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China’s Shangri-la

 

 

 shangri la triptych

 

 

Relax in great comfort in one of China’s most beautiful rural regions.

 

 

Day 1    Hong Kong/ Shangri-la

 

Depart Hong Kong by air

 

Arrive Shangri-la

 

Arrive in Shangri-la by flight. Met on arrival and transfer to hotel, refresh and have dinner in hotel. If arrives earlier, we can arrange some easy activities.

 

Hotel: Songstam Shangri-la (3,300m) 

 

 

 shangri la hotel

 

 

 

Day 2    Shangri-la to Tacheng

 

In the morning we will transfer from Shangri-la to Tacheng (3 hours). Upon arrival, refresh and have lunch.

 

Songtsam Tacheng nestles in a local Naxi village, facing terraced rice fields.

 

In the late afternoon, we will take a leisurely walk through wine yards into the local village, visit a local Naxi family and learn about their life style in their cozy courtyard. Finish the walk by reaching the terraced rice fields and a old growth ginkgo tree.

 

Hotel: Songstam Tacheng  (2,020m)  B L D

 

 

 tacheng hotel

 

 

 

Day 3   Tacheng

 

Visit Yunnan’s Golden Monkey National Park in the early morning. This rare species, Yunnan Golden Monkey (Rhinopithecus biteti), is one of the world's most endangered primates: less than 2000 can now be found in the wild. At the National Park, visitors will have chance to observe this precious species at close distance.

 

In the afternoon, we will drive along a crystal clear stream, up hill to Bazhu village, a charming Tibetan village which grows perfume rose, sour papaya and grapes. We will also pay a visit to a local primary school and interact with charming children and their teachers.

 

After a picnic lunch, we will hike 3 hours downhill back to hotel, passing by small mountain villages and through old growth woods. It’s a great combination of a scenic country road hike and a forest trail adventure.

 

 

Day 4   Tacheng to Cizhong

 

In the morning we will drive through the scenic Lancang River valley (the upper Mekong River) to Cizhong (4 hours).

 

Late lunch upon arrival at Cizhong lodge or enjoy a picnic lunch en-route.

 

In the afternoon, explore Cizhong village where early French missionaries settled and built a catholic church over a century ago. Cizhong village is a Tibetan village, with half of the population being Christian.

 

Here one finds the only rice field in Deqin County and the vineyards are a heritage from the early French missionaries. Wine brewing is retained as a tradition in many households.

 

Hotel: Songtsam Cizhong (2,000m)  B,L,D

 

 

 

Day 5  Cizhong to Meili (suggested to be on a Sunday)

 

Join the Sunday mass in Cizhong Catholic church. Built over a century ago, the church remains intact and is still in service. The architecture mixes Gothic style with Chinese characteristics. The interior is decorated with beautiful and unique wall paintings and patterns, which have never been repainted.

 

Following the mass, we will meet and chat with the priest about his duties and lifestyle in a Tibetan village.

 

After lunch, transfer to Meili (2 hours). Songtsam Meili located in a tranquil hidden valley, where only five families live. The lodge embraces the majestic Meili Snow Mountain into its window frames.

 

Enjoy a leisurely walk in the valley and the local village, or enjoy afternoon tea in the cozy book bar with its stunning view of the mountain.

 

Hotel: Songtsam Meili (3,600m)   B,L,D

 

 

Day 6  Meili

 

Admire the beautiful sunrise on Meili Snow Mountain from the lodge’s rooftop terrace. This can be followed by a short ceremony when the locals worship the mountain as a local ritual.

 

Today we have several choices, a mountain trail hike or a Baima Snow Mountain hike.

 

Mountain trail hike: Hike along a wild mountain trail through original forest that links various vantage points for breath-taking views of the Meili Snow Mountain range. The mountains are dotted with pink rhododendron in spring, the ground is blanketed by wildflowers and mushrooms in the summer and the forest is dyed into layers of red and gold by falling leaves in autumn.

 

 

Depending on your physical condition, the hike can take between 3-8 hours.

 

 

Baima Snow Mountain hike: Baima Snow Mountain Natural Reserve is probably the most pristine mountain area inYunnan. Dramatic altitude change create a rich diversity of flora and fauna, among which there are many classified as endangered species. These include the Yunnan Golden Monkey, the snow leopard and Davidia involucrate (handkerchief tree) a “living  fossil” and a native to China. It was once considered the Holy Grail of exotic flora and its seeds were first sent to England by the legendary botanist Ernest Wilson in 1901.

 

 

The hike ascends to a U shaped valley and ultimately reaches a Tibetan summer pasture, where one can clearly see glaciers descending from the snow capped peaks.

 

 

Day 7  Meili to Benzilan

 

After breakfast, drive to Benzilan travelling through the Jinsha River valley (2.5 hours). Visit the Dongzhulin Monastery en-route.

 

Dongzhulin Monastery overlooks the beautiful Jinsha River Gorge (Yangtze). Although not as famous as Songzanlin Monastery is among tourists, Dongzhulin is more popular with the local Tibetans. It has several “living” Buddhas and each year the Mask Dancing Ceremony attracts thousands of followers. One will be able to appreciate its fine wall paintings and many precious religious artifacts.

 

Songtsam Benzilan is located in a pristine Tibetan village, well away from the bustling town of Benzilan. We will walk though the village to its little white prayer house, the yak bell workshop and the water mill, all unveiling the lifestyle and traditions of the local people.

 

Alternatively, one can visit a handicraft village named Gongjo, to participate at a workshop of traditional wooden bowl painting. Lacquer bowls and boxes are important commodities for Tibetans in their daily life and are traditionally for caravans. Learn about the different uses of the lacquer products, as well as the history of the important trade route - Tea and Horse Road.

 

Hotel: Songtsam Benzilan (1,900m)   B,L,D

 

 

Day 8  Benzilan

 

We will spend the morning exploring some “hidden jewels” in the mountains.

 

 

Drive uphill for 40 minutes to visit an old landlord family. Here you will find beautiful old window frames which have placed in the newly built house. In the village, you may see people weaving blankets, making Tibetan wine (qiang) and producing incense in the traditional ways.

 

Continue to another village at 3200 meters where big Tibetan houses are surrounded by barley wheat fields as well as apple trees. Enjoy a picnic lunch at a scenic spot.

 

If time and energy allows, take a 3 hour hike to explore the original forests in the afternoon. There are many kinds of wild mushroom in the summer. One can also choose to have a picnic lunch at a scenic spot in the forest.

 

 

Return to the hotel in the late afternoon. Relax and enjoy a cold beer in the courtyard in summer, or a cup of Yunnan tea at the bar in winter. If the season is right, you will be able to pick fresh vegetables from the Songtsam garden for dinner.

 

Hotel: Songtsam Shangri-la (3,300m)  B L D

 

 

Day 9   Benzilan to Shangri-la

 

Drive back to Shangri-la in the morning (1.5 hours). There is the opportunity to visit another handicraft village en-route.

 

Nixi is famous for traditional black pottery making. We will not visit the shops by the roadside, but will instead, go to a small, yet beautiful village and learn about the traditional ways of black pottery making.

 

Lunch at Songtsam Shangri-la.

 

After lunch, visit Songzanlin Monastery, Yunnan’s biggest monastery, which houses over seven hundred monks. The guide will introduce the basic concepts of Tibetan Buddhism and the daily religious practice. Learn more about the monastery’s history, its structure and the daily life of monks.

 

If time and energy permits, we can stroll down the paved road of Shangri-la old town to visit local cultural reservation NGOs.

 

Your farewell dinner can be arranged either at the hotel or in the old town.

 

 

Hotel: Songtsam Shangri-la (3,300m)  B L D

 

 

Day 10  Shangri-la/ Hong Kong

 

Depart Shangri-la by air

Arrive Hong Kong