China – Sichuan Tour Description

Day 1 
Arrival at Chengdu International Airport. We will meet our Guide at the airport and he will take us to our hotel in Chengdu. The Jing Chuan Hotel 4**** is located at the joint point of Du Fu’s Thatched Cottage, Taoism Qingyang Palace and Temple of the Marquis of Wu. Close to the hotel we will find The Baihua Tan park. This park is interesting for birding and we will take some time in the afternoon to have a look and to see our first Chinese birds.
The hotel has 180 rooms, well furnished and equipped with modern amenities to make your stay comfortable. The onsite restaurant provides a rich selection of Chinese, western and local cuisine for you to feast on.

Day 2
will start the day with some birding in the nearby Baihua Tan Park. After that we will drive (240 km) to our next destination at Wawu Mountains. The drive will take approx. 4 hours . Wasushan is the largest National Primeval Forest Park in Sichuan. There are more than 3500 species of plants and about 300 different bird species recorded in the area. 
We will stay in the Wawu Shan Grand Hotel 4**** for three nights. The hotel, located at the foot (1200 m) of the mountain, is the best hotel in the area. From the hotel the key area for birding is around 15 km drive up into the foothills.

Day 3
we will drive for 30 km to the cable car station, which we will use to go to a higher altitude of around 2000 – 2500 m. The birding is normally very good in this area. Birds we could see are Ashy-throated, Great, Brown, Fulvous, Golden and Grey-headed Parrotbills. 17 different warbler species such as Ashy-throated Warbler, Emei Leaf Warbler, Bianchi’s Warbler, Buff-barred Warbler. Chinese Blue Flycatcher, Black-streaked Scimilar Babbler, Grey-hooded Fulvetta, Elliott’s Laughing thrush and the beautiful Red-winged Laughing thrush. We will have lunch at the summit. The weather at the summit can be very variable. Fog and rain are common and it can be cold, even in June.
Day 4
we will look for birds along the road we had taken the day before to go from the hotel to the cable car station. This is an area with evergreen broad leaf woodland interspersed with cultivated areas.
Going in the early morning and at dusk gives the best possibilities to see the colourful Pheasants. The Lady Amherst’s Pheasant and Temminck’s Tragopan are endemics here. 

Day 5
Today we will have a long drive (330 km) from Wawu to Rilong via Ya’an, Baoxin and Jiajin Mountains. The scenery during the transfer will be stunning. We had earlier planned to go to Wolong, where the Panda breeding station was located, but the only comfortable hotel in Wolong has been completely destroyed by the earthquake in 2008. The roads have just been repaired after this catastrophe and are okay now. We will stay in the New Siguniang Mountains Hotel(4****) located in Rilong town. From here it is only 35 km to the summit of Balang Shan (mountain pass). It is the best hotel in this area and we will stay here for 3 nights and use it as the basecamp for the 2 full days birding in the Balang Shan mountains. 

Day 6
will have an early start driving for 70 km on good roads to reach the Pass at an altitude of 4200 m. The pass is beautifully located between the endless snow mountains. We will have a packed breakfast and packed lunch to make use of the best parts of the day. On top we will be looking for the Tibetan Snowcock, Snow Partridge, Chinese Monal, Grandulas, White-eared Pheasant, Firethroat, Golden Pheasant, Alpine Accentors, Lammergeier, Red-breasted Rosefinches, Himalayan Griffon Vulture, Mountain-Finches, Mountain Hawk Eagle, Snow Pigeon, Red and Yellow-billed Choughs. Targets on the mid-slopes include both Barred and the mighty Giant Laughing thrushes and lower down we’ll scan the skies for White-throated Needletails. Nor will we neglect the mammals, the park boasts reasonable populations of Himalayan Marmot, both Blue Sheep and Black Bear and of course the Giant Panda. 

Day 7
we will go birding again in the Balang area. Depending on the results of the day before we will go up again or go to a lower area (around 3300 m). It might be possible that the Panda breeding Centre has been reopened for visitors. In that case we will have a look at this important centre. 

Day 8
Maerkang (Capital of Kham district) is a really absorbing Tibetan town, where the vividly painted Tibetan houses provide a stark contrast to the buildings in the areas previously visited on this tour. As several different sects of Tibetan Buddhism are practiced around Maerkang, there are some really interesting cultural attractions and architecture in this fascinating town. 
We will drive from Rilong to Maerkang (270 km) on good roads. We shall make several stops to look for such birds as Chinese White-browed Rosefinch, White-winged and Collared Grosbeak, Hill Pigeon, Blue Rock Thrush and Wallcreeper, Sichuan Jay, several Pheasants, Black Woodpecker and many more. This transfer will take us the whole day.
Our hotel in Maerkang (for 2 nights) is Jiarong International Grand Hotel. This 4**** hotel is constructed in Tibetan style and has a broadband Internet connection. 

Day 9
Mountain Forest is definitely one of the best places for birds in central China, and only 45 km from our hotel in Maerking. We will again take a packed breakfast and lunch to make use of the best part of the day. We will spend all day in the wonderful coniferous forests on Mengbishan. The forest covered slopes are home to such specialities as Sichuan Jay, Przewalski’s Nuthatch, Three-banded, Chinese White-browed, Common, Beautiful and Pink-rumped Rosefinches, Blood and Koklass Pheasants. The more open areas could provide us with views of family parties of White Eared Pheasants and maybe even Verreaux’s Monal Partridge.
It is a good place to walk around, along quiet roads. This area is also good for raptors. On a good day we can see 6 -8 different raptor species.

Day 10
Our drive today is 250 km over good roads and with beautiful scenery. We will pass the attractive rolling wide-open grasslands at the extreme eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Moving further onto the plateau, passing tented camps of Tibetan Yak herders and fields full of yaks. We will be constantly scanning for more specialities such as vociferous Chinese Grey Shrikes, comical Hume’s Groundpeckers, hulking Tibetan Larks and both White-rumped and Rufous-necked Snowfinches. The birding up on the plateau is much easier than in the forests and most of the specialities are reasonably easy to find. The Ruoergai wetland is the breeding area and habitat for black-necked Crane and is listed as the most important wetland in the world. With a bit of luck we will also find here the Eurasian Eagle-Owl or a Saker Falcon.We will stay in the Da Zang Shendi Hotel for two nights. This 4*** hotel looks from the outside as a construction side but inside it is a nice a cosy hotel 

Day 11
Forest is located west of Ruoergai at around 30km and a very good birding site. It is worthwhile to walk down from the summit into the valley (8km along the road) which probably will give us some good birds such as Chinese Monals, Chinese Grouse, Crested Tit Warbler and Chinese Nuthatch.
The Flower Lake at 60 km from Ruoergai on the road to Gansu Langmusi is a beautiful place to visit and with stunning birds. 

Day 12
will leave the Tibetan plateau this morning passing the spectacular La Ma Ling Pass to the airport at Chuanzhusizhen. The roads are good and we will have numerous stops to search for species such as Daurian Jackdaw, Snowy-cheeked Laughing thrush, White-cheeked Nuthatch, Ring-necked Pheasant, Songar Tit, Hoopoe, White-backed and Chestnut Thrushes and the endemic Pere David’s Laughing thrush.
In the afternoon we will fly back to Chengdu.For those who book the Cultural Extension you will get a national flight to Xi’an.

Day 13
Today we will fly back home.  

Extension to Tibet

Day 1
We will take a connecting flight to Lhasa where we will arrive in the early afternoon. Our guide will be at the airport and he will take us to our Hotel in Lhasa (at a distance of around 100 km) for a rest after a long day of travelling. We will stay in theTibet International Hotel. This hotel is located next to Lhasa River.Lhasa lies at an altitude of 3,658 m. The city, also known as Sunlight City, is the highest city in the world. The mineral resources are very abundant. The city is enriched with copper, iron, silver, granite, marble, and plaster etc. The city has many Buddhist monuments and was the seat of the Dalai Lama. Flocks of pilgrims have been making their pilgrimage to the city for centuries. Lhasa is the heart and soul of Tibet and it really is a city of wonders.
For the strong ones we can organise some birding along the river and in the neighbourhood of the hotel. 

Day 2
We will stay in and around Lhasa. It will be a cultural day with visits to the Potala Palace and the Barkhor Street around the Jokhang Temple. 

Day 3
Key ornithological attractions in Tibet include Tibetan Eared Pheasant, Derbyan Parakeet, Black-necked Crane, Tibetan Blackbird, Brown-cheeked Laughing thrush and Giant Babex. The Xiongse Valley, with its famous monastery located at Caina Village at about 30 km from Lhasa is widely regarded as one of the best places to see Tibetan Eared Pheasant. We will spend the whole day birding in the Xiong Se Valley and around Lhasa. 

Day 4
Today we will drive 260 km one way to Namtso Lake and birding en route. We will stay at hotel Pe ma at Dangxiong 2**, this a very basic hotel, but there are no better alternatives.Namtso Lake, the “Heaven Lake” is the 2nd largest salt lake in Tibet, situated at the edge of Qiangtang Plateau to the north of Lhasa, at an altitude of about 4719 metres, 70 km from the east to the west, 30 km from the north to the south, covering an area of 1940 sq km. It is inhabited by large flocks of birds both resident and migratory such as black lipped pikas, bar headed geese, black necked cranes and many other species of birds. 

Day 5
Today we will birdwatch again around the Namtso Lake and slowly find our way back to Lhasa. 

Day 6
After breakfast we will go to the airport and fly back to Chengdu, where we will meet the rest of the group.  

Cultural Extension

Day 1
Your city guide will wait for you at the airport and take you to your hotel in the centre of Xi’an.
Bell Tower Hotel, is a four star business and tourism hotel built according to five star hotel standard, opened in 1983 and refurbished in 2003. Only standing in your room can you enjoy the beauty of Bell Tower and Bell Tower Square. Bell Tower Hotel Xian offers 300 guest rooms. Each room is equipped with TV, air-conditioning, bathroom, and other necessary facilties. Chinese & Western style restaurants, newly decorated, can offer a wide range of Canton cuisine and European buffet.
You can spend the afternoon relaxing or looking around in the city. 

Day 2
you will have a city tour including a visit to the famous Terracotta Warriors.Xi’an is the capital of Shaanxi province, located in the centre of China. Historically the city has been very important. As much as 13 dynasties, including Zhou, Qin, Han and Tang had their capital in this place. It is therefore not surprising that in Xi’an and the surrounding areas many historical monuments can be seen.
The most famous “monument” is the Museum of Terracotta Warriors and horses, also called the Eighth Wonder of the World. The terracotta figures are lifelike in size and design, and made as the Royal Guard must have looked like in those bygone days. The museum covers more than 16.000 m2 and there are 3 sites where interesting pieces have been found. In total there are 7000 figures and horses discovered, of which many of have been restored.
The discovery of the Terracotta Warriors is so important, that in 1987 it has been added by Unesco to the list of most important cultural legacies. In the late afternoon you will fly to Beijing, where your guide will meet you at the airport and take care of transport to the Beijing Friendship Hotel your hotel for three nights. 

Day 3
The Friendship Hotel (Beijing youyi binguan) is located in the commercial and business district of Beijing, adjacent to the city’s Silicon Valley and several technical institutes and universities. Only a stone’s throw from the Contemporary Shopping Centre (the largest shopping centre in Beijing), the Friendship Hotel is the largest four star garden hotel in Asia offering services for tourists, business travellers and long term guests. 
The hotel is uniquely Chinese in style.There are 26 different Dining Halls on the premises serving Continental and Chinese food and the various restaurants can accommodate a total of 3000 people. 
Your guide will pick you up after breakfast to visit the Summer Palace. This can also be a place to see some of the birds living in the city. In the afternoon you will visit the Forbidden City and the famous Tian’anmen Square. Probably there will be some time left to look around in the centre of Beijing.

Day 4
Today you will leave Beijing going north to visit a part of the Great Wall and the famous Ming Tombs. The Great Wall of China is a series of stone and earthen fortifications in northern China, built originally to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empire against intrusions by various nomadic groups. 
The Great Wall stretches from Shanhaiguan in the east, to Lop Nur in the west, along an arc that roughly delineates the southern edge of Inner Mongolia. The most comprehensive archaeological survey, using advanced technologies, has recently concluded that the entire Great Wall, with all of its branches, stretches for 8,851.8 km 
The Ming Dynasty Tombs (photo left) are located some 50 km due north of urban Beijing at a specially selected site. The site was chosen by the third Ming Dynasty emperor Yongle (1402–1424), who moved the capital of China from Nanjing to the present location of Beijing. After the construction of the Imperial Palace (the Forbidden City) in 1420, the Yongle Emperor selected his burial site and created his own mausoleum. 

Day 5
The end of the Cultural impression of China. Your guide will take you to the airport , where you will get your flight back home.

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