Book any other photography tour to China, and you’ll likely shoot the classics: the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square. You might also have a chance 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 unique images of Chinese nature and wildlife, we take you to local spots to photograph authentic scenes of rural and village life, including traditional ethnic 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 live and breed freely. 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 and 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.
- A Remote, Virtually Unvisited Reserve Offers Exclusive Wildlife Photo Opportunities
In addition to wild pandas, the wilderness reserve that is our focus is also home to many other endangered species including 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. However, it is important to note that vegetation is heavy, weather can affect wildlife visibility, and sightings are highly unpredictable.
- Two Full Days For Nature Photography in the Jiuzhiagou Valley
We spend two entire days inside Jiuzhaigou National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and World Biosphere Reserve, where our time is 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 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 cultural experience in dramatic counterpoint to the urban Chinese culture of Chengdu.
- 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 our five-star luxury hotel Chengdu to a quiet inn on a remote nature reserve where other travelers are few, our comfortable lodgings place you in close proximity to the highlights of each region we visit, whether that's wildlife, evocative landscapes or vibrant street life.
- 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-Value 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.