1. Day 1 Depart UK

    • We arrive in Chengdu in the early afternoon and meet our local leader at the airport. We then transfer to the Labahe Nature Reserve in the foothills of the Hengduan Mountains and check-in at our accommodation. 
    • Accommodation: Hotel near Labahe Nature Reserve, 3-nights on full board basis.
    • We spend the next two days exploring the Labahe Nature Reserve in search of its excellent mammals and birds. We hope to see a diversity of species including hog badger, grey long-tailed goral (aka Chinese goral), golden-breasted fulvetta and Sichuan takin amongst many others. 
    • Labahe is known particularly as a reliable place to see red panda and we try our best to see this unique and appealing animal. This is one of the best times to look for red panda as they forage for fruiting trees in the vegetation. 
    • A final morning excursion in the Labahe Nature Reserve should hopefully provide some excellent wildlife before we set off on our journey to Wolong in the afternoon. The Wolong National Nature Reserve is found within the Qionglai Mountain range and we arrive at our next destination by the early evening. 
    • Accommodation: Hotel near Wolong National Nature Reserve, 2-nights on full board basis.
    • Today, we enjoy a full day in the Wolong National Nature Reserve, which covers an area of approximately 2,000 square kilometres. The most recent National Giant Panda Survey suggested there around 150 individual giant pandas in Wolong. The likelihood of seeing a wild giant panda is small though as they normally live in the most secluded and inaccessible areas of the reserve. 
    • Wolong is also home to many other mammal species, some of which are endangered. Thorold’s deer, Chinese serow, Himalayan marmot, red panda and leopard cat are some of the highlights that we can see here. Some of China’s most exotic and distinctive birds have been recorded in the reserve, such as Temminck’s tragopan, golden pheasant and firethroat.
    • After breakfast in the morning, we start our drive to Hongyuan in northwest Sichuan, close to the Tibetan Plateau. We have several stops on the way to break up the drive and also to enjoy the stunning scenery that passes by. 
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Hongyuan; 1-night on half board basis.
    • Due to its proximity to the Tibetan Plateau, Ruoergai is gaining a reputation as an excellent location to see some of China’s iconic cats. Pallas’s cat and Chinese mountain cat are seen with surprising regularity along with the characterful Tibetan fox. All of these predators are attracted to the region by the abundance of prey species – mostly rodents and birds. Asian badger, marbled polecat and goa (or Tibetan gazelle) can also all be found on these grasslands.
    • There are numerous lakes and marshes dotted across the vast grasslands of this plateau. The bird list for this area is very long with black-necked cranes, lammergeiers, Guldenstadt’s redstarts, merlins, hen harrier and black vulture can all be seen here – as this shows, raptors are particularly prominent in the area. 
    • Today we make the drive to Tangjiahe, which takes most of the day. Stops on route break up the drive and not only provide opportunities to stretch our legs, but also admire the stunning landscapes of Sichuan.
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Tangjiahe; 4-nights on full board basis.
    • Over the course of these three days we explore the Tanjiahe Nature Reserve by vehicle and on foot. This reserve covers 400 square kilometres and is arguably one of the prime spots to see 'mammals in the whole of China. Golden snub-nosed monkeys, takin, hog badger, leopard cat, masked palm civet, Asian black bear, Perny’s long-nosed squirrel, Malayan porcupine, complex-toothed flying squirrel and Chinese serow are just a few of the mammals in Tangjiahe. It is also thought that there are around 60 giant pandas in the reserve, but again these individuals are notoriously elusive. 
    • When it comes to birds, the Tangjiahe Nature Reserve is known for certain species – tawny fish owl, Zappey’s flycatcher, collared crow and crested kingfisher. This reserve is also one of the only reliable spots to see Przewalski’s parrotbill. 
    • We enjoy our last morning excursion in the Tangjiahe Nature Reserve before driving back to Chengdu in the afternoon, stopping on the way at the Yazi River to see wintering birds.
    • Our hotel in Chengdu is close to two parks, so there may be a chance of doing a final bit of birding depending on what time we arrive. 
    • Accommodation: Hotel in Chengdu; 1-night on half board basis
    • This morning we transfer to the airport to check-in for our return flights back to the UK, arriving later the same day.

All prices are per person and include:

  • Services of the naturalist leader
  • Flights
  • Transfers
  • Accommodation
  • All meals
  • Guided activities

Accommodation

We stay in simple and comfortable hotels throughout, all with en suite rooms. 

Meals

All meals are included.

Breakfasts and dinners taken at the hotel. Lunches are a mix of picnics and leisurely sit-down meals taken at traditional restaurants. More international styles of cuisine will also be available to choose throughout the itinerary.   

Birds

Due to the range of habitats in the province, Sichuan has an incredibly long list of recorded bird species including various migrants and some Asia’s most spectacular localised birds.  The best time for birds in Sichuan is April to mid-June. 

  • Grey long-tailed goral
  • Firethroat
  • Temminck's tragopan
  • Black-necked crane

Mammals

The nature reserves in Sichuan really are some of the best places to see China’s iconic and endangered mammals. China has more than 550 species of mammal and it is possible to see almost half of these species in Sichuan alone. 

  • Red panda
  • Sichuan takin
  • Chinese mountain cat
  • Pallas’s cat

Flora

Sichuan is famous the world over for its flora and in particular its flowers. The province is home to one of the richest ranges of temperate flora and boasts vivid rhododendrons, pedicularises and primulas. Other noteworthy floral highlights include blue poppies and black primulas.

Scenery

Sichuan is known for its fantastic scenery – rugged mountain peaks, crystal clear lakes, the Tibetan Plateau and the scenic gorge of the Yangtze River can all be found within this province. 

Photography

Photographic opportunities on this trip are good to excellent, especially for the mammals and birds that we might see, as well as the stunning Sichuan scenery.

Walking

Some trails could be steep or wet in places, but we will take these slowly. We travel up to over 3,000 metres, however the walking will be easy-going.

Flights

Price includes return scheduled flights London - Chengdu – London (via Hong Kong). 

Ground transport

Ground transportation will be by minibus, with driver.

Altitude

On this tour we will travel to over 3,000 metres above sea level.

Climate

October and November see the seasons change in Sichuan from autumn to winter. The daytime temperature usually lies between 10-15 degrees Celsius. However, please bear in mind that when we reach the higher altitudes the temperatures will also drop, but will remain above zero during the day. We may come across wintery showers and also windy conditions, so warm and waterproof clothing is recommended. The wildlife prefers these colder conditions and is more active. The temperatures and conditions in April are similar as Sichuan moves into spring.  

  1. October 2018
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