Extravagant Yak. These two words contain our value for excellent service and cultural authenticity. We specialize in providing rich and authentic, personally crafted travel experiences in Tibet. Equally at home in the lap of luxury or in the warm hospitality of a nomad tent, we deliver tailored attention to detail on every unforgettable journey. All of our tours are designed for those who consider a sense of adventure and a dose of curiosity essential travel ingredients.
We love what we do. With a local Tibetan as your guide, we ensure an authentic experience of one of earth’s highest and most mysterious cultures. We are founded on the belief that travel should result in being rewarding and life changing – for both the traveller and the host culture.
Our 20+ years combined experience in the region has only increased our desire to discover more of Tibet’s endless treasures and meet more of her people. Accordingly, each member of the Extravagant Yak team is partial to different corners of this highland sanctuary of culture, scenery, and epic adventure.
We love hearing a good story. We love telling ours even more. On one winter adventure in Tibet in 2007, a seed was planted. Garrett Jones and Jim Hamp made the three-day overland bus journey to Dege – the cultural capitol of Kham Tibet nestled in the mountains of the Golden Sands River valley. The two were simply seeking what all travelers do: the joy of companionship while quenching a thirst for adventure and a curiosity for the unknown. As sometimes happens on such trips, they returned with much more than some nice photos.
Unaware at the time, the trip would eventually prove fatal to their life’s direction. It was a slow death. The combined experience of rich cultural authenticity, stunning natural beauty, and warm friendliness of the Tibetan people became the seed of inspiration to do it again (and again) with others. And many years later that inspiration has now grown into a passion. That passion is what defines Extravagant Yak: a company committed to offering you a truly personalized Tibet travel experience to some of the most geographically extreme and culturally fascinating corners of the world.
Lead guide “Abu” with Garrett & Jim – in Garze
Our sustainable ethic works because it’s people-centered. Investing what we have for the benefit of others is simply the best way to live. Because this is foundational to us as individuals, it has naturally come to characterize our corporate culture. We consider our success as a company to be inseparable from our ability to foster positive, long-term change beginning at the grassroots level. For this reason, we not only invest corporately (10% of profits), but also get involved personally.
Our sustainable ethic inspires others to become greater than they ever imagined. We’ve discovered the secret to changing the world is not in size of budget but in empowering others to achieve their dreams. Our greatest joy is in helping others discover that they too exist to change the world. That is why Extravagant Yak invests deeply in relationships and exists to provide employment and educational opportunities to local communities.
If you share that dream, you’ll like us.
We’ve seen how creating educational opportunities such as sponsorship for students from poor families can result in a domino effect of positive change for an individual, a family, and a whole village. We’ve seen how partnering with specialists who introduce new agricultural or health care methods can improve the livelihood of a whole valley. We’ve seen how medical assistance to rural Tibetans can help them get the quality care they deserve. Some find relief from conditions they’ve had for years and are now able to return to the workforce to provide for their family.
Tibetpedia is a free resource we provide on the web for the benefit of Tibetan communities. It has two purposes: to provide fellow travellers with the most relevant and practical insider information on Tibetan travel, and to promote Tibetan owned small businesses of excellence so that visitors can enjoy the best of Tibetan service and hospitality. It is an expression of our commitment to benefit local communities across Tibet by telling the world about the excellent small businesses they represent. The project launched in June 2016 and is ongoing and ever growing!
Student Sponsorship Programme
As we travel thousands of kilometres each year on the Tibetan Plateau, we encounter students with promising academic futures but whose dreams are hindered by their family’s economic situation. Extravagant Yak believes student sponsorship in such situations to be one of the most strategic and effective ways of alleviating poverty in this region. More importantly, student sponsorship goes a long way to restoring hope to families by empowering them to face their future with real employment potential.
2. Responsible Tourism Practices
Large portions of tourism resources in Tibetan areas fail to benefit businesses run by the local people. Instead, businesses owned and operated from outside these areas often receive the majority of benefit. We are committed to ensuring locally operated businesses benefit from the tourism resources in their locale. When this is not possible, we seek partnership with businesses that share the same value and express it in other ways: hiring local employees, purchasing from locally run businesses, and generally promoting the best possible interest of Tibetan run businesses.
We encourage Extravagant Yak guests to be sensitive to our host cultures, as if they were honored guests in someone else’s home. We also have the privilege of going as life-long learners, and there is much to learn about life, perseverance and devotion from our Tibetan neighbors. These postures help us build bridges of trust and mutual respect which can then allow true friendship to happen.
3. Conservation & The Environment
If you find yourself on an Extravagant Yak Backcountry Cycling or Trekking tour, you may be employed with some trail-litter collecting. We make a point of leaving our sites much cleaner than we found them. Also, in effort to reduce plastic bottle waste, Extravagant Yak regularly filters water and/or brings large 18L water dispensers for refilling personal bottles.
For years we have admired the vision and work of Plateau Perspectives, a non-profit organization that aims to promote conservation and sustainable development in the Tibetan Plateau region of China. Their creative solutions to preserving and protecting the ecology of this region while promoting sustainable livelihoods in this fragile alpine environment is second to none. In this regard, they have also been one of the leaders on the Tibetan plateau in developing responsible practices in the area of ecotourism. Extravagant Yak is privileged and excited to play a supportive role in their important work.
4. The Client
The client? Thats right, it is not only the best interest of local businesses that need protecting. The tourism industry in China is predominantly a commission-based system fuelled by low wages for tour guides which then compels them to take clients to tourism sites and related businesses that offer kickbacks to the guides. This is typically done with blatant disregard for the wishes and interests of the client. We exist to set a much-needed new standard in the tourism industry within China by offering fair wages to our guides to ensure the best interests of the client are protected.
If you have further questions about Extravagant Yak’s sustainable ethic, please feel free to contact us.
We believe that great service in Tibet begins long before you arrive. After receiving an inquiry form from you, we’ll reply within 24 hrs with further details as per your request. We consider the details to be something for us to major on so you don’t have to. Our goal is that you experience peace of mind about your trip well before you depart. To that end, we provide you with a thorough pre-trip information pack, along with checklists, to help you arrive feeling prepared and rested.
We believe some things should remain immune to the more negative aspects of globalization. Upon arrival you will meet… us! Unlike other tour companies who operate outside of China and sub-contract your tour to handlers, we are locally owned and operated in China. We are based in Chengdu – the gateway city to Tibet. From your arrival to your reluctant departure, we maintain full control of your tour experience and make it as rewarding as possible.
We consult with you beforehand to ensure your utmost satisfaction along the way. Our extensive experience, relationships, and knowledge of local culture will take you beneath the surface of this rich region. Extravagant Yak itineraries include off-the-beaten-track tourism gems that are absent in much of Tibet’s mass tourism. We enjoy the challenge of indulging our guests’ whims and pride ourselves in going the extra mile.
We believe an immensely satisfying tour depends on extraordinary local guides. Our guides are personally chosen and highly trained. They are as dedicated to your tour experience as we are. Their friendliness and attention to detail will be a highlight to your trip and a good reason for you to return! (No, you can’t take them home with you).
We also believe in majoring on certain indulgences. Breakfast, for example. We know an unfamiliar fuel first thing in the morning is like putting diesel in a gasoline engine. Even when in a more remote area, we ensure you have a choice: omelette? pancakes? muesli? something local? Coffee or Tea? Merlot or Chardonnay? At Extravagant Yak, we major on variety, … and much more.
Should your itinerary include travel to some of the more remote places, we will ensure you experience the best that the host culture has to offer. Some of these places do not offer four-star hotels, but we take responsibility for comfort and cleanliness at all of our arranged accommodations. We never go farther than you are willing to go. In venturing to these hard-to-reach places you will be exposed to some of the warmest hospitality on earth. You will happily discover, as we have, the extravagance of Tibet in the warmth of a smile and a fresh bowl of tea.