Location of Adventure
Group Size Limit
Approximately 12 Travelers
A very important feature of our China adventure is the limited group size, as nature expeditions are best experienced with a small group of travelers.
Specialized 4x4 Land Rovers and Land Cruisers
Our Private Leaders
Arrival and departure airport transfers (if you are staying at the Shangri-La Hotel), accommodations, land transportation, internal flights, meals from dinner on Day 1 to breakfast on final day, purified drinking water throughout the trip and soft drinks at meals, services of an NHA Expedition Leader and local guides, most gratuities, all permits, entrance fees and taxes.
Round-trip transportation to and from the start and end points of the trip (Chengdu, China), airport transfers (if you are staying at a hotel other than the Shangri-La) passport and visa fees, optional activities, items of a personal nature (phone calls, laundry, Internet, etc.), alcoholic beverages, some gratuities, airline baggage fees, required medical evacuation insurance and optional travel insurance.
In order to participate in this trip, you must be able to walk unassisted for a minimum of two miles over uneven terrain, as well as be active at altitudes exceeding 8,000 feet above sea level. Our itinerary involves daily walks or hikes of varied lengths over pavement, boardwalks and dirt forest trails that can be muddy, slippery and uneven with roots and rocks (note that all walks can be more difficult to navigate during inclement weather). Longer and more strenuous hikes (5-6 miles) may be available in some areas for those who choose. Two days of excursions in Jiuzhaigou National Park require climbing multiple sets of stairs, many without handrails. Some walking activities take place at altitudes over 8,000 feet, and we will drive across and stop on top of mountain passes that exceed 12,000 feet in elevation. The trip also involves many very early morning starts and long, full days of activities with little down time. Some drives between locations are long (5-6 hours or longer depending on local conditions) and occur on winding roads that are often somewhat rough.
Important Information About This Trip
Among many travelers, China is known more for its history and culture than its natural features. But we focus on the natural wonders that most visitors miss, particularly the pandas of Sichuan province and a remote, rarely visited wildlife reserve where wild giant pandas, as well as a host of other rare animals and birds, live and breed. Expedition Leader Brad Josephs, who helped create our itinerary, made this comment about it: “This itinerary trades time spent in polluted air, traffic, crowds and airports for beautiful, pristine mountain country. But we don’t always have 5-star restaurants or services, and English-speaking locals and hotel staff do not exist in many areas. Parts of the trip are more rustic, but the nature rewards are so worth it!”
That said, however, it's important to note that there is a fundamental difference between the wildlife experience in China and what you would experience on a typical African safari. Terrain here is heavily forested, and while wildlife abounds in natural areas, it is not always easy to see. Many animals are expertly camouflaged or hidden within the vegetation, making them difficult to spot. Weather also affects wildlife sightings, and when it is inclement, animals may be more likely to take cover in the deep forest. However, our itinerary is carefully designed to capitalize on the very best opportunities to see rare Chinese wildlife, maximizing your chances. Our seasoned Expedition Leaders and local guides are experts at locating wildlife when it is visible—and we encourage our guests to understand that the privilege of stepping into a wild, untouched world inside China is a reward in itself.
We do have multiple opportunities to see giant pandas up close, though—a highlight of our trip. These encounters occur not in the wild, but at China's panda research bases where the pandas live within a constructed setting that contains or mimics elements of their natural habitat. While the environment is more zoo-like, it provides a chance for hours of observing many pandas at close range, a privilege very few people get to enjoy. It's a moving opportunity not available anywhere else but Sichuan.
Since the areas we travel to on this trip are remote and wild (that's why we go there!), we require medical evacuation insurance for our guests' safety. If you decline the medical evacuation insurance coverage offered by Natural Habitat, we request that you send us documentation of the independent coverage you have selected. We will add the cost of a medical evacuation policy to your tour invoice until you provide our office with proof of coverage including your insurance company's name, contact number and your individual policy number. Thank you for understanding that our policy exists exclusively in the interest of our guests' safety.
Getting There & Getting Home
Arrive in Chengdu by 2 pm in order to participate in activities beginning at 5 pm, followed by a welcome dinner. You are free to depart Chengdu anytime on the final day. We can best serve you if our Natural Habitat Adventures Travel Desk makes your reservations, as our staff is intimately familiar with the special requirements of these programs and can arrange the most efficient travel. Please call us at 1-800-543-8917. Note that while we offer you the best
possible rates available to us on airfare and additional nights'
accommodations, you may find special web rates or better fares online.