Meet the Locals 遇见当地人

The Valley of the Cats is inhabited by 21 local families of nomadic Tibetan yak herders.  Visitors stay with one of the families on a strict rotational basis to ensure that tourism income is shared equally among the community.  Below you can find out more about some of these wonderful people.


Meet Zhashuji, local government leader

扎西东周 昂赛乡书记

ZhaShuji in Angsai

Zhashuji has been local government leader in the Valley of the Cats since May 2014.  He is a strong supporter of conservation and recognises the immense richness of the unique ecosystem he oversees.  His vision has been instrumental in opening up the valley to a limited number of visitors in order to strengthen local incomes and support Snow Leopard conservation.


A Typical Family – 更求江才 Geng Qiu Jiang Cai & 青梅卓玛 Qing Mei Zhuo Ma

2018-04-07 Family 3 with Wayne and Jenny
Geng Qiu Jiang Cai and Qing Mei Zhuo Ma with their family, pictured here with visitors Wayne and Jenny Winkelman, teachers at the International School of Beijing.


Niandu village, about 50 minutes drive from the local government, close to the main roads, convenient transportation.

Family members

GengQiu JiangCai (38 years old), his wife Jigme Dolma (36 years old), her oldest daughter Quzhu Bamao (16 years old), her second daughter Yingxi Gazhuo (14 years old), her son Yeshe Gyatso (13 years old), who go away to school and come home during holidays, her third daughter, Pema Phuntsok (2 years old), and her youngest daughter, Pema Metok (1 year old).

The owner of the house is a typical Tibetan man, humorous and outgoing.  His wife Jigme Dolma is smart and efficient, the eldest daughter, Quzhu Bamao, is proficient in Chinese, and also cooks well. There are two lively little girls who are learning how to walk.

2018-04-05 tibetan family home
Pema Phuntsok (2 years old) and Pema Metok (1 year old) ensure there is never a dull moment!

Yingxi Gazhuo cooking in the family home…


2018-04-05 Qinghai panorama
Geng Qiu Jiang Cai scanning for Snow Leopards


Livestock, pets and vehicles

The family has one cat, two dogs, more than 80 yaks, three horses and a pickup truck.

2018-04-03 Yak herder girl with calf
Yingxi Gazhuo, 14 years old, helps herd and milk the yaks every morning, as well as taking care of the newest members of the herd.

Living conditions

The house is located on the open hillside, with a beautiful view of the Mekong river.

In the whole pastoral area, this host family has good condition, the interior decoration is bright and clean, the ground is laid with leathery floors. There are sofa, TV, stove and independent gas stove in the living room, and the basic necessities of life.

2018-04 accommodation family 3
The sleeping area.. lots of warm blankets provided!

This family has many friends. They often come to the home to sit or sleep. Guests can also sleep in the living room, but the host family gets up before 7 o ‘clock every day and starts to brew tea. 

Unusually the eldest daughter is a vegetarian, and the kitchen utensils (frying pan, shovels and chopping board) are divided into two sets of meat and vegetables, which are suitable for strict vegetarians. 



Basic household goods are complete. Home equipped with power, emergency lights, gas stove, washing machine and some commonly used medicines.

Surrounding wildlife

In the nearby area the family have seen Snow Leopard, Leopard, Lynx, Pallas’s Cat, White-lipped Deer, Blue Sheep, Red Fox, Glover’s Pika, Himalayan Marmot and Otter.