Giant panda in Befengxia Panda base

Befengxia Panda base in Ya’an, Sichuan is one of the best locations to photograph giant pandas in natural surroundings.

NHA Staff Naturalist Brad Josephs just returned from leading the first of two Natural Habitat nature adventures in China’s less traveled mountain country.  These trips explore remote mountains and forests of Sichuan and the Tibetan Plateau, areas of China that are rarely seen by foreigners.

Brad is a remarkable photographer as you can see from the photos below.  We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Many people travel to China to see giant pandas, and it’s definitely the star of our China trips.  Giant pandas are one of the most endangered species on the planet, and remote bamboo forests still harbor the few remaining giant pandas in the wild.

Panda eating bamboo

Portrait of panda feasting on bamboo. Pandas will eat up to 60 pounds of bamboo per day with the help of strong jaws and adapted teeth.

Newborn baby panda

Our group was fortunate to have the opportunity to view newborn baby pandas in both Chengdu and Bifengxia Breeding centers! A panda is only 3 ounces when it’s born, the size of a stick of butter.

Baby panda cubs

Nap time at the panda breeding center. Baby panda cubs don’t stay small very long!

Panda Cub

Nat Hab guest Elizabeth Lancaster gets friendly with a 1 year old panda cub. They grow up so fast!

Red panda, Chengdu

Red panda climbing a tree at Chengdu Panda Base.

Minshan Mountains

From Brad: “For me, the most exciting destination on these trips is a wild, undiscovered wilderness area in the Minshan Mountains, where we explore wild giant panda habitat, and view and photograph some of the world’s rarest wildlife. Although it was too dark for a photograph, the trip highlight for me was spotting an Asian hog-nosed badger on a night hike! We also saw takin, golden pheasant, Tibetan macaque, serow, reeve’s muntjac, wild boar, blue sheep, and masked palm civet!”

Tibetan macaque

Mother Tibetan macaque spotted grooming her young.

Takins in China

Three takins taking in the view from the top of a cliff.

Swinhoe’s striped squirrel in China

Close-up of Swinhoe’s striped squirrel. “I used a low aperture of 4 to achieve a shallow depth of field, to accentuate the squirrel’s face.”

Tibetan Area
The last leg of our adventure is a journey through the Minshan Mountains and on to the Tibetan Plateau, experiencing Tibetan culture, astonishing scenery, and widespread wildlife.

Red birtch and waterfalls in Jiuzhaigou National Park

A red birch, and one of the many beautiful waterfalls of Jiuzhaigou National Park. A landscape photographer’s dream!

Chinese bride taking photos before her wedding. What a glamorous setting for a wedding…

Tibetan dancer

A traditional Tibetan performance.



karst geology

These beautiful, blue, limestone pans are common of the karst geology of the area.

Phillip He

Phillip He, the man who makes this trip possible. Thanks yet again Phillip!

For more info on our China adventures, visit The Wild Side of China: A Nature Odyssey.