Pre-extension to Gaoligongshan area
Arrival at Chengdu International Airport. Most travellers from Europe fly with KLM from Amsterdam to Chengdu. This flight arrives according to schedule at 12.15 at Chengdu. We will take a connecting flight to Kunming. At Kunming Airport our local guide will wait for us and bring us to the 4**** Golden Spring Hotel, here we can relax after a long day of travelling
Day 2 - 5
This morning we will do the last part of our travel, a flight (departure at 10.55) of around 50 minutes to Baoshan. From here we will drive to the Baihualing Nature Reserve.
The Gaoligongshan region at the border with Myanmar is ecologically unique; a major crossroads of north and south, east and west, temperate and subtropical. The continuous belt of forest from east to west and over the crest of the mountains provides an unparalleled opportunity to observe the spectacular mix of ecological communities. This explains the extremely rich fauna and flora in this region.
We will visit the Baihualing Nature Reserve with a special permit for the lower part of the reserve up to 2.500 m. The higher areas (except the Southern Silk Road) have been designated as a protected area with no visitors allowed.
We will stay inside the Nature Reserve. The accommodation is simple but clean, with private bathrooms.
Birds at Baihualing Nature Reserve include: Sclater’s Monal (high elevations only), Silver and Mrs. Hume’s Pheasants, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Ward’s Trogon (rare), Brown Wood Owl, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, White-bellied Green Pigeon, Long-tailed Broadbill, White-winged Magpie (rare), three species of shortwing including Gould’s, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Spotted, Grey-sided, Blue-winged, Scaly and Red-tailed Laughingthrushes, Coral and Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Grey-bellied Wren Babbler, Black-headed Shrike Babbler, Yellow-throated Fulvetta and Beautiful Sibia. Arguably Baihualing’s greatest avian attraction however is Cachar Wedge-billed Wren, a species that’s not uncommon here. Dark-rumped Swift has also been reported here.
We will fly back (departure at 12.25) to Kunming today, where we will join the group doing the main tour only.
In the afternoon we will drive to Chuxiong, where we will stay in the New Century Hotel, a 4 **** hotel part of a well known hotel chain. We will stay here for 2 nights
Arrival at Chengdu International Airport. Most travellers from Europe fly with KLM from Amsterdam to Chengdu. This flight arrives according to schedule at 12.15 at Chengdu. We will meet our Guide at the airport and he will take us to Wenjung Mansion Hotel. This attractive courtyard-style hotel is situated on one of the most tourist-friendly streets in the city, Qintai Lu, surrounded by buildings of a similar Han and Tang Dynasty style. The courtyard is a perfect place for tired travellers to relax with a drink after a long journey.
This morning we fly to Kunming, the Capital of Yunnan Province, where we will meet the group from the Pre-extension to Gaoligongshan.
In the afternoon we will drive to Chuxiong on the highway (2 - 3 hours), where we will stay in the New Century Hotel, a 4 **** hotel part of a well known hotel chain. We will stay here for 2 nights.
Visit to the Zixishan Nature Reserve.
Yunnan Zixishan Nature Reserve in Central Yunnan was established in 1982 and covers 160 km² of which 18,000 hectares is natural forest land, with 1,500 hectares classed as 'sacred forest'. In the buffer-zone area around the Reserve there are 27,000 resident Yi people in 270 hamlets. Traditionally, the sacred forests were preserved by local people for water and plant worship. Since 1982, the area's designated buffer-zones have been co-managed by local communities and the Reserve. The altitude in the Nature Reserve varies from 1.800 - 2.500m.
Zixishan boasts 1,500 plant, 136 bird and 60 animal species. Zixishan is teeming with camellias (large, broad-leaved, evergreen shrubs with large, waxy, pink and white flowers which bloom from winter to spring). According to botanists, people in Zixishan began planting camellias 1,000 years ago. Zixishan was once the holy land for Buddhists. Many temples and monasteries were built on the mountain, although now most of them are in ruins.
The Zixishan Nature Reserve has been classified by Birdlife International (in 2009) as an IBA (Important Bird Area)
Zixishan Nature Reserve is a good place for Giant Nuthatch, Yunnan Nuthatch, Tree creeper and Ms Hume’s pheasants!
We will leave in the morning for Dali (2-3 hours drive). Dali is a historically and culturally famous city of China, which is most renowned for its historical interest. Dali City stands against the Cangshan Mountain in the west and adjoins Erhai Lake in the east, and is embraced by undulating hills. We will stop at interesting places to observe birds, flowers or plants. We will stay in the Landscape Hotel 4**** at Dali for 2 nights
Today we will visit the Cangshan Mountain, a great place for bird watching as well as for a great variety of plant species.
We will drive up the hill with some stops along the way to see the flowers of the area. The Cangshan Mountain, also known as Diancangshan, is named after its verdant forests. The Canshan Mountain is a chain of the Yunlin Mountain of the Hengduan Mountains. Starting at Eryuan in the north and ending at Xiaguan in the south, it measures 42 km in length and 25 km in width. Overlooking the Erhai Lake in the east, the Cangshan Mountain displays its great splendor and the scenery is unique. The Cangshan Mountain comprises 19 peaks, the highest of which is Malong Peak at an elevation of 4122m. It is snow-capped all the year round with a moraine lake on the summit. There are 18 brooks running down the 19 peaks. The snow-melted water between every two peaks rushes down and converges into the Erhai Lake. Cangshan Mountain boasts a rich vegetation of numerous rare flowers, trees, and other plants. It is called a national alpine botanical garden. You can find many alpine flowers , of which azaleas are the most famous in the Cangshan Mountain.
Cangshan Mountain is home to 128 species of bird, amongst others Mountain Bamboo Partridge, Kalij Pheasant, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Large Hawk Cuckoo, Black Woodpecker, Great Tit, Red-billed Blue Magpie, Red-breasted Parakeet and Grey-headed Parrotbill.Day 6
We leave Dali to go to Lijang. We can drive this distance in about 3 hours, but we will stop at interesting places to look for birds, flowers or plants. Lijang is a wonderful picturesque old town in the region that borders Tibet. The mountain and lake scenery is breathtaking. We will stay in the Wangfu 4**** hotel for 2 nights. Day 7
We will spend the whole day birding and looking for flowers and plants. There are several very good places to go, near or a bit further from Lijang.
Black Dragon Pool near the old town is a very good place for birding, as well as for plants and flowers. This is the best site in China for Giant Nuthatch. This place has been famous for botanists to collect plants in the area.
Another very good place is the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain which can produce many interesting species of birds such as Buff-throated Partridge, Rufous-tailed Babblers and both Alpine and Maroon-backed Accentors.
In the morning we will visit Lashi Lake. This lake provides habitat for 198 bird species — 77 of which are migratory shorebirds. This area has the greatest abundance of bird species in Yunnan. As many as 80,000 birds migrate to this wetland during winter. Three are National First-Ranked Protection species: the Black Stork, Black-necked Crane and Hooded Crane. Later on we will drive into the Mountain and visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge which drops down 3900m from the top of the mountain to the Yangtze River.
Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world, is a canyon on the Yangtze River (locally called the Golden Sands River), located 60 km north of Lijiang City. Around 16 km in length, the gorge is located where the river passes between the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Snow Mountain.
Legend says that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point (still 25 metres wide), hence the name.
It is one of the UNESCO World Heritage natural preservation sites with rare species of animals and plants in an “ecological hotspot.” We expect to see interesting birds here and many different plants and flowers.
The Haba Snow Mountains are rich in wildlife and plant resources. The nature reserve extends 22 kilometers from south to north and 19 kilometers from east to west. About half of the 13,000 kinds of plants in Yunnan can be found here. The primeval forest serves as a valuable scientific research base. In addition, there are more than 900 varieties of rare medicinal materials, more than 25 species of protected animals at the national level and about 50 kinds of azalea.
We will stay overnight at the middle of the Gorge in Tina's Guesthouse, which has basic accommodation with private bathrooms.
Drive to the Baishuitai Terraces and carry on to Shangri-La (Zhongdian) via some mountain passes at 400m. We will make some stops to see different kinds of Azaleas and many other flowers on the way.
We will stay for 2 nights at the 4**** Zhaxidela Hotel, a nice place in Tibet style.
We will spend the whole day birding and looking for plants and flowers. There are many options in the region.
Napa Hai is a seasonal lake in Zhongdian. The Napahai Lake is 3270 meters above sea level and covers 660 square Km. There are mountains on three sides and 10-plus rivers flow into it after zigzagging through the grasslands. Many rare birds inhabit the area in winter. Rare birds such as black necked crane, bar-headed goose and mallard flock to here for winter. Actually Shangri-la is home of the black necked crane, a rare and endangered species with a population of around 10,000 around the world. This area is one of the best places for birding.
We can drive to Deqin in 4 hours, but we will take the whole day with many stops in and around the Baima Snow Mountains to look for birds, plants and flowers.
Between the Yangtze River and the Mekong River is the Baima Snow Mountain, with perennial snow-capped peaks. An area of 180,000 hectares around it is designated as the nature reserve, with a perfectly preserved primeval forest vertical landscape and valuable animals and plants. The Yunnan Snub - nosed Monkey, the first class protected animal in China, lives in this area. as do many species of plants like peony, rhododendron, and begonia that are wild ancestors of our garden plants. The Azalea Forest at Baima Mountain is regarded as one of The Top Ten Most Beautiful Forests in China ranked by China National Geography Magazine.
We will stay at the 4**** View Paradise Hotel near Deqin for 2 nights.
On this day, we will look for birds and plants near Deqin along the Mekong River. Deqin is a town located in the Hengduanshan Mountains (altitude 3550m). 80% of its 55,000 inhabitants are Tibetan.
A small piece of Tibet, accessible without expensive permits. Deqin is a superb base to walk around and look for plants and flowers
We will drive back to Benzhilan, where we will stay for the night. During the transfer we will have again make many stops in and around the Baima Snow Mountains
We will stay the morning in the region and in the afternoon we will take a direct flight from Shangrila (Zhongdian) back to Chengdu where we will stay for the night at the Wenjung Mansion Hotel
Departure back home.