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Travel to Nomad Camps. There are an estimated 2 million Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas that practice some form of nomadism. For centuries these nomads have ranged across the grasslands of the Tibetan plateau with their grazing herds of sheep, cattle, goats and yaks. About half a million Tibetan nomads live on the Chang Tang, a huge, remote, 15,000-foot plateau rimmed by mountains. Tens of thousands of other Tibetan nomads can be found in other remote regions of Tibet. The nomads in the Phala region of the Chang Tang live in small camps consisting of two to eight tents. They herd yaks, sheep and horses, and reside throughout the year at sites ranging from 16,000 to 17,500 feet, which makes them the highest known resident native population in the world.
Most herders and nomads live in Nagqu prefecture—a 4,500-meter-high, 446,000 square kilometer region on the Qinghai-Tibetan plateau that accounts for 37 percent of Tibet Autonomous Region. Nagqu has the largest pastoral area and the highest productivity in the region. Breeding livestock accounts for 70 percent of the prefecture’s income and more than 90 percent of Nagqu residents make their living from it. Nagqu accounts for one third of the Tibet Autonomous Region’s animal husbandry.
Nomadic tents are a vital source of housing for nomads living in mountainous regions of Central Asia. They are usually made from yak wool that has been hand spun into yarn and takes about a year to make a mid-sized tent.
Tibetan tents on the contrary are very thin in comparison where the sky can be seen through the hand spun yarn inside the tent. Nomad tents are held up using hand spun yak wool rope and 8 to 12 wooden poles. The top of the tent has a large opening that is used to let smoke out and to let the warm sunshine in. Prayer flags is abundance will always be flying outside across the top.
The inside of nomad tents are very basic as the nomads, often very poor, own few belongings. Inside there will be some sleeping mats and blankets, a stove, a table or two, a few extra clothes and a little food. Nearly all tents will have a picture of a local lama and often will have a picture of the 14th Dalai Lama. A thangka painting will also be found hanging inside.