Book any other photography tour to China, and you’ll likely be given a chance to shoot the classics: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square. You might also have the opportunity to get some good shots of giant pandas in captivity. We, however, approach China differently. As the world’s premier nature travel company, we take you into the Chinese wilderness to hidden spots that few Westerners can access—including native wild panda habitat. And, along with opportunities to capture images of classic Chinese icons, we take you to local spots to photograph authentic cultural scenes, such as street life in the 500-year-old hutong neighborhoods of Old Beijing and traditional Tibetan villages on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau.
What else makes our China nature odyssey so special?
- A Rare Possibility to Photograph Wild Giant Pandas
We hold exclusive permits to enter one of China’s most remote and rarely visited nature reserves, with access to areas where wild giant pandas freely live and breed. Most visitors to China never have a chance to see them outside an enclosure or carefully controlled environs. Though their numbers are few in this vast reserve, they are highly elusive, and we won't expect to see them, we’ll be able to search for them in truly wild surroundings, and, if we’re extremely lucky, capture rare photographs.
- Remote Reserves Offer Outstanding Wildlife Photography
Other photo prospects include red panda, blue sheep, civet, leopard cat, Tibetan and rhesus macaque, muntjac, serow, golden and Sichuan takin, and more than 150 species of birds, including the elegant golden pheasant. Due to nearly a half-century of protection from hunting, many animals lack a fear of humans and can often be photographed from roads and trails in the reserve we hold exclusive permits to enter. Depending on weather and seasonal conditions, our spring departures may also offer a chance to visit a golden monkey reserve, with an opportunity to capture photos of this Chinese “state treasure.”
- Private Visit to Moon Bear Rescue Center
We have been granted special access to the Moon Bear Rescue Center, part of an international effort to protect highly endangered Asiatic black bears. Here we’ll have a chance to capture close-up photos of rehabilitated bears that have been rescued from distressing conditions in captivity.
- Two Full Days For Nature Photography in the Jiuzhiagou Valley
We spend an entire day at Jiuzhaigou National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and World Biosphere Reserve, where our time will be specifically focused on capturing magical shots of landscapes, waterfalls and birdlife. Clear turquoise karst lakes, steep peaks, lush forest and wildflowers provide subjects for our lenses, and the park is one of the best places on Earth to photograph dramatic waterfalls. Our Expedition Leader offers guidance in long-exposure techniques to help you get exceptional shots. We'll spend a second day exploring another part of this region that's so renowned for spectacular scenery.
- Photograph a Less-Visited Section of the Great Wall
Most travelers to China see the Great Wall at its location nearest to Beijing, where it is overrun by hordes of visitors. To enhance your photography opportunities at this most iconic of Chinese cultural sights, we travel well outside the metropolitan area on a scenic 1.5-hour drive to a much less crowded section of the Great Wall. While you'll still find plenty of people about, you'll have a much better chance to get expansive photos of the wall without jostling for position with scores of other tourists.
- Photograph Scenes of Traditional Tibetan Culture
Our travels include an overland traverse of the Aba Tibetan & Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, where prayer flags and chortens dot the landscape. We'll tour villages and share a meal with a Tibetan family as we learn more about this deeply traditional culture—an interesting counterpoint to the other cultural experiences that are part of our journey.
- Our Small Group Allows Us to Adapt to Changing Conditions
Because we limit this trip to approximately 12 guests, we can access places that larger groups can’t get into. You’ll also get plenty of personalized attention and photography coaching from our Expedition Leader. A small group also means we’re able to get everyone up and out early in the morning to chase the best light. We’ll have the flexibility to remain at a site longer if it shows a lot of photographic potential, or move on to a new destination if it doesn’t.
- An Accomplished Photographer Expedition Leader, Plus Expert Local Guides
Your NHA Expedition Leader is not only a naturalist but also an expert nature and wildlife photographer, with plenty of time and enthusiasm to answer all your questions and provide tips and techniques. We are also accompanied by an outstanding Chinese tour escort and local guides who will provide insight into historic and contemporary Chinese culture. With a tremendous depth of guiding experience, plus additional training and resources provided by WWF’s top scientists, our staff will make your trip a learning adventure as well as a photography quest. See Expedition Leader bios with traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
- Accommodations Selected to Optimize Photo Opportunities
From five-star luxury hotels in Beijing and Chengdu to a quiet park inn where other travelers are few, our comfortable lodgings place you in close proximity to wildlife, evocative landscapes, street life and famous Chinese landmarks.
- Dine on Some of China's Finest Local Cuisine
While photography may be your primary interest, food lovers will be thrilled by the culinary delights offered during this trip! Sichuan province in particular is famed for its savory, often spicy, cuisine, and we take full advantage of opportunities to try a wide selection of restaurants and dishes during our journey, carefully selected by our local Chinese guide to appeal to Western palates and preferences. Since food is typically served family-style at a large round table, multiple tastes and dietary preferences can be catered for at any given meal (though be sure to make special needs known to us ahead of time). And never fear that you'll be eating only in hotels or touristy restaurants: we make a point to choose locations that are popular with local people, for a truly authentic Chinese dining experience.
- Our Quality Guarantee Ensures Your Outstanding Photographic Journey
Natural Habitat Adventures offers an exclusive guarantee that clearly states that we will meet the high expectations we set forth in our promotional materials. To our knowledge, this is the most ambitious guarantee made by any adventure travel company. Read our important promise.
- Feel Good About the Way You Travel
We all care about the planet, and you can travel with us knowing that the emissions from your trip are 100-percent carbon-offset. Natural Habitat Adventures is the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company and a leader in sustainable practices throughout its operations abroad and at home.
- Natural Habitat Adventures Is World Wildlife Fund’s Travel Partner
Because of our commitment to environmentally friendly travel, as well as the exceptional quality of our small-group nature adventures, World Wildlife Fund, the world’s leading environmental conservation organization, has named Natural Habitat its worldwide travel partner — a designation that makes us exceedingly proud!
Longitude Books has created a custom comprehensive listing of Wild China Wildlife Photo Adventure travel books
for this trip.