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Yunnan Adventure at Tiger Leaping Gorge

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Yunnan Adventure: 9-day
Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Zhongdian-Kunming

Highlights:

• Trek through Tiger Leaping Gorge, which according to Lonely Planet is the best hike in all of China
• Explore Zhongdian, otherwise known as Shangri-La, a town once thought to only be a work of fiction. This paradise is a wonder to behold, and it will be an experience you will never forget
• Spend a day at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, China’s best ski resort and the southernmost glacier in the Northern Hemisphere

B=breakfast; L=lunch; D=dinner  Departure: Upon booking

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Tour code:
AYN-26
Day 1: Arrive in Lijiang

Arrive at the Lijiang airport, where our English-speaking guide will meet you. Lijinag is a city in Yunnan Province, in southwestern China. Our guide will take you to your 4 star hotel, named the Grand Hotel, located in the city. The evening you can spend at your own leisure, but we recommend that you explore the Lijiang Old Town. The Lijiang Old Town is a well-preserved city of ethnic minorities that houses brilliant culture. There are many bars and cafes, along with traditional dancing and music shows. It is always lively, and is an excellent way to spend your night in Lijiang.

Day 2: Lijiang-Jade Dragon Snow Mountain-Lijiang (B+L)

After breakfast in the hotel, we will head out to one of the great scenic spots in China, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Ski Resort is the highest ski resort in China with an elevation of 4,500-4,700 meters above sea level.Dragon Snow Ski Resort has long been famous for its pure, unspoiled, natural snow resulting from its high altitude. The Ski Resort is around 4500 meters to 4700 meters above sea level and is covered with snow all year around. The ski parks measure 1,000 meters in length and 600 meters in width.

The first place on the mountain we will go to is the Ganhazi Meadow, a vast meadow at an altitude of 3,100 meters (10,171 feet). Just as its name implies, it had been a highland glacial lake before the 1940s and was formed after the water had dried up. Dry Sea is located at the east foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and is only 25 kilometers (15.5 miles) away from Lijiang Old Town. Then we will come across the Baishui River. The first impression that Baishui River leaves for you is the crystal clear water. The source of the river is the melting snow on the nearby mountain, and after undergoing a process of filtration on the nearby rocks, the water pours into the river a gorgeous clear color. In summer, you can stand in the water and feel the cold it brings to you, as the white stones in the water can be seemed clearly, making the river more crystal and transparent, so it has attained a reputation as " Baishui River"(White Water River).

Then we will take a chairlift to visit the Yak Meadow (at an altitude of 3700 meters). On the Yak Meadow you can enjoy the scenery of alp snowfields, the stream of Black Water River and the peace and serenity of the virgin forest.

In the afternoon we’ll stroll through Baisha Village. It is the earliest settlement of the Naxi people (the chief ethnic minority of Lijiang), and is the birthplace of "Tusi", chief of the Mu clan. In the town there are many ancient buildings built during the Ming Dynasty, including Dabaoji Palace, Liuli Temple, and Wenchang Palace. The well-known Baisha Frescoes are located in Dabaoji Palace. The architectural complex is made up of two parts, folk residence and cultural sites. The folk residence is called "pengshizhi" which in the local language means "Baisha Streets". The streets all go from south to north. In the center of the old town there is a square where three thoroughfares intersect. Houses and small stores stand on the both sides of these streets. A crystal clear stream winds around all the houses flowing through the small town from north to south.

The highlight of the Village is the Baisha Frescos. The 44 pieces of Baisha frescos were drawn in the early Ming Dynasty. Most of the paintings are about religious stories of Taoism, Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism. The murals embody the artistic characteristics of the Naxi, Tibetan, Han and Bai ethnic groups. Among them the paintings about Kwan-yin and Sakyamuni are the most famous ones. Now Baisha Frescos, also known as Lijing Frescos have become precious data for the study of China's history of arts and religions.

Following our visit, we will return to the hotel, and you can spend the night at your discretion.

Day 3:
Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge-Tea Horse Trade Guest House (B+L+D, 5-6 hours of hiking)

After breakfast we will make the 2.5-hour drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the world’s deepest gorges, and is tucked in between Jade Dragon now Mountain and Haba Mountain. At a length of 17km (10.5 miles), Tiger Leaping Gorge is the birthplace of the ancient Lijiang culture, whose people lived in the many caves, big and small, in the side of Yulong Xueshan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain). These caves were naturally formed houses. In some caves, rock paintings and artifacts shedding light on the life of these primitive peoples were found. The rock paintings have now become another attraction of Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge is regarded as one of the top ten hiking trails in China. At the mouth of the upper gorge, squeezed by the two snow-capped mountains and further blocked by the huge Tiger Leaping Boulder, the Golden Sand River is only 25 meters in width. The water there makes violent whirlpools and hits the banks so powerfully that soaring breakers are created. This really makes boating treacherous. However the high waves, soaring water, and the mountains shrouded with clouds and mist constitute the most magnificent scenes of the gorge and attract numerous brave explorers.

We will hike for two hours to Naxi’s Family Guesthouse, and have lunch. Then we will continue to hike another 2 hours further up the steep 28-bends and it will be worth it, because the views there are remarkable. The top here is 2670 meters above sea level. After another 2-3 hours on the way we will arrive at the Tea Horse Trade Guest House. You can shower, have a replenishing dinner of the local cuisine, and get a good night’s sleep.

Day 4: Tea Horse Trade Guest House-Heika Village (B+L+D, 5-6 hours of hiking)

After early breakfast at our guesthouse, we will walk down to visit the Middle Rapids of the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge. We’ll trek from the Middle Rapids along the Jinsha River and, this hike will last about 3 hours. Our destination, Heika Village,is a traditional Naxi village.

The forefathers of the Naxi were a nomadic clan of Qiang people from north China. Between the 1st and the 10th century they migrated southward to Yunnan and settled there. According to historical documents, the forefathers of the Naxi people were closely related to a tribe called "Maoniu Yi" in the Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD). But the designations they used to describe themselves as an ethnic group depended on the region in which they lived, i.e., to which enclave they belonged. The term used might be "Na", "Naxi", or "Mosuo", depending on this geographical distinction, though there is some debate over whether the people calling themselves Mosuo are indeed Naxi, or perhaps belong to a different nomadic tribe originating in Tibet (the Mosuo, in contrast to the other Naxi, form a matriarchal society).

After exploring Heika Vilalge for a bit, we will continue our hike along the shore for about an hour, then we will then return to Heika where we will stay at a local inn.

Day 5: Heika Village-Haba Village (B+L+D, 6-7 hours of hiking)

We will take our breakfast at the inn, and then set off for our hike to Haba Village. We should arrive there in time for lunch. Haba is an interesting township beneath the Haba Snow Mountain. The local minorities include Naxi, Hui (Muslim) and Yi peoples, as well as the odd Tibetan. It is primarily of interest to hikers and those who enjoy exploring remote and more traditional villages. The town along the road is inhabited by a small number of Han people plus a mix of local minorities, the area above the road towards the mountain is home to two Hui (Muslim) villages, each of which with its own mosque. Further up the mountain is an Yi village. Further down the valley, beneath the road is a lush agricultural area inhabited by Naxi people.

After lunch we will explore the landscapre around Haba Village. The Haba Snow Mountain stands by the Jinsha River, 120km southeast of Zhongdian (Shangri-La), with its main peak of 5,396m. The attraction of the Haba Snow Mountain and the surrounding area is its alpine moraine lake, endless tracks of azalea flowers and cluster of waterfalls cascading down snow-covered cliffs. The glacier on the Haba Snow Mountain is the southernmost glacier in China.

Day 6:
 Haba Village-Baishuitai-Zhongdian (B+L+D)

In the morning after breakfast we will meet our driver who will drive us 3-4 hours westward to White Water Terrace, known in Chinese as Baishuitai. White Water Terrace in Naxi (the local ethnic minority group) means 'growing flower'. Not only a place of beautiful scenery, it is also one of the birthplaces of Dongba Naxi culture, which is widely known around the world. White Water Terrace occupies an area of about 3 square kilometers with green plants and springs setting off each other, just like a "field in heaven".

Then we will finally reach the mythical, yet real, Shangri-la. The English writer, James Hilton’s legendary novel” Last Horizon” wowed readers with a paradise, characterized by snow-capped mountains, vast grasslands, lush vegetation, gorgeous gorges and idyllic lakes. Shangri-La is also a popular jumping-off point for those who are traveling to Tibet. We will spend the night at a local inn, and you are free to spend your night exploring this heaven on earth.

Day 7: Zhongdian (Shangri-La) (B+L+D)

Our first site to explore in Zhongdian is the Songzanlin Monastery. This Large Yellow Hat (Gelupa) Tibetan monastery has returned from the ashes and destruction that swept southeastern Tibet in the late 1950s and 1960s. Songsenlin was founded in the 17th century during the reign of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama , when the yellow Hat school came to full ascendancy in Tibet . it lies a few kilometers beyond the north end of town and welcomes visitors who behave respectfully.

The monastery once had as many as 1200 monks before, and now claims many hundreds, though most of these stay at home and work with their families , only coming together as a single body on area festival occasions . In 1980 the second delegation sent by the Dalai Lama to investigate conditions in Tibet stayed in Zhongdian, and since then there has been steady reconstruction at this sacred site.

Then we will make the short drive to the Pudacuo Nature Reserve Park. This is a protected wetlands area that has a primitive forest of coniferous trees lakes, and lies 3,539 meters above sea level. Two lakes that accentuate the beauty of this park are the Shuda Lake and the Bita Lake.

We will then spend our night exploring the old sections of Shangri-La. Here a large number of people perform the Tibetan folk dance Guozhuang. They all join hands, form a circle, and follow the principal dancer. The cheerful atmosphere may entice you to join them in the dance. Also you can pay a visit to the Tibetans' houses. In their houses, you can appreciate (for a modest fee) folk dance performances and taste the meat of baked lamb and yak.

A prominent old section is named Dukezong Ancient Town. Dukezong has another beautiful name, Moon Town. Perhaps, ambling along the stone-paved lanes with a full moon hanging in the sky above Shangri-La, you will feel the romance of it all. If not, on a street called Pijiangpo there are many bars, it's the most prosperous place in the ancient town. In your spare time, take a look.

Day 8: Zhongdian-Kunming-Stone Forest-Kunming (B+L)

In the morning you will be taken to the airport and will take a short flight to the city of Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. Upon arrival you will be met by our guide and taken to the Stone Forest, which is about a 1-hour drive. Being one of the National Scenic Resorts in China, Stone Forest Scenic Resort is 83km (51.5) from Kunming and has a complete range of karst formations. From afar, it really looks like a dense forest but as you walk closer, you will find "trees" are all slender stone pinnacles. The sight is vast covering some 350 kilometers. The Yi and Sani ethnic group who live there are hardworking and good at singing and dancing. Their folklore and culture are colorful and multifarious, backed up by a long history.

After exploring the vast stone forest we will drive back to Kunming, where you can spend your night exploring the city’s vibrant nightlife that features everything from traditional dancing shows to snack markets. The Kundu Night Market is a popular place for the university students to hang out.

Day 9: Exit Kunming (B)

You will be driven to the airport, where you will catch your flight to your next destination, thus ending your tour.

Stuff to bring:
• Sturdy shoes or boots, sunglasses and sunscreen
• Bug spray and any other items needed in dealing with the tropical heat
• Tips for a job well done by your guides and drivers, money for any personal expenses not mentioned

 

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