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The Wild Side of China: A Nature Odyssey

See Pandas & Golden Monkeys & Search for Rare Wildlife on Remote Nature Reserves
12 Days From $11995
Deep in the Minshan Mountains of Sichuan province, great rivers and gorges dissect lush forests that harbor some of the world’s most endangered wildlife. This is the last wild habitat of the giant panda, which lives on the bamboo protected within a network of secluded nature reserves. Supported by WWF, these little-visited wilderness enclaves also shelter rare moon bears, golden snub-nosed monkeys, shaggy takin, Chinese goral and exquisite birds, including the golden pheasant. Leave the urban crush behind to photograph and discover a side of China most travelers never see on our Far East nature safari. Our unique itinerary is carefully crafted to reveal rarely seen panda habitat and wild China at its most entrancing. We'll also have up-close encounters with pandas at China's famous research bases, plus a visit to ancient Xi'an where the Terracotta Army has guarded the tomb of China's first emperor for more than 2,200 years.
    Click here to learn about our special photo departures.
    Giant panda, Dujiangyan Panda Base, ChinaAba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, ChinaGiant pandas, Genda Wolong Panda Base, ChinaGolden snub-nosed monkeys, Golden Monkey Nature Reserve, ChinaSiguniangshan National Park, ChinaGiant panda, Chengdu Research Base, ChinaTerracotta warriors, Xi'an, ChinaRed panda, Chengdu Research Base, ChinaAba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, ChinaGiant panda, Genda Wolong Panda Base, ChinaGolden snub-nosed monkeys, Golden Monkey Nature Reserve, ChinaSichuan takin, Wild Panda Nature Reserve, ChinaWild Panda Reserve Hotel, Minshan Mountains, ChinaGiant pandas, Dujiangyan Panda Base, ChinaRhesus macaques, Wild Panda Nature Reserve, China

Trip Highlights

  • Visit Four Panda BasesGet close to giant pandas to photograph and learn about their conservation at four world-renowned panda research centers—plus a chance to volunteer in their care
  • Exclusive Wildlife Reserve AccessExclusive permits grant us access into a remote, rarely visited wildlife reserve where we may find signs of wild giant pandas that live and breed freely
  • Golden Monkey Close-UpsEnjoy encounters at close range with golden monkeys, charming blue-faced primates that live only in a small area of temperate forest in central China

We Show You the Natural China Most People Never See!

Google “trips to China” and you’ll find plenty that will show you Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. Yet virtually no one offers nature adventures, and no one else takes you to the remote, rarely visited wildlife reserves that we do. Natural Habitat holds special permits that grant us access into a nature sanctuary that few Westerners—and very few local tourists—ever see. With Nat Hab, you'll trade the time you’d spend in crowds, traffic and polluted city air for wild mountain country.

  1. See Giant Pandas Up Close on Visits to Four Different Sites
    Compare China itineraries—we don't think you'll find another that offers the panda immersion this one does. We make four separate, unhurried visits to four panda research bases: Chengdu Giant Panda Base, home to approximately 100 giant pandas, where scientists conduct research and facilitate a critical breeding program; Dujiangyan Panda Base, which focuses on rescuing injured and ill wild pandas and disease control; the newly rebuilt Gengda Wolong Panda Center, which integrates scientific research, captive breeding and reintroduction of pandas into the wild; and Dujiangyan Panda Valley, a new facility that is both a panda research and breeding base and a center for conservation education.
  2. Enjoy a Rare Volunteer Opportunity with Pandas
    At Dujiangyan Panda Base, you'll have an optional chance for a volunteer experience in which you'll help with aspects of the pandas' care. This could involve preparing their food, cleaning enclosures, and other tasks that will place you directly into the daily activities of the pandas' caregivers at this research base. Please note we cannot guarantee that this opportunity will always be available. 
  3. Enjoy Exclusive Access to Search for Pandas & Other Rare Wildlife  
    This is a genuine Nat Hab privilege: We have secured special permits to visit remote sectors of an untouristed nature reserve deep within the Minshan Mountains, a global biodiversity hotspot that's home to some of the world’s most endangered wildlife. We'll search for giant pandas and moon bears that inhabit the park, though we won't expect to see them, as both are highly elusive. We'll have better chances to find other rare and beautiful Chinese animals like takin, goral, serow and golden pheasant, within a completely natural habitat that few tourists have ever laid eyes on—and only a handful of Westerners (mostly other Nat Hab travelers). The terrain is steep and heavily forested, and animals are often sheltered, camouflaged or seen at a distance—but just being in their midst in such a quiet, wild place is a moving experience.
  4. Get Close to Golden Monkeys
    Visit a golden monkey nature reserve where we're sure to have close-up encounters with a habituated family group of these delightful snub-nosed primates. It's a rare opportunity to see and photograph this endangered species that is endemic to a very limited part of central and southwest China. 
  5. Our Small Groups Go Places Larger Groups Can't 
    Because we limit this trip to approximately 12 guests, we’re able to take you into places where larger bus tours cannot go, including a remote national park where we have exclusive permits to search for wild pandas (though they are exceptionally elusive and rarely seen). Your experience is enhanced greatly by the fact that we keep our group size small, allowing access to natural places regular tour groups will never see.
  6. Experience Traditional Tibetan Culture  
    Our travels include an overland traverse along the edge of the sprawling Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, where small villages, prayer flags and chortens dot the landscape. We'll learn more about this deeply traditional culture, which offers a dramatic counterpoint to the urban Chinese setting of Chengdu.
  7. Dine on Outstanding Local Cuisine
    While nature may be your primary interest, food lovers will be thrilled by the culinary delights offered during this trip. Sichuan is famed for its piquant cuisine, and we take full advantage of opportunities to try a wide selection of restaurants and dishes, with items carefully chosen by our local guide to appeal to Western palates. 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 popular with local people, for a truly authentic Chinese dining experience that Western visitors will also enjoy.
  8. Our Accommodations Offer the Best in Location and Comfort
    From a 5-star luxury hotel in Chengdu to a quiet mountain inn where other travelers are few, our comfortable lodgings place you in close proximity to famous Chinese landmarks and remote and wild natural settings. Each offers a regional experience of China with plenty of amenities. 
  9. Travel with Expert Expedition Leaders 
    Our Nat Hab Expedition Leaders are outstanding North American naturalist guides who are passionate about China and its wildlife. In addition, you’ll travel with a Chinese tour guide who is a nature expert, ensuring an optimal balance of scientific knowledge, authentic cultural insight and attentive personal service. Furthermore, our Expedition Leaders have the benefit of additional training and resources from WWF's renowned scientists and researchers. See Expedition Leader bios and traveler comments regarding the quality of our leaders.
  10. Our Quality-Value Guarantee Ensures Your Outstanding China Tour
    With Natural Habitat Adventures, you receive our 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.
  11. Feel Good About the Way You Travel
    We all care about the planet, and you can travel with us knowing that the carbon emissions from your trip are 100% offset. Natural Habitat Adventures is the world’s first carbon-neutral travel company, a feature that is especially critical when considering the impacts of climate change on habitat for rare and vulnerable wildlife such as the giant panda.
  12. Natural Habitat Adventures Is WWF'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!
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