China’s Southwest harbors some of the most pristine, least discovered and diverse lands you can find in Asia. We have spent many years here encountering vibrant minority communities, eating exotic street food and mapping out unique excursions in wild nature. Together, we’ll look for a genuine connection between you, the locals and the environment, and make sure that all parties maximally benefit.

“Most people are on the world, not in it. ”

John Muir



If you really want to go deep and experience the culture and nature of your destination in the most hands-on way, you can consider to join us on one of our seasonal expeditions. These itineraries get the most out of the destination with a more outdoorsy focus or along a certain theme. Feel free to inquire about join-in possibilities, but on request, the expeditions can be organized privately!
Learn more about our seasonal expeditions.


3 February – 13 February 2020

3 February – 13 February 2020

The Southern Tea Road

The Ancient Tea Horse Road is a series of trading routes crisscrossing Southwest China. This tour explores the southern section of the Tea Road, namely, the prefectures of Puer and Xishuangbanna in Yunnan Province (straddling both sides of the Mekong as it exits China into Laos). This is the zone of tea production where most of the tea was grown. The tea was harvested, processed, steam compressed into ‘cakes’ and transported by horse and mule caravan on long-distance journeys over countless rivers and mountains to places as far away as Lhasa and beyond. The tea is still grown arboreally as trees in large groves. Many are several hundred years old and not a few have been dated to over 800 or even 1000 years. The local trees are used to make a distinctive kind of tea called ‘puer tea’. The tea groves are tended by a diverse array of ethnic peoples, some of whom are probably among the first peoples to ever harvest, cultivate and enjoy tea as a beverage. As an item that binds a diverse array of different people into a shared culture tea is thus an integral and rich part of the social life and history, and indeed future, of Yunnan.


18 April – 1 May 2020

18 April – 1 May 2020

The Azalea Adventure

The Laojun Massive is hidden away from visibility right in the heart of the province’s northwest. Every spring, we organize a Rhododendron viewing expedition around the mountain in a clockwise fashion, properly honoring the fabulous natural surroundings. Although this hiking expedition is relatively accessible, we will be camping on outstretched Yak fields, alpine lake shores, and deep old growth primary forests. The trekking portion is 6 days and 5 nights, and the rest of the time we will use to explore the amazing cultural heritage of the Dali-Lijiang area, all in the periphery, away from the masses.


6 June – 19 June 2020

6 June – 19 June 2020

The Holy Lake

We have excavated some excellent trails on the old roads from Lijiang to Shangri-La. These routes were by no means the primary roads, but the ones that evaded groups of bandits active on the more well-traveled roads. These lands on the brink of the Tibetan plateau are mostly controlled by the Yi, and we will traverse the Celestial Heaven Mountains with our skilled Yi caravaneers. We have designed the most stunning mule trekking route possible, through the site of one of the most pristine alpine lakes in the province. Tasting the elements, moving along winding mountain paths with a deep history, through high altitude old-growth forests where bandits used to roam, practically getting from one old trading town to the other, we will have the feeling we are truly reliving the times of China’s Wild West.

5 September – 21 September 2020

5 September – 21 September 2020

The Tibetan Yoga Adventure

In the summer of 2020, we will ascent the Tibetan plateau to do one of our most exciting trips yet. We will blend our intimate knowledge of the Great Outdoors around the Genie Mountain in Litang with a masterclass in the unique Tibetan yoga exercises known as Lu Jong. This tour will be a traverse from the northwest of Yunnan all the way up to the 4000+ meters plateau deep in the Tibetan parts of Sichuan. Our aim is to get as intimate as we can with the Tibetan ways of life and do that through the careful practice of Lu Jong Yoga and the appreciation of the formidably pristine nature around us.




Our private tours are all conveniently accessible from any other place in China but focus only on interesting off-the-beaten path destinations in the periphery. With our private tour examples, we fully celebrate the diversity and possibilities of this area. They can be privately organized year-round so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us to get your own customized version for anytime you want to visit!
Check out more of our year-round private tours.




“I had the great privilege of flying twice into space, once aboard ‘Columbia’ and once aboard ‘Discovery’. My third favorite trip (over these now 75 years) was the touring we did with you through Yunnan.”


Joseph P. Allen, Washington, USA


“We got to SEE, HEAR, SMELL, TASTE and TOUCH nature in its full beauty. We enjoyed every minute and highly recommend traveling with Frank and Yang Xiao – both are smart, easy going and super friendly. Till next time!”


Hava Kelman, New York, USA


“Our guide spoke *our* language and culture, and the language and culture of our hosts. He introduced us to his Chinese world, took us to eat at places we would never have found on our own, caused to happen spontaneous experiences that we would never have stumbled into. And all the while, he translated what we were experiencing into cultural terms we could understand. If you have the opportunity to tour Yunnan with Zouba Tours, take it!”


Robbie Burnstine, Boston, USA