The endangered Yunnan Snub-Nosed Monkey – How to see the Snub-Nosed Monkey in Yunnan Province, China

Yunnan snub-nosed monkey

When you first think of wildlife in China it’s usually the Panda that comes to mind. But the little known Yunnan Snub-Nosed Monkey is a wonderfully unique animal that also makes China it’s home. If you’re interested in seeing rare and incredible wildlife in its natural habitat then read on to learn a little more about this monkey and how you can go about seeing it in the wild yourself.

About the Yunnan Snub-Nosed Monkey

What is the Yunnan Snub-Nosed Monkey?

The Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, also known as the black-and-white snub-nosed monkey or black snub-nosed monkey, is endemic to the Yunnan Province of China. It has a unique appearance with its black fur and a distinctive upturned nose, which is due to a lack of nasal bones.

Yunnan snub-nosed monkey

How rare is the Yunnan Snub-Nosed Monkey?

The Yunnan snub-nosed monkey is one of the most protected species in China. It is classified as Endangered in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
It is thought that there are 15 isolated groups left, with an overall population of approximately only 1000 mature individuals. The species is threatened by deforestation and it is estimated that over the last 40 years up to 30% of its habitat has been lost.


Where does the Yunnan Snub-Nosed Monkey live?

The Yunnan snub-nosed monkey lives exclusively in the Yunling mountain range in northwestern Yunnan and southeastern Tibet. This borders the Tibet Autonomous Region, the provinces of Sichuan, Guizhou and the Zhuang Autonomous Region of Guangxi. It is also close to the borders with Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar.

Yunnan snub-nosed monkey national park

It’s territory is limited to a 9,600 square mile area of the Trans-Himalayas, between the Mekong River to the west and the Yangtze River to the east. Here you’ll find spectacular forests, canyons, and deep valleys. It is the only primate to live at such high altitudes (between 3000 and 4500 metres) and to survive at temperatures below zero degrees celsius for several months of the year.

Seeing the Snub-Nosed monkey in the wild

Where can you see wild Yunnan Snub-Nosed Monkeys

You are able to find and view the species at Tacheng Black Snub-nosed Monkey National Park in Yunnan Province, western China. The park is located in Tacheng Town of Weixi County, Diqing Prefecture. Tacheng is 60km from Weixi county, 120km away from Shangri-la city, and 150km away from Lijiang.  

How can you see the Yunnan Snub-Nosed Monkey in the wild?

There are numerous tour operators that organise trips to the National Park, one example being Go Grand China. These tours often include transport to the park from the cities of Lijiang or Shangri-La, accommodation and a guide to take you deeper into the park to view the monkeys. You won’t be able to view them without a guide however, so its best to arrange a tour.

What can you expect on the Snub-Nosed monkey tour?

Although the monkeys are wild, every day at around 9am the park rangers feed them. This is the time at which trips into the park are arranged for. You’ll need to hike up the mountain through the forests to wherever the monkeys are choosing to reside that day, so the walk could be short or up to a few hours. You will also need a reasonable level of fitness for the hike. The feeding continues for a few hours until around midday. After this time the monkeys move further up the mountain in search of more food and your chances of seeing them decrease.

During our trip we spent a good 2 to 3 hours amongst the monkeys. We reached them after hiking for approximately 2 hours up some fairly steep but firm forest paths. This gave us ample opportunity to take photographs and observe the monkeys. I would estimate that there were between 20 and 30 monkeys whilst we were there, including many young or newborn monkeys with their mothers.

Yunnan snub-nosed monkey

What is the best time of year to see the Snub-Nosed Monkey?

You can visit year around, but it’s best to aim for the spring or summer months from May to September. During the winter months the temperature can drop below zero and snow can fall, so keep this in mind.

How to get to Tacheng

Foreigners aren’t able to rent a car in China unless you have a Chinese driving license. I therefore chose to arrange a taxi to take me from the city of Lijiang into the heart of the National Park. It is also possible to take a bus from either Lijiang or Shangri-La. At Lijiang Bus Station there are 3 buses running to Tacheng which take about 7 hours. The departure times are 07:50, 09:30, 12:00 and the cost is approximately CNY 80. 

The main international airport in Yunnan Province is at Kunming, where many international airlines fly. From the airport the nearest town to start the tour in is Lijiang. You can either take a domestic flight of approximately 1 hour or alternatively a 3 hour train ride. For trains I would recommend using to book your tickets.

You can search on for the cheapest domestic and international flights.


Where to stay in Tacheng

There are limited hotel options in and around Tacheng. Options include Qizong Dharmaa Hotel, Luyi Manor Hotel in Tacheng and Songtsam Lodges. However I stayed in the accommodation located in the headquarters of the national park itself, and this was arranged by my tour operator. As we stayed within the national park we had free time to take short walks through the grounds and enjoy the spectacular mountainous scenery around us.

Final thoughts

Viewing the the Yunnan Snub-nosed monkey was such a memorable experience, and one that I’m so pleased to have done during my trip in western China. There were only a few other tourists in our group, and it felt like a truely unique experience that not many others have been lucky enough to have.

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