The Ultimate In Birding Tours

Asia (and its islands)

CHINA’S TIBETAN PLATEAU – the endemics and specialities of Xizang and Qinghai amidst incredible landscapes

Tuesday 10th June – Tuesday 24th June 2025

Leaders: Hannu Jännes and a top local bird guide

15 Days Group Size Limit 8


Birdquest’s Tibetan Plateau birding tours are a real adventure as we travel across the Tibetan Plateau, known as ‘The Roof of the World’, in both Xizang and Qinghai Provinces. The Tibetan Plateau is divided between several Chinese provinces and Xizang, pronounced ‘Sheezang’, is the formerly independent Tibet while Qinghai, pronounced ‘Chinghigh’, was long a part of China. During this exciting tour, we target every Tibetan Plateau endemic bird species bar the hard-to-reach Sillem’s Rosefinch!

The remarkable suite of Tibetan Plateau endemics and near-endemics that are likely to be seen during the tour includes Przevalski’s Finch (a monotypic bird family) as well as Black-necked Crane, Szechnyi’s Monal Partridge, Przevalski’s and Tibetan Partridges, Tibetan and White Eared Pheasants, Tibetan Snowcock, Tibetan Sandgrouse, Lord Derby’s Parakeet, Tibetan Lark, the strange Ground Tit (or Groundpecker), Chinese Rubythroat, Przevalski’s Redstart, Tibetan Blackbird, Smoky Warbler, Gansu Leaf Warbler, Crested Tit-Warbler, Tibetan and Giant Babaxes, Giant and Brown-cheeked Laughingthrushes, Chinese Fulvetta, Sichuan and White-browed Tits, Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Rufous-necked, Blanford’s, White-rumped, Tibetan and Black-winged Snowfinches, Tibetan (or Roborowvski’s), Pale and Red-fronted Rosefinches and Tibetan (or Kozlov’s)  Bunting. What an amazing selection of fantastic birds!

A vast high tableland, out of which rise great mountain ranges, the Tibetan Plateau is truly the ‘Roof of the World’. Here there are towns, villages and grazing lands at heights greater than those of the summits of the Alps! Defended since the dawn of human civilization by the great wall of the Himalayas to the south and by lower but still lofty ranges to the west, east and north, the Tibetan Plateau for long escaped the tides of history.

Independent for much of the last two thousand years, the political entity known as Tibet or Xizang (which excludes the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau, called Qinghai by the Chinese) was incorporated into modern China in 1951 and now has a mixed population of ethnic Tibetans, Han Chinese and other ethnic groups. The Tibetans are a resilient people, however, and even today their unique culture is still strong. Buddhist monasteries reopened after the Maoist ‘Cultural Revolution’, when many were completely destroyed by the nihilistic Red Guards, and prayer flags once more flutter in the breeze around villages, nomad encampments and mountain passes.

For the birdwatcher, as for the traveller, Tibet’s appeal lies in the sheer inaccessibility of its marvels. Closed to outsiders for many centuries, it is only in recent times that Lhasa and much of the Tibetan Plateau has been opened to visitors. During this great adventure, we will explore areas only rarely visited by western ornithologists and we have an excellent chance of finding all of the Tibetan Plateau’s endemic birds, including the biggest attraction of all, the strange Przevalski’s or Pink-tailed Finch, the sole member of the family Urocynchramidae. You simply have to visit the Tibetan Plateau if you want to see all the world’s bird families!

Late spring and early summer (and summer only comes very late to the Tibetan plateau, in late June) is a superb time to go birding in this region, as the weather is at its mildest, breeding birds are in full song, wildflowers are at their peak and the grasslands are a dazzling shade of green, contrasting with the icy summits of the highest mountain ranges. Indeed the incredible mountain and high plateau scenery on this journey is probably the most outstanding of any Birdquest tour!

We shall tread in the footsteps of such early investigators of the Tibetan Plateau’s avifauna as Przevalski, Kozlov and Roborovski. These Russian explorers penetrated far across the plateau during expeditions sponsored by the czars, expeditions which had valid scientific purposes but which were doubtless also part of the ‘Great Game’ played out between the Russian and British Empires north of the borders of India during the nineteenth century.

Nowadays, while still a real adventure, huge improvements in the infrastructure, both roads and accommodations, mean that a visit to the Tibetan Plateau is no longer as difficult as it once was, so one can bird on ‘The Roof of the World’ without having to put up with nearly so much in the way of discomfort, although it is still a place that is much more demanding than the average bird tour destination. This is a unique journey, so if you have always yearned to see the extraordinary scenery of the Tibetan Plateau and its special birds then this is truly a tour not to be missed.

First, we will explore the famous city of Lhasa and its surroundings. The long-forbidden city of Lhasa is dominated by the immense Potala Palace. As well as visiting this greatest of all monuments to Tibetan Buddhism, we will also explore the more atmospheric Jokhang Temple, which is a magnet for pilgrims from all over the Tibetan Plateau and beyond.

The Lhasa region is home to some special Tibetan Plateau endemics. Here we will explore a valley in the mountains where the scrub and meadows hold Giant Babax, Brown-cheeked (or Prince Henri’s) Laughingthrush, Tibetan Blackbird and the beautiful Tibetan Eared Pheasant. We will also visit a different area that hosts a population of the beautiful Lord Derby’s Parakeet.

Flying far to the north, we come to Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, from where we will visit several localities in the surrounding region in search of such specialities as Gansu Leaf Warbler, Crested Tit-Warbler, Chinese and Przevalski’s Nuthatches, and Pale Rosefinch.

From the Xining region, we climb up onto the Tibetan Plateau itself. First, we explore the dry steppe country and eroded hills in search of Tibetan and Mongolian Larks, the strange Ground Tit (or Groundpecker), Rufous-necked, White-rumped, Père David’s (or Small) and Black-winged (or Adams’s) Snowfinches, and Mongolian Finch.

We will also explore the margins of the famous Koko Nor, one of the largest lakes in Asia, and an important breeding area for the endangered Black-necked Crane, Bar-headed Geese, Pallas’s and Brown-headed Gulls, and other waterbirds.

Next, we explore the dry country around the Chaka salt lake and the rugged mountains that surround it, home to a superb selection of specialities including Przevalski’s (or Rusty-necklaced) and Daurian Partridges, Pallas’s Sandgrouse, Przevalski’s (or Ala Shan) Redstart, Smoky Warbler, Mongolian (or Henderson’s) Ground Jay, Blanford’s (or Plain-backed) Snowfinch and in particular the enigmatic Przevalski’s (or Pink-tailed) Finch, which is now treated as a monotypic bird family.

From the north of Qinghai, our Tibet & Tibetan Plateau birding tour heads for the far southeast, enjoying a feast of scenery en route. At high passes, we will watch Güldenstädt’s (or White-winged) Redstart, Tibetan (or Roborovski’s) Rosefinch and Tibetan (or (Prince Henri’s) Snowfinch and Brandt’s Mountain Finch at the roadside amongst some truly awesome scenery. There will also be the opportunity to find Tibetan Sandgrouse. At lower altitudes, the steppes in this area still hold numerous Upland Buzzards and good numbers of Saker Falcons.

Still further to the south, two more of Asia’s greatest rivers, the Yangtze and the Mekong, flow within 100 kilometres of each other through deep, arid gorges. On the spectacular mountain slopes and in the juniper and spruce forests we will look for two of Asia’s least-known birds, Tibetan (or Kozlov’s) Babax and Tibetan (or Kozlov’s) Bunting, as well as other specialities such as Szechenyi’s Monal (or Buff-throated) Partridge, Tibetan Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, White Eared Pheasant, Chinese Rubythroat, Giant Laughingthrush, Chinese Fulvetta, Sichuan and White-browed Tits, and Red-fronted (or Red-breasted) Rosefinch.

What a truly great birding adventure this is!

Birdquest pioneered Tibetan Plateau birding tours as far back as 1984.

In 2025 only, this tour can be combined with our special KUNLUN (SILLEM’S ROSEFINCH) & TARIM EXPEDITION

Accommodation & Road Transport: The hotels are nowadays of good or medium standard. Nowadays many roads in the region are good, or at least of reasonable quality, but we still have to use rough dirt roads in some places.

Walking: The walking effort during our Tibetan Plateau birding tour is mostly easy or moderate (most of the walking would qualify as easy if it were at a low altitude). At the Er La pass, there is an optional demanding walk to look for Tibetan Sandgrouse.

Climate: Rather variable. Temperatures range from warm (sometimes even hot in the middle of the day in the southeast of the Tibetan Plateau and in the Tarim Basin) to cool or sometimes cold. At this season there is a mixture of dry and sunny weather interspersed with overcast conditions and rain, hail or snow showers.

Bird Photography: Opportunities during our Tibetan Plateau birding tour are good.


  • Travelling across the highest landmass on the surface of our planet, and taking in its unparalled majesty!
  • Birding around the once-forbidden city of Lhasa!
  • That first view of the Potala Palace rising above the city, and visiting its dim, mysterious (yes, even now) interior
  • Seeing the devotion in the faces of the pilgrims at the Jokhang Temple
  • Close encounters with Tibetan Eared Pheasants and Tibetan Snowcocks near Lhasa
  • Not to mention the noisy Brown-cheeked (or Prince Henri's) Laughingthrushes and aptly-named Giant Babaxes
  • Watching noisy Przevalski's Nuthatches, Crested Tit-Warblers and Gansu Leaf Warblers in the coniferous forest at Dongxia, the last time we will be this low for some time
  • Climbing up onto the Tibetan Plateau for the first time and seeing the vast blue expanse of the famous Koko Nor, one of the largest lakes in Asia
  • That feeling of relief and 'job well done' when we find the beautiful Tibetan-endemic Przevalski's Finch, sole member of its family
  • All those snowfinches, some co-habitting with scampering pikas. No fewer than six species!
  • The wonderfully strange, bounding Ground Tit (or Groundpecker). A monotypic bird family to come?
  • Our first Black-necked Cranes feeding quietly beside the Koko Nor
  • Getting to grips with Przevalski's Partridges and lovely Pzevalski's Redstarts in the hills, and Pallas's Sandgrouse andMongolian (or Henderson's) Ground Jays in the plains
  • The ever-wilder and more spectacular scenery as we penetrate further onto the Tibetan Plateau
  • Enjoying smart Tibetan (or Roborovski's) Rosefinches feeding quietly within a few metres!
  • A good chance for the handsome Tibetan Sandgrouse.
  • Drinking special tea, with dried fruits and a big lump of crystalline sugar, in a tiny Hui-muslim restaurant a million miles from nowhere
  • Finding the mega-spectacular White Eared Pheasant, beautiful Blood Pheasants and noisy Szechenyi’s Monal-Partridges in Southeast Qinghai
  • Watching handsome Ibisbills along a rushing mountain river
  • Finding noisy Tibetan (or Kozlov's) Babaxes in a dramatic gorge and watching Tibetan Buntings in the high mountains


  • Day 1: Midday tour start at Lhasa.
  • Day 2: Lhasa area.
  • Day 3: Fly to Xining in Qinghai Province.
  • Day 4: Dongxia Forest and Xining.
  • Day 5: Drive via Koko Nur (Qinghai Hu) to Chaka.
  • Days 6-7: Exploring the Chaka region.
  • Day 8: Chaka area, then drive to Gonghe.
  • Day 9: Drive via Er La pass to Wenquan.
  • Day 10: Drive via Yushu.
  • Day 11: Drive to Nangqian.
  • Days 12-13: Exploring the Nangqian area.
  • Day 14: Return to Yushu.
  • Day 15: Morning tour end at Yushu airport.

To see a larger map, click on the square-like ‘enlarge’ icon in the upper right of the map box.

To see (or hide) the ‘map legend’, click on the icon with an arrow in the upper left of the map box.

To change to a satellite view, which is great for seeing the physical terrain (and for seeing really fine details by repetitive use of the + button), click on the square ‘map view’ icon in the lower left corner of the ‘map legend’.


Birdquest Inclusions: Our tour prices include surface transportation, accommodations, meals and entrance fees.

We also include all tipping for local guides, drivers and accommodation/restaurant staff.

We also include this flight in our tour price:


Deposit: 20% of the total tour price. Our office will let you know what deposit amount is due, in order to confirm your booking, following receipt of your online booking form.

TO BOOK THIS TOUR: Click here (you will need the tour dates)

2025: confirmed £4280, $5490, €4990, AUD8280. Lhasa/Yushu.

Single Supplement: 2025: £420, $540, €490, AUD810.

The single supplement will not apply if you indicate on booking that you prefer to share a room and there is a room-mate of the same sex available.

This tour is priced in US Dollars. Amounts shown in other currencies are indicative.

Air Travel To & From The Tour: Our in-house IATA ticket agency will be pleased to arrange your air travel on request, or you may arrange this yourself if you prefer.


Tibetan Plateau: Day 1  Midday tour start at Lhasa where we will stay for two nights. Airport transfers will be provided.

(There are daily flights into Lhasa from Chengdu and Beijing. We can easily book domestic flights for you on request, even if you are not obtaining your international tickets through us. Negotiating Chinese airports is easy. Almost everyone speaks at least some English and the signage is bilingual and good. All announcements are bilingual.)

Since the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1951 and the eventual flight of the Dalai Lama after the failure of the 1959 uprising, Lhasa, the once-forbidden city, has changed greatly. The former purely Tibetan character of the city has been overwhelmed by rather ugly Chinese residential quarters, shopping precincts and industrial developments, but, in spite of all this, the sight of the huge Potala Palace soaring into the sky on the top of the Marpori (or Red Mountain) as one approaches this historic city is still one of the greatest travel experiences in the world.

This afternoon there will be an opportunity to visit the famous Potala Palace. The interlinked ‘white’ and ‘red’ palaces tower 13 storeys high and completely dominate the city below. This truly enormous structure, built between 1645 and 1694, contains over 1000 rooms, including numerous chapels, shrines, assembly halls and mausoleums, and is undoubtedly one of the world’s most extraordinary and moving buildings. The panoramic view from the roof across Lhasa to the mountains beyond is alone worth the visit.

Those who want to see more of Tibetan Buddhist culture can also pay a visit to the famous Jokhang Temple. Founded in 650 AD by Songtsen Gampo, one of Tibet’s greatest monarchs, the Jokhang is the religious centre of Tibet and a magnet for pilgrims from all over the country. Throughout the day a colourful throng circumambulates the temple, the pilgrims chanting and prostrating themselves outside the temple itself. Inside, past rows of prayer wheels, are dark chapels containing a bewildering richness of frescoes and statues. The overpowering, unforgettable smell of butter candles permeates the temple, which now, following the re-establishment of Buddhism in Tibet, is once more watched over by seemingly ageless lamas. Even ornithological pilgrims soon find themselves captivated by this remarkable, other-worldly place.

Tibetan Plateau: Day 2  Today we will visit a very scenic area in the mountains outside Lhasa where the beautiful Tibetan (or Elwes’s) Eared Pheasant, Tibetan Blackbird, the noisy Giant Babax and Brown-cheeked (or Prince Henri’s) Laughingthrush, four species endemic to Southeast Tibet, occur in good numbers in the scrubby woodland and meadows. We can expect great views of all four species, as well as Tibetan Snowcock, another Tibetan Plateau endemic. Sometimes the pheasant and the snowcock can be seen and photographed at incredibly close range around a small and fascinating Buddhist nunnery!

Along the Lhasa River, we will look for the endangered and rapidly declining Pallas’s Fish Eagle, as well as Russet Sparrow. We will also visit an area where our prime target is the splendid and sought-after endemic Lord Derby’s (or Derbyan) Parakeet, which we should find cavorting noisily in the tops of the conifers.

Tibetan Plateau: Day 3  After a final morning birding in the Lhasa region we will take an afternoon flight northwards to the city of Xining where we will stay for two nights.

Xining is the capital of Qinghai province and lies at about 2500m in a river valley that cuts into the northeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Qinghai, which occupies the northeastern part of the Tibetan Plateau, is a province that has been under Chinese rule for hundreds of years, although largely occupied by people of Tibetan or Mongol ethnicity.

Tibetan Plateau: Day 4  Today we will explore Dongxia Forest. Our main reason for coming here is to look for some superb Chinese endemics and other restricted-range specialities, including Gansu Leaf Warbler, the delightful little Crested Tit-Warbler, Elliot’s Laughingthrush, Chinese Nuthatch, Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Chinese White-browed Rosefinch and the interesting albocoeruleus form of the Red-flanked Bluetail (which may merit specific status). We have a good chance of seeing all of these special birds today, while other interesting birds include Hill Pigeon, Salim Ali’s Swift, White-bellied Redstart, Chestnut Thrush, Spotted Bush Warbler, Chinese Leaf Warbler and Grey-headed Bullfinch.

More widespread species we may well encounter include Eurasian Hobby, Common (or Ring-necked) Pheasant (here in its natural home), Common Cuckoo, Black Woodpecker, Oriental Skylark, Asian House Martin, Olive-backed Pipit, Amur Wagtail, Rufous-breasted Accentor, Siberian Rubythroat, the superb White-throated Redstart, Hodgson’s Redstart, Siberian Stonechat, Greenish, Hume’s Leaf and Yellow-streaked Warblers, Goldcrest, Slaty-backed Flycatcher, Rufous-vented Tit, Japanese Tit, Grey-backed Shrike, Azure-winged and Eurasian Magpies, Red-billed Chough, Large-billed Crow, Carrion Crow, Rook (the eastern form lacks extensive bare skin on the face and is sometimes split as Oriental Rook), Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Grey-capped Greenfinch and Common Rosefinch.

Tibetan Plateau: Day 5  The steep, dry, eroded mountainsides that rise high above the Xining valley offer dramatic views over the city and hold an isolated population of Pale Rosefinch (now treated as an endemic Central Asian species distinct from Sinai Rosefinch), our prime target here. Other typical species of this arid environment include Pied Wheatear, Common (or Rufous-tailed) Rock Thrush, Plain (or Père David’s) Laughingthrush, and Godlewski’s and Meadow Buntings.

After exploring this interesting habitat we will head westwards to Chaka for a three nights stay.

From the valley of the Xining River, we climb steadily upwards through cultivated valleys hemmed in by increasingly stark and arid hills. Gradually we emerge onto the northeastern rim of the Tibetan Plateau. Much of the landscape in this area is vast dry grassy plains with a magnificent backdrop of distant mountains, but in places, the road winds its way through dry, rolling hills cut by deep gullies or crosses lower areas where barley can still be grown.

These habitats hold Black Kite, Little Owl, Common Swift, the spectacular Mongolian Lark, the huge Tibetan (or Long-billed Calandra) Lark, Horned Lark, Hume’s Short-toed Lark, Richard’s Pipit, Isabelline Wheatear, Rufous-necked, White-rumped and Black-winged (or Adams’s) Snowfinches, and Twite. Père David’s (or Small) Snowfinch favours the sandier stretches of steppe dotted with bunchgrass.

Best of all is the delightful little Ground Tit (or Groundpecker) that bounds across the steppe-like some kind of bizarre wheatear, stopping every so often to peck furiously at the ground. These fascinating birds are currently thought to be an aberrant tit, although previously it was thought to be an aberrant corvid and called Hume’s Ground Jay, so monotypic family status may prove a better long-term solution.

We will make a few stops at the famous Koko Nor (or Qinghai Hu). The vast Koko Nor, one of the largest lakes in Asia, is a classic locality that appears time after time in the annals of the early ornithological exploration of the Tibetan Plateau. The lake is situated at only 3200m (low by Tibetan Plateau standards) and is surrounded by green and brown hills and snow-spattered mountains that contrast with the deep blue waters of the lake and the pale blue sky.

A number of marshy areas fringe Koko Nor, which is known for its breeding colonies of Bar-headed Geese and Pallas’s and Brown-headed Gulls. We will also see the rare and endangered Black-necked Crane here, while more widespread species we are likely to encounter include Black-necked and Great Crested Grebes, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Greylag Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Ferruginous and Tufted Ducks, Red-crested and Common Pochards, Common Goldeneye, Common (or Eurasian) Coot, Lesser Sand Plover, Kentish Plover, Northern Lapwing, Wood Sandpiper, Common Redshank, Eastern Black-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew and Common Tern (of the very dark race tibetana). Chinese Spot-billed Duck is also a possibility.

Tibetan Plateau: Days 6-7  A large salt lake, now almost dried out, occupies the bottom of the Chaka depression, which is ringed by high, arid mountains. Here in this semidesert environment, we should find Pallas’s Sandgrouse, the localized Mongolian (or Henderson’s) Ground Jay, Desert Wheatear and Isabelline Shrike. We will also have our first opportunity for Blanford’s (or Plain-backed) Snowfinch.

In contrast, the grassy and scrub-covered mountainsides hold Przevalski’s (or Rusty-necklaced) Partridge (a species endemic to the northeastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau), Daurian Partridge, the localized Przevalski’s (or Ala Shan) Redstart (also endemic to this region of China), the weigoldi form of the Smoky Warbler, which was previously treated as a race of the Dusky Warbler, the impressive Giant (or Tibetan) Grey Shrike and Pine Bunting. There is even a chance for Himalayan Snowcock. Even more important for visiting birders is the enigmatic Przevalski’s (or Pink-tailed) Finch, which, after being treated as both a finch and a bunting owing to its intermediate characters, is now regarded as a monotypic family! At this time of year, the finches are making their spectacular undulating display flights over the scrubby slopes.

Tibetan Plateau: Day 8  After some final birding in the Chaka area if need be, we will travel a relatively short distance southeastwards to Gonghe for an overnight stay.

Around Gonghe we will be looking for Turkestan Short-toed Lark, Crested Lark, Pale Martin, ‘Tibetan’ Citrine Wagtail, ‘Margellanic’ Lesser Whitethroat, Rock Petronia, Mongolian Finch and Black-faced Bunting.

Tibetan Plateau: Day 9  From Gonghe we set out early and head south to Wenquan, where we will stay overnight. Nowadays, to anyone who remembers the dire dirt roads that we used to crawl along in Qinghai, it seems almost incredible to be able to travel on the fast expressway, remarkably engineered through the fierce terrain, that connects Xining to Yushu!

The journey is a spectacular mix of high plains, dramatic mountains and gorges. During the first part of the journey, provided it is clear, we may see, far to the southeast, the great peak of Amne Machin (6282m), once thought to be the highest mountain in the world. Soon afterwards the highway winds up over the spectacular Er La pass, 4499m (14,761ft), where the road is surrounded by snow-capped peaks that stretch away toward the distant horizon. We will be spending much of the day here as plenty of time is needed to get the best from the area.

Birds are sparse in this deeply inhospitable terrain but very special! Here we will encounter the striking Güldenstädt’s (or White-winged) Redstart, Tibetan (or Prince Henri’s) Snowfinch, Tibetan (or Roborovski’s) Rosefinch and Plain and Brandt’s Mountain Finches, all of which seem to be able to eke out a meagre living from the stony slopes. There is also a very good chance for Tibetan Sandgrouse for those who are fit enough to reach its habitat.

Tibetan Plateau: Day 10  Today, as we head further south, we will travel across almost endless expanses of grassland that are only occasionally punctuated by a mountain range. This dramatic piece of country is home to many raptors and also Northern (or Common) Ravens of the large Tibetan form. As well as many Upland Buzzards, we can expect to see Himalayan Vulture and the splendid Saker Falcon. The grassy steppes are home to large numbers of Black-lipped Pikas, the staple diet of both Upland Buzzard and Saker Falcon. The burrows of these ‘mouse hares’ pepper the flatter areas and provide nest holes for snowfinches and other birds.

After a time, we will pass over the first bridge over the Huang He or Yellow River near the town of Maduo (or Madoi). At this point the river is under 100m wide and gives little indication that it will, as it gathers its tributaries, soon become a gigantic force that has frequently reshaped the landscape of northeastern China whilst on its long march to the Yellow Sea, shifting its course by as much as 200 kilometres (120 miles) to the north as the result of just one stupendous flood in 1852! The marshes around the headwaters of the Huang He are important breeding grounds for the Black-necked Crane and also for Bar-headed Geese.

We should also see our first Kiangs or Tibetan Wild Asses and Tibetan Gazelles, and probably also the flat-faced Tibetan Fox. There is even a fair chance of Grey Wolf in this wild landscape. Numerous yaks graze on the thin grasses of these high-altitude steppes, watched over by swarthy-looking Tibetans on tough little ponies (or, increasingly, motorbikes) and sometimes accompanied by huge mastiffs with spiked collars. In spite of the difficulties of living in such a remote place, the people are extremely friendly. The ruddy-faced Tibetan women, sometimes still exhibiting with traditional silver ornaments bound into their hair, look to be every bit as adapted to this harsh environment as their menfolk.

Eventually, we leave the high plains behind and descend a valley that leads to the deep gorge of the Chang Jiang or Yangtze River. The scenery today is endlessly changing and endlessly dramatic, with one beautiful vista following another! Soon after crossing the river, already impressively large, we will reach the city of Yushu where we will spend the night.

Tibetan Plateau: Day 11  From Yushu, we will continue to Nangqian. We are now in the ‘gorge country’ of extreme southeastern Qinghai, a unique area where the increased rainfall allows scrub to flourish on the south-facing slopes and even quite mature areas of forest survive in sheltered valleys. The scenery seems almost ‘alpine’ after the Central Asian feel of the high plateau. Along the river valleys, the gravel spreads and flooded meadows provide ideal habitat for Ibisbills and we can expect to see some of these curious birds during our journey. We will also make stops in good areas for the chunky Great and Red-fronted (or Red-breasted) Rosefinches.

We will arrive in Nangqian, where we will spend three nights, in time for some initial exploration.

Tibetan Plateau: Days 12-13  Nangqian is a town situated on the upper Mekong, which here runs from northwest to southeast through a deep, rather arid but dramatically beautiful gorge partly clothed in scrub. Some extensive areas of juniper and fir forest can be found in the more sheltered side valleys. Through a remarkable trick of geology three of the greatest rivers in Asia virtually coincide at this point – only about 100 kilometres to the northeast is the Yangtze, on its way to the China Sea, whilst some 150 kilometres away to the southwest is the Salween, en route to the Andaman Sea.

This fascinating area of gorges, dramatic alpine peaks, Tibetan scrub, and juniper and spruce forests holds special interest for birdwatchers due to the presence of three very special eastern Tibetan Plateau endemics; Szechenyi’s Monal (or Buff-throated) Partridge, Tibetan (or Kozlov’s) Babax and Tibetan (or Kozlov’s) Bunting. The last of these being known only from the dry valleys of the Mekong and Yangtze in Qinghai and adjacent Chamdo in Xizang (Tibet proper).

As well as these three mega-specialities, other great birds in the area include Tibetan Snowcock, Tibetan Partridge, the impressive White Eared Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Snow Pigeon, Robin and Brown Accentors, Sichuan Leaf Warbler, Alpine Leaf Warbler, the superb little lilac-tinged White-browed (or Severtzov’s) Tit-Warbler, the gorgeous Chinese Rubythroat, Kessler’s Thrush, Giant Laughingthrush, Chinese Fulvetta, Sichuan Tit, White-browed Tit, Pink-rumped (or Stresemann’s) and Streaked Rosefinches, and the superb Three-banded Rosefinch.

Other likely birds in the Nangqian region include the impressive Lammergeier, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Golden Eagle, Eurasian Hoopoe, Grey-headed (or Grey-faced) Woodpecker, Eurasian Crag Martin, Red-rumped Swallow, Rosy Pipit, Himalayan Red-flanked Bluetail, Blue-fronted Redstart, the lovely White-capped Redstart, Grey-crested Tit, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, the marvellous Wallcreeper, White-throated Dipper, Alpine Chough, Daurian Jackdaw, White-winged Grosbeak and Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch.

With luck, we will also encounter one or two of the more uncommon specialities of the area, which include Maroon-backed Accentor, Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler and Tibetan Serin.

Tibetan Plateau: Days 14  After some final birding we will retrace our steps to the town of Yushu for an overnight stay.

Tibetan Plateau: Days 15  Morning tour end at Yushu Batang airport.

(There are daily flights between Yushu and Xining, from where it is easy to connect to Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other Chinese gateway cities. We can easily book domestic flights for you on request, even if you are not obtaining your international tickets through us.)


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