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[ GW-AD-001 ] Chengdu to Kunming with Hiking in Yading Nature Reserve (11 Day)
Chengdu-Kangding- Litang -Daocheng -Yading(Hiking or horseriding )
-Daocheng-Xiangcheng -Zhongdian-Lijiang-Kunming ,11 days
[ Western Sichuan's Yading Nature Reserve is undoubtedly one of China's most awe-inspiring nature reserves, the scenery at Yading Nature Reserve easily rivals that found in North America's most famous national parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone. Regarded as a sacred area by Tibetans - every stunning vista here (of which there are many) is celebrated with a small gompa, prayer flags or mani stones. On this adventurous trip you will take in relatively remote areas of Tibetan culture - small towns reminiscent of the wild west, rolling landscapes characterized by wheat and barley fields and Tibetan countryside homes, and the spectacular natural beauty of Yading nature reserve's snowcapped mountain peaks. We will also pay our respects to two of the area's most renowned monasteries: Litang's Chang-Qing-Chun-Ke'er-Si, home to 1400Yellow Hat sect monks, and Zhongdian's Ganden Sumsanlin monastery, Yunnan's largest monastery. ]
Day 1 Chengdu-Kangding We will meet you at the airport and begin our journey to Kangding directly. Kangding, a former outpost on the trade route to Tibet, is a fairly large city tucked within a river valley. The sidewalks of Kangding are crowded with Hui, Chinese Muslims, and Tibetans who have come down from the highlands to sell wild mushrooms, vegetables, yak skins and various paraphernalia. Today's drive will take approximately 6 hours (360km).
Day 2 Kangding- Litang We'll have an early start today so we can have more time to explore this picturesque remote Tibetan town. At an altitude of just over 4000m, this is one of the highest towns in the world (Lhasa is 3700m). Situated high on a grassy plateau, Litang has the feel of a rough and tumble 'Wild West' town. Khampas - dressed in yak skin coats, bedecked in colorful necklaces and hair ornaments, long daggers hanging from their belts - from the surrounding areas amble into town to stock up on food and supplies, play pool on the streets and hang out in the local teahouses. This small town is great for people watching and just strolling around. We will also visit the famous Chang-Qing-Chun-Ke'er-Si monastery and pay homage to the living Buddha with a personal interview. The monastery here is now home to 1400 Yellow Hat sect monks. Once a hotbed of Tibetan dissent, this monastery was destroyed in the 1950s but has since been completely rebuilt. Today's journey from Kangding to Litang will take us approximately 5 hours (306km).
Day 3 Litang-Daocheng -Yading Today we will reach the highlight of this journey - Yading nature reserve, home of three sacred Tibetan mountains - Chenresig (Avalokitesvara, 6032m), Jambeyang (Manjusri, 5958m), and Chanadorje (Vajrapani, 5958m). Tibetan Buddhists believe that making a kora (pilgrimage) around these mountains brings great merit, and that the three mountains represent compassion, wisdom and energy - attributes one must cultivate on the path to enlightenment. The scenery here easily rivals that of national parks of the west such as Yellowstone and Yosemite in terms of spectacular, pristine mountain scenery. The drive from Litang to Daocheng will take approximately 4 hours (180km), and the trip from Daocheng to Yading (60km) will take approximately 3 hours as much of the road to the park is dirt track. We will spend the night in tent hotel.
Day 4 Hiking or horseriding in Yading From the reserve entrance we will traverse a beautiful wooded pathway leading to a valley set at the foot of the spectacular Mt. Chanadorje. We'll pass piles of mani stones by the side of the pathway and at the base of the Reserve's most stunning vistas. We'll also visit Tshonggo Gonpa (Chonggu Si in Chinese) - a small Tibetan temple, which Joseph Rock nicknamed 'Bandit Monastery.' (Joseph Rock, a botanist and explorer, conducted extensive explorations of northwest China and Tibet for Harvard's Museum of Comparative Zoology and National Geographic in 1924.) We will continue our hike to the foot of Mt Chenresig, where we'll ascend a small but steep hill to view a beautiful mountaintop emerald green lake. Local lore has it that this magical lake can reveal your future if you spend a few moments in quiet contemplation by its side. We'll return to the meadow at the foot of Mt. Chanadorje and spend the night in a tent hotel.
Day 5 Yading -Daocheng We will spend the morning doing a shorter hike or horseride around the reserve. In the afternoon we'll drive back to Daocheng where we'll spend the night.
Day 6 Daocheng-Xiangcheng-Zhongdian Today we will take a long (5 hours, 290km) but scenic drive to Zhongdian (3,300m, 10,000 ft), a small town on the Tibetan Plateau. We will visit Ganden Sumsanlin monastery, the largest monastery in Yunnan, built in the 17th century. This impressive monastery was established under the instruction of the 5th Dalai Lama, and is home to over 700 monks.
Day 7 Zhongdian to White Water Terrace Visit a Tibetan Family in Zhongdian and the Market in Zhongdian, then we continue on by car, driving 3-4 hours to White Water Terrace. We will spend the night at White Water Terrace, where the Naxi culture originated. The village's name comes from the white rock formations shaped like small rice terraces located just above the town.
Day 8 White Water Terrace - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Lijiang Drive to Lijiang, on the way visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge of Yangtze River, one of the world's deepest gorges tucked between Yulong Snow Mountain and the Haba Mountains. Nestling in a beautiful valley against the backdrop of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, the old town of Lijiang is a maze of cobbled streets, rickety wooden buildings and vibrant markets.
Day 9 Lijiang -- Kunming The Naxi tribes people are a matriarchal society. The women, who wear traditional costumes of blue and black, inherit property, have affairs and generally run things while the men are kept busy as singers, dancers and musicians. There will be an opportunity to hear Naxi music played on traditional instruments. We visit the Black Dragon Pool, offering a marvellous view of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain,, and Buddhist temples before exploring the lively street of the Old Town.
Day10 Lijiang -Kunming Morning flight to Kunming "City of Eternal Spring", the Yunnan provincial capital. Many visitours travel to Kunming just to see the Stone Forest, which consists of thousands of narrow, fantastically shaped pillars of rock scattered over an area of over 100 sq.miles.
Day11 Kunming End of trip. Transfer to the airport and board your homebound flight. Arrive in your country on the same day.
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