Heart of China

Heart of China Tour

The tour runs simultaneously with ‘In Search of the Yangtze’, but with the focus on the heartland of China with visits to the Naxi and Tibetan regions of Southwest China.

The Yangtze River, the longest in Asia, cuts a path through many important and beautiful regions of China.

Shanghai: The Yangtze meets the sea in Shanghai, an unlikely metropolis mix of futurescapes and relics of bygone eras that offers us a glimpse into China’s future. But this is only the beginning. From here the river leads us on a quest to find the whole story, the real China. As we meander upstream we encounter the real China: farmers, workers and small businesspeople. We’ll be able to share their delicious homemade food, drink Chinese wine, and even stay in local farmhouses.

3 Gorges: We are taken on a personal tour by experienced local adventure guides, combining hikes and local boat rides through the beautiful Three Gorges. From the breathtaking heights of Goddess Peak, down to tributary canyons of waterfalls, monkeys, and the mysterious hanging coffins of the Tujia people we see the area up close. From the locals we can get the inside story, from mythical tales of the Warring States period to the hardships brought by the world’s largest dam, a controversial project cum technological marvel we will see firsthand.

Southwest China: As we climb to the upper reaches of the river, we are taken through a different part of the story: that of the minority people of China. In Lijiang – a village of myriad canals and waterwheels – and the Tiger Leaping Gorge we meet the Naxi people, a matriarchal, animistic society that uses their own intricate pictograms as words. We stay in a Naxi farmhouse and trek through stunning scenery and remote hamlets perched high on the gorge walls.

Tibetan Plateau: We continue to Shangrila, well within Tibetan territory, where we will visit the spectacular Ganden Sumtseling Gompa monastery, home to 600 monks.

Chengdu: The tour finishes in Chengdu, a city of spicy food, Sichuan opera, tea houses and the Giant Panda Research Center, where pandas often play in the morning and can be seen up close.

Because we have chosen the Yangtze River as our guide, we have a unique glimpse of a world seen by few.

  • Shanghai
  • 3 Gorges Treks, Goddess Peak and local boats including a farm stay
  • 3 Gorges dam site
  • The cobblestones and myriad canals of Lijiang
  • Tiger Leaping Gorge trek along cliffs and Naxi villages
  • Shangrila’s spectacular Ganden Sumtseling Gompa monastery, home of 600 monks
Transport Plane, private and public bus, local Yangtze River boats, hydrofoil and taxi
Flights Shanghai to Yichang, Chongqing to Lijiang
Fully Escorted By tour leader
Activities Hike to 3 Gorges farmstay and to Goddess Peak, hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge, camp in Litang grasslands, horse riding at Yihun Lake
Accomodation 3 nights homestay, 2 nights camping, 2 nights guesthouses, 14 nights hotels
Meals Not included. Allow $10/day.
Entrance Fees Not Included
Elevations From Shangrila to Chengdu elevations in excess of 3000 meters (9840 ft), above 4000 meters (13120 ft) in Litang, Chola Pass near Dege in excess of 5000 meters (16400 ft), time is allowed for acclimatization of all elevations
Physical Rating Moderately active
Visa Chinese
Temperature Maximum of 35°C (95°F) in lowlands, a minimum nighttime of 8°C (47°F) in Shangrila
Not Included Entrance fees, meals, airfare to and from China
Day 1 Shanghai Arrival day.
Day 2 Shanghai A full day for sightseeing in Shanghai. Optional evening boat cruise on the Huangpo River.
Day 3 Shanghai to Yichang Transfer to Shanghai airport for a morning flight to Yichang, where the impressive 3 Gorges Dam is nearing completion.
Day 4 Yichang to Goddess Peak Homestay Morning visit to the 3 Gorges Dam project. After lunch transfer to the boat docks to take local boats to Badong and the mid Wushan Gorge where we stay with a family opposite the beautiful Goddess Peak.
Day 5 Goddess Peak Homestay Today we hike up Goddess peak, with stunning views of Wushan Gorge along the way. We will stop for lunch at a farmer’s house and return to our homestay in the afternoon.
Day 6 Homestay to Chongqing Early wake up for sunrise in the gorges. After breakfast take a boat to Wushan and then on to Chongqing – the end point of the 660km long dam – by ferry and bus.
Day 7 Chongqing to Lijiang Transfer to Chongqing airport for a flight to Lijiang in Yunnan Province.
Day 8 Lijiang A full free day to wander the stone paved streets of Lijiang old town and learn something of the local Naxi culture. In the evening there’s a chance to watch a Naxi Minority musical performance and savour some of the local food.
Day 9 Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge Drive to Qiaotou for the start of the Tiger Leaping Gorge hike. Today we hike for 2 to 3 hours and stay in a traditional Naxi family courtyard house inside the gorge. In the evening you can enjoy a wonderful home-cooked meal and watch the sunset over the mountains.
Day 10 Tiger Leaping Gorge A full day hike through the dramatic Tiger Leaping Gorge. We spend a second night inside the gorge at a guesthouse in one of the most spectacular areas with views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Day 11 Tiger Leaping Gorge to Shangrila A morning drive from Tiger Leaping Gorge to the amazing limestone rock formations at Baishuitai. After lunch we continue our drive up into the mountains to the fabled Shangrila where we stay in the Tibetan style old town.
Day 12 Shangrila to Chengdu In the morning we visit to the lively Ganden Sumtseling Gompa – the biggest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan and home to 600 monks. Then transfer to Lijiang and on to Chengdu. On arrival in Chengdu you will be met by a local guide and transferred to your hotel.
Day 13 Chengdu A morning guided visit to the Panda Sanctuary. The afternoon is free to explore Chengdu’s beautiful parks and teahouses
Day 14 Chengdu Tour Ends

The Best Quest can arrange affordable airfare and travel insurance!

Questions? Contact us now!

Questions, comments, concerns? Send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.

Questions, issues or concerns? I'd love to help you!

Click ENTER to chat