As part of the mission of SnowLion Tours, we aim to improve the welfare of Tibetans by supporting local communities in meaningful ways. Through creating jobs, buying directly from local farmers and small businessmen, passing on daily necessities to nomad families, and donating to a nearby orphanage, we strive to integrate our social engagement into our business practices. While we welcome individuals who are interested in participating in some of these endeavors, we take care not to impose any obligations on them. Our community work is private in nature and remains separate from our pricing.

Kumbum Shambaling Orphanage School

Established in 2004 by Samdrip Tsering, a Tibetan scholar and artist, the Kumbum Shambaling Orphanage School is home to 75 Tibetan orphans. The mission of the orphanage is not only to support orphans but also to preserve traditional Tibetan culture by educating children in traditional thangka painting, embroidery, and stone carving. Additionally, students may take classes in Tibetan, Chinese, English, basic computer, and other subjects. Already 120 have graduated from the school and now live independently. However, despite the school’s success, it is severely lacking in facilities and financial support. At SnowLion Tours, we work to help raise money for the school, donate winter clothing, introduce homeless children to the school, and assist in getting the young artists’ paintings on the market. We regularly visit the students and visitors to Xining are welcome to join us on a trip there.

Working with Nomad Families

On our trips we frequently visit nomad families in order to share our local culture with visitors to Tibet. Nomads are known for their generous hospitality and do not ask anything in return for our visits. Nonetheless, as a way of practicing responsible tourism, we pass on to them daily necessities for life on the harsh Tibetan plateau. Fresh fruits and vegetables are welcome gifts to those who live far from town, thick clothes and blankets provide warmth in winter, and sunglasses help nomads protect their eyes against damage from sun exposure. We also donate cooking stoves after camping trips, as the nomads find these small stoves immensely helpful.

Buying Locally

Whenever possible, we buy our goods directly from farmers, nomads, and local businessmen. Through the practice of buying locally, we help preserve the environment, bolster the local economy, and strengthen our community. We encourage visitors to Tibet to join us in this endeavor by patronizing local Tibetan businesses.

Creating Jobs

All guides, drivers, porters, yak handlers, and cooks we hire are local Tibetans. Working as a guide offers young Tibetans an opportunity to earn a living while sharing their intimate knowledge of local culture. Nomads who serve as our porters and yak handlers have a chance to supplement their incomes while providing essential services for our hiking trips. We ensure that all of our staff are treated well and paid fairly. In the instances that we hire non-locals, we select them on the basis of their expertise and long experience in Tibetan regions.

Protecting the Environment

The ecosystem on the Tibetan plateau is extremely fragile. We desire to see our Tibetan culture and traditions last for generations to come, so we do our utmost to arrange travel in the most ecologically friendly way possible. We teach Leave-No-Trace principles and conduct site clean-ups after camping. Please join us in minimizing the environmental and cultural impact we have when traveling.

Are you interested in learning about more ways of serving Tibetan communities? See our blog posts on Responsible Tourism in Tibet in addition to Volunteering in Tibet.