15 days Small Group Tours 15th - 29th Oct 20177th - 21st May 2018Register for 2018 via our enquiry form Tailor make this journey and make it yours

Price

$6595 AUD per person twin share

$934 AUD Single supplement

Inclusions

  • Return airport transfers
  • 14 nights accommodation
  • 14 Breakfasts, 12 Lunches, 12 Dinners
  • Hard sleeper from Kunming to Dali
  • Private air conditioned vehicle
  • English speaking tour leader
  • All entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • Scrubba Wash Bag

Exclusions

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • 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

The tropical southern reaches of the Yunnan province forms the furthest, deepest regions of the Chinese empire. The history of the region is peppered with proud and distinct minority peoples, an ancient tradition of growing China’s fourth and lesser known variety of tea, “Pu’er”, a rich and fragrant tea that works wonderfully as a digestive and, of course, as a vital link in the Southeast Asian ‘Southern Silk Road’, trading jade, tea and silk between Burma, China, Laos and Thailand. Visitors to the region find themselves immediately slowing down to the pace of life which the local people have lived by for millennia.

Day 1 - Arrival in Kunming

Welcome to China! Upon arrival in Kunming, you will be met at the airport before heading straight out to explore the capital of the Yunnan province. Kunming is one of the most attractive cities in China, famous for its temperate climate, and the traditions and customs of its ethnic groups. Today you will visit the Bamboo Temple, Golden Temple, and the flower & bird market. After dinner, you will board the train to Dali (approx. 6 hrs train ride).

Overnight Hard sleeper.

Day 2 - Dali

This morning you will arrive in the ‘Switzerland of the Orient’, Dali, the home of the Bai nationality who founded their kingdom 1200 years ago. You will be met and transferred from the train station, visiting the Three Pagodas of Chongsheng Monastery, built in 823AD. From here, explore Erhai Lake by boat, witnessing the ways of the local fisherman and their specially trained cormorants waiting on the edge of the boat for their turn to do the fishing. Visit the lakeside village of Xizhou, an old town around 25km north of Dali, where you will encounter the Bai people, wandering through their local markets where traders and merchants from the deep valleys of the surrounding landscape gather to ply their trade. You will also visit the uniquely constructed local households, know as ‘san fang yi zhao bi’. Constructed in the form of an enclosed compound, with rooms on three sides and a screened wall on the fourth. You will also this afternoon visit a traditional hand-made clothing workshop. (B,L,D)

2 nights at the Landscape Hotel (A Bai style hotel).

Day 3 - Cangshan Mountain

This morning after breakfast you will set off on a day hike through the Cangshan Mountains (4-5 hrs). Starting from the old town, taking the ropeway up to the ZhongHe temple. From here, you will begin your hike along the Jade Belt Road to Gantong Temple. Hop your way across boulders amidst a wild stream cutting deep into the canyon, and take the opportunity of a refreshing swim. Continuing on, you will witness the highest peak of the Cangshan, Malong, soaring 4122m into the sky, its snow capped summit never thaws. Many streams flow from the mountain, and the area is lush with vast collections of plants and trees. Enjoy a picnic lunch before heading along another trail, returning back to Dali old town. (B,L,D)

Day 4 - Lanping County

This morning you will visit one of oldest and most traditional villages of Yunnan, Nuodeng village (approx. 3hrs, 165km drive), with the opportunity to stretch you legs and explore some local villages along the way.

Known as the most important point of the tea and horse trail in western Yunnan, Nuodeng is the oldest economic town of the Bai Nationality. Nestled at the foot of a hill, beside a stream, Nuodeng village features more than 100 local-style dwellings and is also home to many temples including Yuhuangge Pavilion, Wen Temple, Wu Temple, Dragon Temple and Squared Gate, built in the Ming and Qin Dynasties.

Take your time and wander the streets of the ancient village and drink tea with the locals. Continue driving to Lanping County (approx. 89km) via the Tongjinqiao Bridge. (B,L,D)

Overnight Lanping Xindu Hotel

Day 5 - Shaxi

This morning after breakfast you will make your way to Shibaoshan (approx. 1.5hrs, 90km). Home to temples, grottoes, statues and rock carvings dating back 1300 years, offering an insight into the life and customs of the Bai people in Dali and the history and culture of the Nanzhao Kingdom during the 9th century.

After your visit to Shibaoshan, continue on foot for approx 2hrs down the mountain to Shaxi. Once a bustling marketplace, Shaxi is the last remaining market town on the Tea & Horse Caravan Trail, also known as the Southern Silk Road. Once a trading route that connected Sichuan, Tibet and Yunnan to countries in south east Asia. Shaxi is nestled in a flat fertile valley surrounded by mountains, cut by the Heihui River. Much of its culture and landmarks are well preserved due to isolated location.

This afternoon, you will meet your host family, where you will have the opportunity to experience life as a local, learning their traditions and culture. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a local Guest house.

Day 6 - Liming

This morning you will bid farewell to your host family before visiting the Friday Market in Shaxi, full of locals doing their daily batering and bantering. Contiuing on, drive to Jianchuan County (approx. 1hr), where you can learn about traditional arts at a wood carving factory. Following lunch in Jianchuan, continue driving to Liming via the Yangtze River valley. Time permitting, you may stop to visit the ancient town of Shigu on the banks of the upper reaches of Yangtze River.

Arriving in Liming, you will explore the town, then continue on to the truly spectacular Danxia Landform, known as ‘the eye candy of Zhangye’. Formed by the erosion of red sandstone, forming isolated peaks and steep stratified outcrops. Its special geological structure, combined with long-term desert conditions , freeze-thaw peeling, wind and water erosion gave rise to its stunning oil painting appearance. (B,L,D)

Overnight at Nuomadi Hotel or similar.

Day 7 - Thousand Turtles Mountain

This morning after breakfast, it is time to hike Thousand Turtles Mountain. Reaching the summit, you will be greeted with spectacular views over the landscape. Explore the unusual rock formations or just take a well earned breather as you soak in the views. From here, follow the Golden Sand River and continue on as you drive up to Weixi (approx. 3.5hrs). Time permitting you may have the opportunity to stretch your legs and explore some of the Tibetan and Lisu people’s villages you pass along the way. (B,L,D)

Overnight Weixi Deluke Hotel or similar.

Day 8 - Feilaisi

Today you will drive to Deqin County. Enroute you will visit Xiao Weixi Church, Shouguo Temple, and the Catholic Cizhong Church. During the mid-nineteenth century a French missionary disguised as a Chinese merchant travelled on the Tea and Horse Road. He spent two years in the Dongzhulin monastery near Benzila, and having mastered the Tibetan language, set out to build missions in northern Yunnan. French and Swiss missionaries followed and settled in this remote region of Yunnan province. (B,L,D)

2 nights Feilaisi Hotel or similar.

Day 9 - Deqin Glacier

Rise early this morning to witness sun rise over the peak of Meili Xue Shan, or ‘Meili Snow Mountain’, followed by an early morning visit to the Feilai Monastery. Originally constructed in the Song (960-1279) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties, and under going renovations through the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynisties, it was an important monastery on the Yunnan-Tibet Road and is a place for Tibetans to pay homage to the sacred mountains. From here, you will travel by car and on foot to get closer to Mingyong Glacier. Flowing for several kilometres, it is fed by snow which falls on the 6,740m high peaks of Meili Snow Mountain, it is sacred to the local people. An easy 2 hour walk leads up to the Taizi Temple, from where you will have your first stunning view of the Mingyong Glacier.

For those with extra energy, you can continue further up to the Lianhua temple. There are horses available for those who do not want to visit the Mingyong Glacier on foot. (B,L,D)

Day 10 - Zhongdian

Today is a long driving day. It will take 6 to 7 hours to reach Zhongdian. On the way, you will see Dongzhulin monastery, Shusong nunnery, a mud-pottery workshop in Nixi village, the town of Benzilan (an important transfer town between Yunnan and Tibet) and Baimang Snow Mountain, the largest and highest nature reserve in Yunnan with fantastic views of snow peaks, glaciers, lakes and forests. Enjoy the spectacular views of the lush meadows, ancient Tibetan villages and the stunning scenery on the way. Zhongdian is set on a high plateau and marks the start of the Tibetan world. The town’s Tibetan name is Gyeltang or Gyalthang. Due to its altitude above 3000 metres it can be quite cold, so warm clothing is advised. Yaks can often be seen grazing on the plains. (B,L,D)

2 nights Zhongdian International Hotel.

Day 11 - Zhongdian

Today enjoy a day hike (approx, 4-5hrs) to Dabao temple. Built on a rugged green hillside at an altitude of 3,300m it is one of the earliest Tibetan Buddhist temples constructed in Zhongdian.

At the foot of the hill where Dabao Temple is situated, there are two springs, their waters endowed with magical power. The left one is said to be the reincarnation of the Six Chanting Mantras of the Goddess of Mercy, while the right one is that of the wisdom of Bhodisattva Manjusri, who is regarded as the symbol of wisdom in Buddhism.

It is an ideal place to relax and experience Tibetan culture, their houses scattered among lush farmlands of barley, potatoes, and turnips, surrounded by green meadows and wild flowers. You will visit a local family, where you can try their homemade yak-butter tea.

Returning to the city, you will visit Songzanlin monastery, the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan. The main halls are magnificent, on both the left and right sides are wonderful frescos, depicting Buddhist tales and legends. The inside halls are exquisite, decorated with beautiful sculptures and consummate frescos. The monastery is full of treasures accumulated from each dynasty, by people of both Tibetan and Han nationality, including golden figures of Buddha, golden lamps, silver censers and Tibetan lections. (B,L,D)

Day 12 - Trek Tiger Leaping Gorge

Today you head towards Qiaotou and the Tiger Leaping Gorge – stretching about 15km, and believed to be the deepest gorge in the world with drops of 3000m in some sections. Looking down the steeply angled mountainsides, witness the rushing Golden Sands River with its 18 rapids more than 200 metres below. Naturally divided into three sections, the first section, which is the narrowest and uppermost section, is the mouth of the fast flowing Jingsha River. In the midst of the river’s mouth is a large rock that is positioned at the gorge’s narrowest section – only 30m wide.

An ancient legend says that a tiger used this rock as a stepping-stone so it could leap across from one side of the gorge to the other. Thus, its name. You will trek for approx. 15km, through remote villages and magnificent scenery. Trek up the Haba Mountains (1 hour to Zhong Luo Yu village at 2250m, another 1.5 hours to ’24 Bends’ at 2650m, another 1.5 hours to ‘Two Families’ at 2320m, and 2 hours to Bendiwan at 2410m.

Tonight, you will have the opportunity to live like a local, meeting your host family and staying in their home. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a local guesthouse.

Day 13 - Trek Tiger Leaping Gorge - Lijiang

This morning bid your farewells to your host family before continuing your trek. The total trekking distance today is around 14km, from Bendiwan to the Walnut Grove (Da Shen Gou at 2060m), where you will be met by your driver and transferred to Lijiang, a large Naxi settlement first built during the Southern Song Dynasty.

Lying in a broad, fertile valley dominated by the towering, snow-capped peaks of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Range, the ancient city of Lijiang, with more than 800 years of history, was registered on a list of the world’s major cultural heritages by UNESCO in 1997. The well preserved old city has a fascinating mix of ethnic minorities with brilliant culture. It is built along the line of mountains and the flow of rivers, providing a very precious example of old-time architecture. With Sifang Street at its core, the entire city spreads out in all directions, and is crisscrossed by a labyrinth of streets, alleyways and stone bridges. Most of the dwellings, scattered at the foot of a mountain or lying by the river banks flowing through every corner of the city, are brick and tile structures with carved doors and painted windows. The afternoon in Lijiang is at your leisure. (B,L,D)

2 nights Lijiang Manxin Hotel or similar.

Day 14 - Baisha Naxi Village

This morning after breakfast, enjoy a bike tour to Baisha Naxi Village, with is traditional houses built of adobe (mud brick), wooden struts and beams, usually decorated with fish designs. Try your hand at cooking local food, visit Shuhe village and Black Dragon Pool, where you will witness its lake that sparkles like Jade. Continue on to Dongba Museum where you can learn about the Dongba culture and then take a wander through the local markets. (B)

Day 15 - Departure

This morning following breakfast, transfer to Lijiang airport for your onward flight. (B)