$3649 AUD per person
Single supplement available on request
- 4 nights accommodation
- 4 Breakfasts, 4 Lunches, 4 dinners
- Services of an English speaking local guide
- Transportation in a private air conditioned vehicle
- Domestic flight Kunming/Baoshan/Kunming
- Scrubba Wash Bag
- International flights
- Travel and medical insurance
- All services, meals other than those indicated above
- Any changes to the proposed and confirmed program.
- All items of a personal nature e.g. drinks, laundry, telephone calls, tips etc
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Tribes of Yunnan
Lying just below the Tibetan Plateau and abutting Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, is a mysterious land of great natural beauty with a unique array of fascinating and diverse but sadly diminishing cultures.
Spend 5 days venturing into what was once described as 'virgin land to white man' that is home to so many remote minority groups. Dance around bonfires, eat traditionally prepared mountain food, hear stories of their animist religion and of their unusual facial tattooing practices.
Day 1 - Kunming to Liuku
Welcome to China’s least travelled province, Yunnan! This morning you will depart from your Kunming hotel where you will be transferred to the airport for your flight (1 hour 25 minutes) to Baoshan.
You will be met on arrival before transferring to Liuku (approx 150km). Along the way, you will stop at Baihualing village which is located on a hillside above the picturesque Nujiang Valley to see the life of Lisu people with their traditional styled houses, coffee fields, tropical fruits and witness their general lifestyle. This is an exciting village to explore! Here you will experience a local bonfire, dancing and singing with local minorities before continuing onto Liuku town. (B,L,D)
Overnight Lushui Nujiang River Hotel or similar
Day 2 - Fugong
This morning you will drive to to Fugong (approx 125km) north of Liuku and is mainly populated by the Lisu tribe. The Lisu are direct descendants of the indigenous semi-nomadic tribes of Tibet. The historic Lisu religion is Animism a belief that all things are embodied with “Spirit”, ancestor worship, and living in harmony with nature and all beings.
You will see rice terraces just outside the town centre on the slopes which follow the course of the river. The terraces are easily accessible and you will trek up the slopes where you will see the local Lisu farmers busying themselves on the terraces and also take in the view extending to the Gaoligong Mountains with their snow crowned peaks soaring over 4,000 metres.
You will also visit the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Gorge), which is one of the deepest gorges in the world. From the top of the gorge you look down the steeply angled (70-90 degrees) mountain sides to the rushing Golden Sands (Jingsha) River with its swirling rapids more than 200 metres below, offering wonderful photo opportunities.
In the evening, enjoy a bonfire with the local Lisu people. (B,L,D)
Overnight Fugong Fuyuan Hotel or similar
Day 3 - Bingzhongluo
Today, you will travel from Fugong to Gongshan (approx 150km), with the scenery becoming more and more beautiful as you drive towards Bingzhongluo. You will encounter the twisting and turning Nujiang River (Salween River), pass through steep valleys, and see huge crags and the Gaoligong Mountains rising beyond Myanmar over the crest of incredible picturesque green hills.
Along the way, you will pass the famous Shi yue liang, the so-called “bright moon in the mountain”, about an hour outside of Fugong, and source of many Lisu and Nu folkstories. You can also try crossing the Nujiang River hanging from a rope, the Liusuo, a traditional way to cross the river in the olden days when there was no bridge. In the afternoon, you will arrive in Bingzhongluo. Bingzhongluo represents the southernmost extent of the Tibetan culture, and the northernmost extent of Han Chinese influence in the valley.
In this area, you will find a small minority of the Dulong or Derung people. Their language is unwritten; in the past the Derung have transmitted messages and have made records by making notches on wooden logs.
Formerly, the women used to tattoo their faces when they reached the age of twelve or thirteen. The tattoos of some women resembled masculine mustaches. There are only a few dozen of these “face-tattooed women” left today. To see one of these ladies, is a true privilege, and to chat with one – a once-in-a-lifetime encounter.
Many of the ethnic peoples of China have tattooing customs but, according to Derung tradition, tattoos are only done on the faces of women—whereas in most other cultures they usually appear anywhere but the face. Before the 1950s, face-tattooing was still quite customary among Derung women, occurring usually at the age of 12 or 13, and the tattooing process was roughly the same in different areas of the region: first the girl’s face would be cleaned, then she would lie flat on the ground; an experienced female elder—the “tattooist”—would mix water with soot from the bottom of a wok to make the ink; then a pattern would first be drawn on her face, and when the ink had dried, the tattooist would use sharpened bamboo skewers, which would be struck with a wooden stick, to pierce the skin along the pattern—wiping away the blood after finishing each dotted line. After the entire facial pattern had been completed, the tattooist would apply to her face a treatment containing Chinese gentian (an herb with disinfecting qualities), and continuously rub it into her skin. This mixture, also containing the pan-bottom soot used earlier, must first be left to set for three days and three nights before use. After a week or two, once the wounds had healed, the patterns on the girl’s face would be indigo in colour, and thus remain that way throughout her life.
Derung women believed that face-tattooing had a protective effect which could keep them safe from evil. Derung tattoo artists can only be women and sadly have all passed away—taking their skills with them. To see a lady with a tattooed face today, is a true rarity. There are only 36 of them left from this tribe and they are all over the age of 50 and numbers are declining each year.
It is historically known that the Derung region was once under forceful reign of the Tibetans, who often traveled there to capture women. There are some rather distinct differences in the tattoo patterns used among the Derung of different areas; for example, those residing along the upper reaches of the Dulong River, closer to Tibetan territory, would tattoo almost the entire face, including the bridge of the nose, both lips, and both cheeks; whereas those along the lower reaches of the river would only tattoo a ring of dots around the nose, a few lines on the bottom lip, and some dots on the jaw, leaving much more blank space. The differences in facial area covered by the tattooing process may have been a result of the distance located from potential invaders.
Although some Derung have converted to Christianity, the vast majority continue to believe in their animist native religion. There is a belief that all creatures have their own souls. Usually diverse sacrifices are made in order to calm down the malignant spirits. The role of the shaman is of great importance since they are the ones in charge of the rituals. During the celebrations of the Derung New Year, which is celebrated in the month of December of the lunar calendar, diverse animal sacrifices are celebrated to make an offering to the sky. (B,L,D)
Overnight Bingzhongluo Nuxia Hotel or similar
Day 4 - Liuku
Today is a long drive day back to Liuku. You will go via Gongshan a small charming county with deep valleys and magnificent snow capped mountains. Described by Joseph F. Rock who travelled through here in the 1920s and early 1930s who wrote several articles in National Geographic, he described this place as the “virgin land for no white man had ever came here before” and “it’s the paradise for explorer, photographer and botanist.” (B,L,D)
Overnight Lushui Nujiang River Hotel or similar
Day 5 - Departure
Following breakfast you will transfer to Baoshan Airport for your flight back to Kunming. (B)