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 meet the real people of China: farmers, workers and everyday people. With them we eat delicious homemade food, drink Chinese wine, and even stay with them in 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: From here the Yangtze takes us to the precipitous heights of the eastern Tibetan plateau. This is a hidden world of grasslands, jagged glaciated peaks, yaks, cowboys, monasteries, and colorful markets that few outsiders have seen. We dine with Tibetans and hopefully learn something about their country-within-a-country struggling for identity.
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.
|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|
|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 Xiangcheng||In the morning we visit to the lively Ganden Sumtseling Gompa – the biggest Tibetan monastery in Yunnan and home to 600 monks. Then we have a spectacular full day drive through the foothills of the Himalayas into Sichuan Province, to the small town of Xiangcheng.|
|Day 13||Xiangcheng to Litang||Visit Xiangcheng’s Tibetan monastery with views across the valley and traditional villages, then drive to Litang. Tonight there’s the opportunity to enjoy a local dinner in a typical Tibetan house.|
|Day 14||Litang||A full day to explore the grasslands that surround Litang. We will camp where nomads often set up tent to graze their animals.|
|Day 15||Litang to Ganzi||A full day drive through some incredible mountain passes to the lively market town of Ganzi.|
|Day 16||Ganzi toYihun Lake||A morning to wander amongst the bustling markets, hike along the river or explore monasteries and stupas amidst the beautiful jagged mountain scenery. After lunch we take a short drive to Yihun Lake where we’ll be setting up camp.|
|Day 17||Yihun Lake||A full day to hike or ride a horse around the pristine turquoise waters of the lake fed by mountain glaciers. We camp another night.|
|Day 18||Yihun Laketo Dege||A morning drive to Dege, near the Tibetan border at the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.|
|Day 19||Dege to Ganzi||After visiting the famous printing monastery, where many Tibetan Buddhist texts are printed and housed, we drive back to Ganzi.|
|Day 20||Ganzi to Kangding||An early departure for the full day’s drive to Kangding.|
|Day 21||Kangding to Chengdu||Today we descend from the mountains to Chengdu in the heart of Sichuan Province.|
|Day 22||Chengdu||Tour ends|
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