Best time to travel to Tibet

Yaks in Tibet

These unique animals are an essential part of Tibet's scenery. Although there are a lot of domesticated yaks, there is also a huge number of wild herds to see

Best time: May–October


Yak is a sacred animal in Tibet. Around 85% of world's yaks live here. This animal can survive at high elevations and in the hard Tibetan environment. Yaks are kind and patient, no wonder they were the first animals domesticated by the local people. They help people to transport goods and are very useful for farmers and traders. Their milk and meat are part of the local diet.

Although yaks have poor eyesight, they have an excellent sense of smell and perfect hearing. Male yaks can be from 1.75 m to 2 m tall at the shoulder and weight from 300 to 1,000 kg. Their horns are about 42 cm long and 35 cm in circumference. Yaks are mainly black, but there can also be grey and white ones.

Wild yaks are usually larger than domestic, have different colours, and a larger bushy tail. Wild yaks live on plains, hills, and mountains at an altitude of 4,000 m. That's why the best time to observe them is summer.

They avoid warm areas and during summer months migrate to higher elevations. They live in herds that can vary in size from a few to a hundred individuals. The rut season runs from July until September. During this season their unusual vocalisations can be heard. Calves are born between April and June. Their lifespan is approximately 25 years. Their only predators are wolves. But they will defend themselves and try to keep together and scare away predators.

Practical info

What is the significance of yaks in Tibetan culture?

Yaks have a vital role in the everyday life of Tibetans, who consider them sacred. Yaks provide transportation, dairy products, and meat, as well as maintain their traditional nomadic lifestyle. Show more

What are the unique characteristics of wild yaks compared to domesticated ones?

Wild yaks are bigger with thicker hair and massive horns than their domestic counterparts. Wild yaks are adapted to survive in the harsh Tibetan environment and can live at high elevations. But, unlike domesticated yaks, they are not docile and can be unsafe for people. Show more

When is the best time to observe wild yaks in Tibet?

To observe wild yaks in Tibet, you should go from May to October, the summer months. Wild yaks migrate to higher elevations during this time, where they feed on the grasslands and hills. They can be elusive and tend to avoid humans, making them challenging to spot. Show more

How do yaks protect themselves from predators?

Yaks depend on their massive size and strength to fend off predators like wolves. They tend to group together when threatened and intimidate predators by stomping and bellowing. Bull yaks may also use their horns to defend themselves, and they can charge predators when threatened. Show more

What are some other uses of yaks in Tibetan life, besides transportation and food?

In Tibetan life, yak is a versatile animal that is highly respected, and people use it in many ways. Yak's hair is useful for making clothing, blankets, and ropes, their dung for fueling, and their milk for cheese, yogurt, and butter. People also use yak's hide for clothing and shoes. Besides, they use yaks in traditional Tibetan medicine for their therapeutic properties. Show more

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