Wildlife photo safari to Sichuan and Tibet in 2023

I’m thinking of a trip starting at Chengdu, Sichuan, in February 2023. We would drive to a Labahe in western Sichuan, then in 4x4s up onto the Tibetan Plateau, past Qinghai Lake and across the plateau to Wild Yak Valley and back by a more southerly route (or vice versa). Labahe might turn up Tibetan Macaques, Red Panda, Chinese Goral, Sambar, Reeve’s Muntjaks, Swinhoe’s Striped Squirrel and giant flying squirrels. In Tibet we might see Snow Leopard, Lynx, Pallas’s Cat, Grey Wolf, Brown Bear, Argali, Tibetan Gazelles, Blue Sheep, Red Deer, White-lipped Deer, Tibetan Antelope and Wild Yak. I’m thinking of around 25 days. Temperatures will be fresh, but November-February is the best season for mammals because they are at low elevation, close to roads. It ought to be good for resident birds, too. Anyone interested?

Lee Harding; leeharding@shaw.ca.

(I have no financial interest in this or connection to potential tour companies; I will pay the same share as everyone else.)


  • Paul Leader

    Hi Lee,

    Sounds like an amazing trip, however I just wanted to add a word of caution. I doubt very much that China will be open to foreign tourists within a year. The current Covid policy of ‘dynamic zero’ in China and here in HK is still being followed rigidly. You are also going to some fairly remote places, my experience, during SARS for example, is that such areas don’t really know what to do with foreigners, and this can cause genuine problems.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I would be cautious booking and paying for a trip into China at this time.

  • Lee Harding

    Thanks Paul, good advice. Of course, if the borders are closed, the trip is off. There’s an additional concern for Canadians, due to recent diplomatic issues. But of the 3 tour companies I contacted for pricing & itineraries, I’ve used one before and trust them. Plus, if we use that company, the wildlife guide will be a good friend from Kunming with whom I’ve published 2 papers on Chinese mammals. Of course, we’ll watch and see how the situation develops.

  • Lee Harding

    p.s. I’m not tied to February; could be Sept-Nov. 2022 (if the borders were to open) or February-March 2023.

  • Lee Harding

    Paul, I should have asked before: are interested in participating? After getting advice from local guides, I’ve decided to change the date to April. I’m assured that large mammals will still be at lower elevations and easier to see from the roads in April, and rodents etc. will be out of hibernation by March.

  • Lee

    I recently posted a plan for “A Photo Safari to Sichuan and Tibet in 2023”. After consulting with potential guides, I’ve decided to plan it for April 2023 (assuming that travel to China will be possible by then). I am assured that by April, the ungulates in Qinghai and mountains to the south & west will not yet have gone to higher elevations and away from the roads, but the lagomorphs, rodents etc. will be out of hibernation and their predators (cats, foxes) will be more visible. Plus, early migrating birds may be there, and the weather will be nicer. I also hope to plan an extension after the main trip to visit Lhasa and Shigatse for a glimpse of Mt. Everest. Please let me know if you are interested in joining this expedition, either the main Qinghai Plateau portion and/or the Lhasa-Shigatse extension. Lee Harding, leeharding@shaw.ca

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