLD)
Wildlife safari in Hoh Xil. Overnight: Hoh Xil (4,600m)
Day 14. Hoh Xil-Geermu. 360km 7h (BLD)
Drive to Geermu and wildlife safari on the way. Overnight: Geermu (2,800m)
Day 15. Geermu-Gangcha. 660km 8h (BLD)
Long driving day to Gangcha. Overnight: Gangcha (3,300m)
Day 16. Gangcha-Qinghai Lake-Xining. 300km 5h (BLD)
Searching for Przewalski's Gazelle from the roadside. Overnight: Xining (2,200m)
Day 17. Depart Xining. (B)
The airport see off.
Day 1. Arrive in Chengdu. Meals: D
The airport pick up. Based on the time you arrive, we can plan some free city tour programs such as visiting People’s Park to experience the typical laid-back lifestyles of Chengdu or visiting Jinli Street to feel the bustling shopping street with all types of shops selling unique local souvenirs and food stands offering delicious local take-away food.
Overnight: Chengdu (Attitude 500m)
Day 2. Chengdu-Tangjiahe Nature Reserve. 360km 6h Meals: BLD
In the morning, we will drive to Tangjiahe Nature Reserve via Qingxi Ancient Village. Qingxi Ancient Village served as an important strategic point in defending Sichuan and trade post between Muslims and Han Chinese in history. With a history of more than 1700 years, Qingxi used to be the county seat of Qingchuan County with a city wall going around the village. The existing buildings inside the Qingxi Ancient Village are Ming and Qing dynasties' styles. We will spend about 30 minutes exploring this quiet ancient town and feel the harmonious coexistence of Muslims and Han Chinese under the same roof of traditional Chinese architecture.
Overnight: Tangjiahe (1,400m)
Day 3-4. Visit inside Tangjiahe Nature Reserve. Meals: BLD
During our visit, our group will be able to explore this giant panda habitat and stay at a hotel within Tangjiahe Nature Reserve. This scenic reserve is one of the first reserves set up in China to protect wildlife and is one of the most successful reserves to achieve this goal. It is home to a great variety of species of wildlife including plants, fishes, insects, and amphibians living under the umbrella of Giant Panda protection. We will spend two days exploring different parts of the reserve in search of mammals, birds, and fishes. The animal species we may come across based on our knowledge from past trips include Sichuan Takin, Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, Asiatic Black Bear, Tibetan Macaque, Golden Pheasant, Wild Boar, Chinese Goral, Reeve's Muntjac, Chinese Serow, Masked Palm Civet, Eurasian Otter, Tufted Deer, Yellow-throated Marten, and Rhesus Macaque. At the end of the day, we can have a night walk around the hotel to search for some nocturnal animals such as Leopard Cat.
Overnight: Tangjiahe (1,400m)
Day 5. Tangjiahe-Chengdu. 360km 6h Meals: BLD
This morning we will depart from Tangjiahe for Chengdu via Guanghan. If you are interested, we can make several stops for the cultural exploration of light birding en route.
Overnight: Chengdu (500m)
Day 6. Chengdu-Labahe. 260km 4h Meals: BLD
Today, we will drive to Labahe after paying a visit to the Ya’an Bifenxia Panda Base set up by China Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda). Located inside the scenic Bifengxia Gorge Scenic Area, focus on breeding and disease prevention. During your visit, you will see pandas ranging from young cubs to lumbering adults as well as the elusive and adorable Red Panda. Additionally, the scenic, natural environment will give you a feel of seeing pandas in the wild. The lush forest and plantations inside the panda base also serve as important habitat for birds such as, Chinese Hwua Mei, Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Grey-headed Canary Flycatcher, Red-billed Leiothrix, White-browed Laughingthrush, Eurasian Jay, etc.
Overnight: Labahe (1,900m)
Day 7. Labahe Nature Reserve. Meals: BLD
We will spend the whole day searching for Red Panda and its companion animals in Labahe Nature Reserve, which is one of the best places in the world to see wild Red Panda in their habitat. In Labahe, we can also search for mammals like Sambar Deer, Tibetan Macaque, Chinese Goral, Leopard Cat, Sichuan Takin, Chinese Serow, and Hog Badger.
Overnight: Labahe (1,900m)
Day 8. Labahe-Kangding-Daofu. 290km 7h Meals: BLD
Today we will drive to Daofu via Kangding. Kangding is the hub of the ancient Tea and Horse Road. Then we will climb through the famous Zheduo Moutain Pass which is about 4300 meters above sea level. In Kangding city, the Zheduo Moutain Pass serves a demarcation line between the full Tibetan area and the Tibetan area mixed with other ethnic people. On the way to Daofu, we will drive through Xinduqiao, which is known as the paradise for photographers, colorful Tagong, a place favored by Buddha and Daofu, which features the most beautiful Tibetan family houses in whole Tibetan area.
Overnight: Daofu (3,000m)
Day 9. Daofu-Manigange. 260km 5h Meals: BLD
Today we will enjoy another scenic day as we drive through four different tribal areas in history. We will witness the change of architecture styles when we pass from one tribal area to another. Until we get to Manigange, we will have multiple stops for scenery shots and cultural exploration. Upon arrival, we will spend the afternoon to search for White-lipped Deer around a local Tibetan village. Manigange is a small township under the jurisdiction of Dege County. In history, Manigange served as the vital pass for the Ancient Tea and Horse Trade Route.
Overnight: Manigange (3,900m)
Day 10. Manigange-Yushu. 360km 6h Meals: BLD
Today we will drive in the nomadic areas, and we will stop every once in a while to scan the vast grasslands for wildlife on the way. We have a very good chance to see mammals such as Wolf, Tibetan Gazelle, Himalayan Marmot, White-lipped Deer and lots of Black-lipped Pika. Once we get to Yushu, we can explore some of the beautiful monasteries in Yushu, and take a round walk around the world's largest Xinzhai Kanah Marnyi Stones along with hundreds of local people who do this multiple times every day.
Overnight: Yushu (3,700m)
Day 11. Yushu-Qumalai. 230km 4h Meals: BLD
After breakfast from our hotel, we will drive about 4 hours to Qumalai. Qumalai used to be a nomadic county with vast territory and a small population. This makes this place a paradise for wildlife. At an elevation of 4,445 meters above sea level, the newly constructed county town features a very strong nomadic Tibetan culture. So today, we will only have some short searches from the road for wildlife when we drive from Yushu to Qumalai. We will have more time to rest and get ready for our wildlife safari in the next day.
Overnight: Qumalai (4,200m)
Day 12. Qumalai-Hoh Xil Nature Reserve. 310km 5.5h Meals: BLD
Today is a big day for us. We will drive about 9 hours on a very good road to Hoh Xil Nature Reserve and there are lots of opportunities for wildlife. Despite the harsh climate, Hoh Xil is home to more than 230 species of wild animals, 20 of which are under Chinese government protection, including Wild Yak, Kiang, White-lipped Deer, Brown Bear, and the endangered Tibetan Antelope or chiru. The abundant Plateau Pika, a small burrowing rodent, is the main food of the region's Brown Bear. The hotel we are going to stay in is very basic, though it is a local best hotel available there.
Overnight: Hoh Xil (4,600m)
Day 13. Hoh Xil Nature Reserve. Meals: BLD
We will spend a whole day in Hoh Xil Nature Reserve searching for wildlife and shooting pictures. Covering 45,000 square kilometers of high grassland, Hoh Xil is a vast ecosystem that hosts numerous animal species. It is surrounded by high, snow-capped mountain peaks. Our experienced local guide will take you to the best spot to shoot wildlife such as Tibetan Antelope, Wild Yak, Kiang, Brown Bear, and Black-lipped Pika.
Overnight: Hoh Xil (4,600m)
Day 14. Hoh Xil-Geermu. 360km 7h Meals: BLD
When we drive from Hol Xil to Geermu, we will search for some other wildlife living in lower elevations such as Blue Sheep. Geermu city is a very modern industrial city at a much lower elevation. After several days of living in very basic conditions, this is the best place for us to relax.
Overnight: Geermu (2,800m)
Day 15. Geermu-Gangcha. 660km 8h Meals: BLD
Long driving day to Gangcha. Today we will drive through a very different topography, the desert areas. We will make some brief stops to look for wildlife in some oases. When we get to Qinghai Lake, the biggest salt lake in China, we will search for some summer breeders such as Black-necked Crane, Bar-headed Goose, and Brown-headed Gull.
Overnight: Gangcha (3,300m)
Day 16. Gangcha-Qinghai Lake-Xining. 300km 5h Meals: BLD
Today we will head to Xining via Qinghai Lake. Qinghai Lake is known as the largest inland saltwater lake in China. Qinghai Lake is also good for the alpine waterfowls, including Black-necked Crane, the only crane that breeds on the plateau, as well as the Bar-headed Goose, Northern Pintail, Red-crested Pochard, Eurasian Wigeon, Whooper Swan, Ferruginous Duck, Ruddy Shelduck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pallas’s Gull, Kentish Plover, Pale Martin, Green Sandpiper, Common Redshank, etc.If you are not interested in bird watching around Qinghai Lake, we will head to another spot searching for Przewalski's Gazelle before we head back to Xining.
Overnight: Xining (2,200m)
Day 17. Depart Xining. Meals: B
The airport see off and AbsolutePanda service ends.
1. If you need help in arranging a flight to Chengdu from Beijing, Shanghai, Xian or other cities, or a flight out of Xining, please feel free to contact us, we are very happy to provide any assistance that can facilitate your trip planning.
2. This trip will ventures into a remote area of high altitude. Please seek advice from your doctor on altitude sickness and bring necessary medications before you decide to join this trip. In some events, high elevation can cause severe health complications for those with cardiovascular diseases or other poor cardiopulmonary function diseases.
Dates & Prices
May 10 to May 26, 2024,2025
June 16 to July 2, 2024,2025
Email us to tailor-make a tour that can meet your taste, budget and schedule best.
The cost for a group of 4 to 10 people:
The AbsolutePanda team works hard to provide the highest-possible 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 styles, 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 us with specific requests ranging from trip themes, guides, the grade and brand of vehicles, accommodations, restaurants, etc. We will try our best.
To ensure our guest the best trip, we set our minimum departure number at four travelers and the maximum departure number at ten travelers. That means the trip size is 4 to 10 participants.
The cost includes:
1. Vehicles listed on the trip. Fuel, tolls, airport pick up and drop off are included in the price. The size of the vehicle is based on the number of participants for this itinerary;
2. An English-speaking wildlife guide for the whole trip;
3. A local ranger in Tangjiehe Nature Reserve;
4. Meals listed above as BLD;
5. Bottled water and snacks;
6. Entrance charges listed in the itinerary;
7. China Domestic Travel Insurance;
8. Hotels listed above.
The 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 Chengdu and out of Xining;
6. Any items not listed in the itinerary as included;
7. Entrance fee, car rental, or meals during your free time trip;
8. Single supplement.
This trip price is based on two clients sharing one twin-bed room in 3-star standard hotels in big cities and local best guesthouses in a remote area. If you prefer to use a private room or we can not find a roommate for you, then a single supplement will be added to your trip price.
3. Experienced Wildlife Guides
• Bella: Born in Dali of Yunnan Province, from Bai ethnic family, Bella was brought up in a small county famous for ethnic Bai culture, abundant natural resources, and rich tourism resources. After graduation from high school, she chose to study tourism at university so that her passion for nature and travel could continue. She started her career in tourism with AbsolutePanda after graduation from her university. After years of hard-working, now she has become an expert in multiple fields, including birding, photography, food and ethnic culture. Bella is a big fan and great spotter of wildlife, a passionate bird guide, and an in-depth cultural interpreter. She loves sharing news and her pictures or videos of wildlife on social media. Though Bella is still very young, her passion, knowledge in nature and culture, fluent English and guiding expertise will make your trip truly enjoyable.
• Philip: A local guide born in the Sichuan Tibetan area with fluent English and basic Japanese, Philip is an exceptional photographer, especially bird photography, and had guided many Snow Leopard safari trips since 2017. Besides being a wildlife guide, Philip also has great knowledge of Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, birds, and culinary culture.
• Cory: Cory is a plant expert and photo guide of AbsolutePanda. As a native of Chengdu, the place where he was born has beautiful mountains and abundant plant resources. Since his childhood, he has been deeply attracted by the beauty of nature and spent a lot of time exploring nature in the mountains surrounding his hometown. After many years of learning purely out of interests, Cory has accumulated rich knowledge about plants, mammals, and mountains. As a successful plant photographer, Cory has photographed more than two thousand species of wildflowers. His knowledge and passion for plants and photography will make your trip unique and enjoyable. With him as your plant and photography guide, you will be able to appreciate the beauty of the nature presented like a roll of traditional Chinese painting unveiled by Cory with his findings and stories behind those beautiful flowers.
1. Please note that our 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.
2. To our 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. If you prefer to travel in a different style than the option we've provided here, please feel free to contact us.
3. For travelers who hope to tailor-make the programs with their specific travel preferences in mind (transportations, 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 prepare an itinerary based on your expectations. Once you are satisfied, we will work out the cost and send it to you. Please feel free to ask any questions to learn more.
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 with us is a great travel art for our clients, 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 want to use some specific hotels, please feel free to let us know, we are delighted to book it for you at a competitive price 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. How remote is the hotel in the Tangjiahe Nature Reserve on this trip?
The accommodation in the Tangjiahe Nature Reserve is located in the middle of the mountainous temperate forest in northern Sichuan. The closest community is roughly half an hour's drive and will require the assistance of our chartered van. The hotel itself is very nice and provides a relaxing place for us to begin our search for animals in the surrounding wilderness.
2. What are the chances we will see wild Red Panda on this trip?
During our visit to the natural reserve in Labahe, we will have an especially good chance of spotting a red panda (depending on weather conditions). Labahe is considered one of the best places in the world to find these animals, our team of guides had conducted lots of trips to this area and have extensive knowledge about the wildlife there. In our past trips, our clients had taken very good photos of the wild red panda with us.
3. Will we see wild pandas during this tour?
While Sichuan is famed as a province accommodating the most substantial portion of the wild panda population (80%), it should be noted that spotting a wild panda is quite slim due to the small population and unique lifestyle of pandas mostly living inside the bamboo forest. Although visitors and rangers report viewing pandas in the Tangjiahe Nature Reserve almost every year, it's really hard to predict how a particular trip will go. For us, we will do our best to show you all the possible attractions we see inside this panda habitat and make your trip full of wonderful memories. Pandas live in the place we are going to visit, and we just enjoy everything we have blessed to see there.
4. Which indigenous cultures can we expect to encounter on this tour?
As we move into the western and northern reaches of Sichuan and throughout Qinghai, you are certain to be surprised by the sudden shift in the local cultural aesthetic. These areas are occupied by predominantly Tibetan communities that range from agricultural townships to families of nomads living in tents on the prairie.
5. How does the ecosystem/wildlife differ between Sichuan and Qinghai?
Many of the regions we will visit can be classified into two biomes: highland prairies and mountainous temperate forests. While we travel through the panda habitats in Sichuan, most of the local ecosystems will be typical of the temperate forests, while the majority of Qinghai will consist of prairies. One exception to this general description will be when we visit Tibetan communities in western Sichuan. These townships are also located in high-altitude grasslands, like Qinghai. In the prairies, many of the animals inhabit here including Wild Yak, Tibetan Gazelle, and Tibetan Antelope. During our time in Sichuan, we can expect to see Tibetan Macaque, Sichuan Takin and perhaps even Red Panda and Golden Snub-nosed Monkey.
6. I’ve heard the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is very high in elevation, should I be worried about altitude sickness?
While the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is high in elevation, our team is especially experienced in guiding foreign tourists through these regions. We have planned this itinerary to give you a gradual acclimation period to get used to the elevation. However, if you have any trouble with the altitude, please talk to us for specific suggestions.
7. Are any of these animals dangerous?
Animals like Wild Yak, Wolf and Brown Bear can pose a real threat to guests, but our guides are experienced at keeping a safe 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.
8. Will there be opportunities to purchase local souvenirs during this tour?
As we travel through Tibetan communities, there will be many opportunities to purchase keepsakes from local vendors. Our guides are happy to help.
9. If I am particularly interested in finding birds, is there a way for me to request a specialist as a guide?
In addition to our experts specializing in mammals, we have many birding experts on the team. If finding birds is your priority, please let us know in advance.
Email us if you have any questions. Read our FAQ
The best travel company I have ever worked with.
Where to begin? I am an international tour leader. This team is our partner company, and for the last 5 years, they have proved time and time again to be by far the best, most meticulous, detail-oriented, experienced, and honest company I have ever encountered. These guys get it- travel is an art. They are focused on the experience, not the profit, and this is very rare in China. The founder, Philip, is one of the top birders and nature experts in Sichuan, and is well respected throughout the province and beyond for all of his efforts to support local culture and conservation of wildlife. He is from a remote Tibetan region and understands how to operate in the wild, unexplored regions of China- the real China. He is an excellent teacher and judge of character and has built an amazing team of loyal guides who cannot be topped. If you travel with these guys, you have made a wise decision.
Date of experience: May 2017
Wildlife of Tranquility.
We really had a nice Safari trip in Qinghai and Yushu. Our itinerary included beautiful landscape, stunning scenery and animals in Qinghai plateau. We enjoyed and learnt a lot from our professional guide Philip and his driver. They are both very reliable and trustworthy. We only need to let Philip noticed about our special points of interest, and he would did his best for us. The journey was absolutely wonderful! The scenery is fabulous and the wildlife is amazing. We are lucky enough to meet different species of animals, such as Tibetan Antelope and Tibetan Gazelle as well as various kind of birds throughout this trip.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Philip and Lily again for the their expertee and value add-in to this special trip. Philip has even gladly share some photography tips and his beautifully taken pictures with us. These pictures definitely highlighted our valuable happy memory.
Date of experience: August 2016
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Videos & Photos
Sichan & Qinghai Wildlife Safari Video
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Asiatic Black Bear
Yushu Jiegu Monastery
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