China Sichuan main group tour 2-18 June 2023
with Beijing/Shaanxi cultural pre-tour extension (Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors) and post-tour extension to Lhasa, Tibet.
On this tour we will be focussing on the Sichuan Province of China, which is world-renowned for its birds and wildlife, particularly game birds (pheasants, partridges, tragopan and grouse); many of these are range-restricted species…and spectacularly beautifully coloured. Much of the tour will be in the sparsely populated areas at altitude in the western part of Sichuan near Tibet, including the Tibetan Steppes which is teeming with wildlife and birds and which live quite happily with the human residents there (mostly yak and sheep herders). During this tour we will also learn of the conservation initiatives for two threatened mammal species, the Giant Panda and Golden-snub-nosed Monkey which are both restricted to a small area of south-western China, almost exclusively in Sichuan. Other mammals we will have a good chance of seeing are Tibetan Fox, Himalayan Marmot, Pikas, Takin, Tibetan Macaque, Reeves’ Muntjac and Chinese Goral are all good possibilities. Hog Badger, Grey Wolf, Yellow-throated Marten, Asian Black Bear Chinese Serow and Tufted Deer are also possibilities. The province is also famous for its wildflowers, boasting several hundred different species of rhododendron and a myriad of orchids as well as countless alpine species. We have also included some cultural activities such as visits to ancient Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan temples and a dinosaur museum for which China has recently become famous because of the sheer number of fossils being found here. We have designed this as a well-rounded tour with something for everyone. Tonia explored this area in May 2019 and listed almost 300 bird and 20 mammal species during her 2-week stay there and returned raving about the location, the people and the amazing opportunity to offer a tour in a little-known part of China where very few Westerners visit.
Over 500 bird species including many endemic and threatened species and iconic species such as pheasants.
Iconic mammal species including Tibetan Fox, Takin, Himalayan Marmot with possibility of Grey Wolf and Asiatic Black Bear.
Chance to learn and contribute to the Giant Panda and Golden Snub-nosed Monkey conservation projects.
English-speaking local bird and plant guides accompanying this tour
Visits to ancient Buddhist monasteries and dinosaur museums.
Tour is running at the best time to visit this area (between May-July)
Dr Tonia Cochran, Inala Nature Tours and local Sichuan-based birding and plant guides.
Itinerary OUTLINE for Main Sichuan Tour:
Day 1. Fri 2 June 23. Arrive Chengdu. Orientation and welcome dinner.
Day 2. Sat 3 June 23. Chengdu Botanical gardens- Tangjiahe Nature reserve, Qingchaun.
Day 3. Sun 4 June 23. Tangjiahe Nature Reserve.
Day 4. Mon 5 June 23. Tangjiahe-Bao’en Temple Pingwu-Huangyang.
Day 5. Tue 6 June 23. Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, Huangyang-Chuanzhusi.
Day 6. Wed 7 June 23. Chuanzhusi-Gonggangling-Gami Monastery-Ruoergai Grasslands, Zoige
Day 7. Thu 8 June 23. Five Flower Lake and Baxi Forest, Jiuzhaigou Valley, Ruoergai
Day 8. Fri 9 June 23. Ruoergai Zoige-Maerkang (Barkam).
Day 9. Sat 10 June 23. Mengbi Mountain.
Day 10. Sun 11 June 23. Maerkang-Mengbi Mountain-Rilong.
Days 11 & 12. Mon 12 & Tue 13 June 23. Balang Mountain.
Day 13. Wed 14 June 23. Rilong-Wolong Giant Panda Base-Xiangling near Ya’an.
Days 14 & 15. Thu 15 & Fri 16 June 23. Xiangling.
Day 16. Sat 17 June 23. Xiangling to Chengdu Nature Museum.
Day 17. Sun 18 June 23. Depart Chengdu.
Day 1. Thursday 2 June 2023. Arrive Chengdu. Orientation and welcome dinner (500m elevation).
Today we arrive in Chengdu where we will meet our local guide and transfer to our hotel. Depending on your time of arrival there may be an option of some easy birding in the local parks or explore Chengdu city which is the provincial capital of the Sichuan Province and which has a history of over 3000 years. Or alternatively just relax after the long flight. We will then meet for a welcome dinner where we will have an introduction to the program. Those participants who are joining the Great Wall and Terracotta Warriors pre-trip extension will arrive by bullet-train from Yangxian today. Please see below for detailed itinerary of this extension.
Accommodation: Hotel in Chengdu (en suite rooms). Meals included: D.
Day 2. Friday 3 June 2023. Chengdu Botanical Gardens- Tangjiahe Nature Reserve (500-1,230m).
This morning we will drive to Chengdu Botanical Gardens to search for some local birds such as Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Hoopoe, Plain Prinia, Chinese Bulbul, White-browed Laughingthrush, Red-billed Leiothrix, Japanese White-eye, Chinese Blackbird, Chinese Grosbeak, Collared Finchbill, Vinous-throated Parrotbill, Grey-backed Shrike and Black-crowned Night Heron. We will then drive to Tangjiahe (drive time around 6 hours), with birding and rest stops en route. After passing through the entrance of the nature reserve, we will have some stops to search for birds and wildlife on the way to our hotel.
Accommodation: Hotel in Tangjiahe (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Saturday 4 June 2023. Tangjiahe Nature Reserve (around 1,230m elevation).
Tangjiahe is one of the best places to search for mammals and birds in China. We will explore this site from morning to dusk so that we also have a chance to see some crepuscular species including the fascinating and spectacularly beautiful Golden Pheasant. Other interesting bird species we can expect to see are Brown Dipper, Spectacled Fulvetta, Sooty Bushtit, Crested Kingfisher, Blue Rock Thrush, White-collared Yuhina, Slaty Bunting, Grey-headed Canary-flycatcher, Sulphur-breasted Warbler and Chestnut-crowned Warbler. Mammal watching is also very productive here, with Takin, Tibetan Macaque, the elusive Yellow-throated Marten, Reeves’ Muntjac all good possibilities. Chinese Goral are usually spotted on the steep cliff. Chinese Serow, Tufted Deer and Asian Black Bear are more elusive and trickier to track down. We will also search for some of the special plants in the area, including the orchids
Pleione bulbocodioides and Changnienia amoena, Cercis glabra, Ischnogyne mandarinorum and various species of rhododendron. Accommodation: Hotel in Tangjiahe (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Sunday 5 June 2023. Tangjiahe-Bao’en Temple-Huangyang (1,400-1,800m elevation).
After a short amount of birding time around the hotel in the early morning, we will then drive about 2 hours to visit the Bao’en temple in Pingwu, a well-preserved fifteenth century Buddhist Monastery which was built in the Ming Dynasty between 1440-1446. The temple was built as a mini replica of the Forbidden City 519 years ago, then disguised as a temple by the local chieftain to escape punishment by Chinese Emperor Yingzong. It is one of the best-protected Ming style structures in China. Followed lunch in Pingwu, we drive on to Huangyang, where we have the chance to see the fascinating Golden Snub-nosed Monkey.
Accommodation: Guesthouse in Huangyangguanxiang (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5. Monday 6 June 2023. Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, Huangyang-Chuanzhusi (1,800-2,900m).
We will spend the morning enjoying and photographing the golden snub-nosed monkey, which is endemic to a small area in temperate, mountainous forests of central and Southwest China. We will also learn of the conservation measures to protect this species while looking for birds including Golden Pheasant, before traveling to Chuanzhusi. The total drive time for today is around 3 hours, but we will have some birding stops along the way looking for birds like Collared Crow, Przevalski’s (White-cheeked) Nuthatch, Maroon-backed Accentor, Grey-crested Tit, and Rufous-vented Tit.
Accommodation: Chuanzhusi (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 6. Tuesday 7 June 2023. Chuanzhusi-Gonggangling-Gami Monastery-Ruoergai (2,900-3,500m).
Today we will leave in the dark to travel to Gonggangling to search for the endemic and rare Sichuan Wood Owl (Pere David's Owl) as well as the elusive Chinese Grouse and other forest species like Three-banded Rosefinch, Crested Tit-warbler, Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Chinese Rubythroat, etc. We can also see some interesting floras like Fritillaria unibracteata and different kinds of Primulas and Rhododendrons. After searching the Gongganglin area we will drive on to the Ruoergai Grassland which is known as the ‘lungs of Sichuan’. Along the way, we will visit the Gami Monastery which is one of the earliest and most important monasteries of Bon (an indigenous religion of Tibet). After leaving Gonggangling we will travel towards the Ruoergai Grassland, enjoying the ever-changing views. On the plateau, we can expect to see some grassland species like Himalayan Griffon, Upland Buzzard, Black Kite, Common Kestrel, Amur Falcon, Daurian Jackdaw, Horned Lark, Azure-winged Magpie, Oriental Skylark, Carrion Crow, Grey-backed Shrike, Rock Sparrow, Siberian Stonechat and Citrine Wagtail. We will also be looking for plateau mammals such as the adorable Plateau Pika and Moupin Pika which are often seen feeding near their burrows together with Himalayan Marmot, which lay flat on the ground when it is feeding. We will also be searching for some of the more elusive mammals like Tibetan Fox, Grey Wolf and Hog Badger in this area.
Accommodation: Ruoergai, Zoige, (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 7. Wednesday 8 June 2023. Flower Lake and Baxi Forest (around 3,500m).
We will spend the day searching for birds in different habitats in this area. The morning will be spent in the mountains with virgin forests at the edge of the plateau which provide good habitat for forest birds such as the rare Chinese Grouse, Blue Eared Pheasant, the elusive Black Woodpecker, Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Plain (Pere David's) Laughingthrush, Elliot's Laughingthrush, Snowy-cheeked Laughingthrush (Sukatschev's Laughingthrush), Sichuan Tit, White-browed Tit Warbler, Crested Tit-Warbler, Dusky Warbler and Slaty-backed Flycatcher. In the afternoon, we will visit Flower Lake where we aim for good views of the elegant Black-necked Crane. We will slowly walk on the boardwalk searching for waterfowl and grassland birds including Bar-headed Goose, Great Crested Grebe, Horned Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Tufted Duck, Northern Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard, Common Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, Gadwall, Eurasian Teal, Brown-cheeked Rail, Lesser Sand Plover, Citrine Wagtail, Oriental Skylark, Little Ringed Plover, White-rumped Snowfinch, Rufous-necked Snowfinch, Tibetan Lark, Horned Lark, Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture), Himalayan Vulture, Upland Buzzard and Common Kestrel. Some difficult species like Whooper Swan and Eurasian Bittern are also occasionally seen here. It is also very pleasant to see all the colourful flowers blooming on the plateau. The most-common genera here are Pedicularis, Aster, Astragalus, Gentiana, and Primula, and we will also take some time to look at these.
Accommodation: Ruoergai (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D
Day 8. Thursday 9 June 2023. Ruoergai – Maerkang (3,500 - 2,600m elevation).
This morning we will have chance to try for some key species we may still need to find before driving to Maerkang, the prefectural capital of Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture which is sometimes also known as Barkam. Total travel time is around 6.5 hours, but we will have several stops along the way looking for Black-necked Crane, Pink-tailed Rosefinch (Przevalski's Pinktail), White-browed Tit, Robin Accentor and Tibetan Partridge.
Accommodation: Maerkang/Barkam (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D
Day 9. Friday 10 June 2023. Mengbi Mountain (4,000m elevation).
Standing between Xiaojin County and Maerkang, Mengbi Mountain is another important birding site that we visit in this trip. Significant differences in elevation, along with well-protected virgin forest, abundant flowers and few people has made this site a paradise for birds, including the endemic Chestnut-throated Monal Partridge (Verreaux’s Partridge) and the rare Sichuan Jay. In the early morning, we will drive to the top of the mountain, standing at 3,900 meters, and either walk or drive slowly down the mountain to search for birds. We will spend the whole day birding in different elevations on the mountain looking for the endemic targets and other fascinating birds like Blood Pheasant, Crested Tit Warbler, Chinese Fulvetta, the range-limited Crimson-browed Finch, Three-banded Rosefinch, Przevalski’s Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Rufous-vented Tit, Grey Crested Tit, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, White-winged Grosbeak, Spotted Nutcracker, Grey-headed Bullfinch and Red Crossbill. Mengbi Mountain also has some great flora including several species of Primula (Primula sikkimensis, P. deflexa, P. palmata), Corydalis pseudobarbisepala, Lilium duchartrei, Sinopodophyllum hexandrum and Boschniakia himalaica.
Accommodation: Maerkang (en suite rooms) as for last night. Meals included: B, L, D
Day 10. Saturday 11 June 2023. Maerkang-Mengbi Mountain-Rilong (2,600m-4,000m-3,300m).
We will spend some time birding around Maerkang looking for Rufous-bellied Woodpecker and Great-spotted Woodpecker and will also return to Mengbi Mountain to look for our targets again if needed. We will then travel to Balang Mountain (around 5 hours’ drive) to look for Red-billed Chough, Yellow-billed Chough, Grandala, Chinese White-browed Rosefinch, Pink-rumped Rosefinch, Beautiful Rosefinch, Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Common Rosefinch, Streaked Rosefinch, Plain Mountain Finch, Brand’s Mountain Finch and White-winged Grosbeak.
Accommodation: Rilong (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D
Days 11 & 12. Sunday 12 & Monday 13 June 2023. Balang Mountain. 4,000-4,500m.
We will spend two days birding in the most fascinating birding site in China –Balang Mountain, which is the first high mountain standing between the Sichuan Basin and the Qinghai Tibetan Plateau. It serves as a demarcation line ethnically and, due to the change in topography, has rich flora and fauna resources. So besides seeing different birds here, we can also see lots of alpine flowering plants, including about 4 kinds of Meconopsis, and a great variety of Primula, Pedicularis, Corydalis plants, as well as Cypripedium tibeticum. Our search for alpine birds starts after we cross the mighty Balangshan Pass where will spend time around the summit which, at just over 4,500 meters, is the highest point we’ll reach on the entire tour. Here we will search for scurrying Snow Partridge, Tibetan Snowcock, Blood Pheasant and Grandala. Other high-altitude specialties also include Lammergeier (Bearded Vulture), Red and Yellow-billed Chough, Alpine Accentor, Brandt’s Mountain Finch and Red-fronted Rosefinch. We will also spend some time at the lower elevations, searching for birds including the endemic Chinese Monal, White-eared Pheasant, and Firethroat, Chinese Rubythroat, Streaked Rosefinch, Dark-breasted Rosefinch, Crimson-browed Finch, Common Rosefinch and Kessler's Thrush (White-backed Thrush).
Accommodation: Rilong (en suite rooms) as for night 10). Meals included: B, L, D each day.
Day 13. Tuesday 14 June 2023. Rilong-Wolong Giant Panda Base-Xiangling.
This morning we will travel to the Wolong Giant Panda Base to enjoy panda at different ages and learn more about the adorable creatures and their conservation from a local researcher. After spending some time with these amazing animals, we will drive about towards Xiangling Mountain. This afternoon we will bird around our guesthouse looking for species like Ashy-throated Parrotbill, Huawei and Golden-fronted Fulvetta.
Accommodation: Guesthouse in Xiangling (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Days 14 & 15. Wednesday 15 & Thursday 16 June 2023. Xiangling.
Xiangling mountain is a very important birding spot for parrotbills, fulvettas, laughingthrushes and babblers. We will spend two days here searching for these birds including star birds such as Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Temminck’s Tragopan, Emei Shan Liocichla, Golden-fronted Fulvetta, Golden-breasted Fulvetta, Ashy-throated Parrotbill, Grey-hooded Parrotbill, Gold Parrotbill, Great Parrotbill, Three-toed Parrotbill, Red-winged Laughingthrush, Indian Blue Robin, Vinaceous Rosefinch, Red Crossbill and Slaty Bunting. Located in the centre of the Rainy Zone of West China, the flora resources here are also very rich and we will look for Pleione bulbocodioides, Primula veitchiana, Magnolia sargentiana, Rhododendron strigillosum, Rhododendron calophytum and the beautiful Dove Tree Davidia involucrata.
Accommodation: Guesthouse near Ya’an (en suite rooms) as for night 13. Meals included: B, L, D each day.
Day 16. Friday 17 June 2023. Xiangling-Chengdu University of Technology (CDUT) Chengdu.
This morning we will continue our exploration in Xiangling in the early morning, before traveling back to Chengdu to visit the Chengdu University. The University museum is the largest geological museum in west China housing over 50,000 specimens, including specimens of the largest dinosaur in Asia, Mamenchiasaurus hochuanensis) and the fish Chungkingichthys tachuensis. to see some beautiful dinosaur fossils.
Accommodation: Hotel in Chengdu (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 17. Saturday 18 June 2023. Depart Chengdu.
This morning after breakfast we will be transferred to Chengdu airport for our flights departing China or onward to the Lhasa Tibet extension. Please see below for detailed itinerary of this extension.
Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.
Main Tour Price: US$8,200 per person twin share. Single supplement US$600
Based on a group size of 6-10 participants + Inala leader Dr Tonia Cochran + local guides.
Inclusions: Accommodation in good quality 4-star hotels and the best guesthouses in each remote area for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and transport in a private vehicle with specialist licensed English-speaking local guides as outlined in the itinerary, airport transfers, cable car and shuttle bus fares, meals (B, L, D snacks and bottled water), activities outlined in the itinerary including entry fees to the museums, temples and Panda/monkey facilities and National Park entry fees. Also includes additional expert guest speakers and guides at Giant Panda and Snub-nosed monkey facilities.
Exclusions: any international and domestic airfares, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel and medical insurance, internet, laundry, discretionary tips etc). Also excludes extra charges due to factors beyond the control of the tour company such as natural disasters and governmental policy changes
Beijing & Shaanxi cultural pre-tour extension Western
29 May - 2 June 2023
This pre-tour extension has been designed to give interested participants the opportunity to see three Chinese cultural icons: The Forbidden City, the Great Wall of China and the Terra Cotta Warriors. We will also fit in some time to go birding, searching for the Crested Ibis which until the 1980s was thought to be extinct.
Itinerary OUTLINE for PRE-Tour EXTENSION:
Day 1. Sun 29 May 23. Arrive Beijing. Orientation and welcome dinner.
Day 2. Mon 30 May 23. Forbidden City and Great Wall.
Day 3. Tue 31 May 23. Beijing-Xi’an.
Day 4. Wed 1 June 23. Terracotta Warriors-Ancient City Wall.
Day 5 (= Day 1 of main Sichuan tour). Thu 2 June 23. Xi’an-Yangxian-Chengdu.
Day 1. Sunday 29 May 2023. Arrive Beijing. Orientation and welcome dinner.
Orientation and welcome dinner. Arrive at Beijing airport where we will be transferred to our hotel. This evening we will meet at a welcome dinner.
Accommodation: Hotel in Beijing (en suite rooms). Meals included: D.
Day 2. Monday 30 May 2023. Forbidden City and Great Wall.
This morning we will travel to the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace from the mid-Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty which is the last dynasty in Chinese history. It was originally built in 1406 and for almost 500 years it served as the seat-bed of the Emperors in the Ming and Qing Dynasties as well as the ceremonial and political centre of Chinese government. We will then travel to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China, which is less crowded than other sections. A late afternoon visit will also fit with the quiet, less-crowded time of day. We will return to Beijing late afternoon.
Accommodation: Hotel in Beijing (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 3. Tuesday 31 May 2023. Beijing-Xi’an.
This morning we will depart Beijing and take a 6-hour bullet train to Xi’an. This evening there will be an opportunity to take a leisurely walk in the Muslim Quarters of the city.
Accommodation: Hotel in Xi’an (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 4. Wednesday 1 June 2023. Terracotta Warriors-Ancient City Wall.
Depart early this morning to visit the Terra-Cotta Warriors, the eighth wonder of the world, which was created in 201-209 BC to guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor to unite ancient China in the afterlife. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Estimates from 2007 showed there are 3 pits containing the Terracotta Army comprised of more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which remained buried in the pits near Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most remarkable archaeological discoveries of all times. After a leisurely visit to this vast array of soldiers, we will visit the Xi’an Ancient city wall.
Accommodation: Hotel in Xi’an (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D.
Day 5 (= Day 1 of main Sichuan tour). Thursday 2 June 2023. Xi’an-Yangxian-Chengdu.
Early this morning, we will transfer to the Xi’an North Train Station to catch the bullet train to Yangxian. Located to the south of the Qingling mountain range, the species boundary between the south and the north, Yangxian is a unique birding location where we can see the endemic and endangered Crested Ibis and some other species. Crested Ibis was regarded as an extinct species until 7 individuals were found in Yangxian in the early 1980s; the population has gradually increased to over 3000. We will spend several hours birding here before we catch another bullet train to Chengdu. For those traveling onto our main tour, we will transfer to our Chengdu hotel and meet the rest of the group for a welcome dinner this evening.
Accommodation: none (Chengdu included in main tour). Meals included: B, L.
2023Tour Price: US$2,400 per person twin share. Single supplement US$220
Based on a minimum group size of 6 participants + Inala leader Dr Tonia Cochran + local guides.
Inclusions: Accommodation in good 4-star quality hotels and guesthouses for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and private transport with licensed English-speaking bird guide in Yangxian and local culture guides in Beijing and Xi’an, airport transfers and bullet train from Beijing to Xi’an and from Xi’an to Yangxian to Chengdu. Also includes cable car and shuttle bus fares, meals (B, L, D snacks and bottled water) and activities outlined in the itinerary including entry fees and National Park entry fees.
Exclusions: Any international and domestic airfares, alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel and medical insurance, internet, laundry, discretionary tips etc). Also excludes extra charges due to factors beyond the control of the tour company such as natural disasters and governmental policy changes.
Lhasa birding and culture post-tour extension Western
18-21 June 2023
This post-tour extension has been designed to give interested participants the opportunity to visit Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region which lies in a valley of the Himalayas. We will visit some iconic monasteries as well as the famous and huge Potala Palace. There will also be opportunities to see the endemic bird species in the region.
Itinerary OUTLINE for POST-Tour EXTENSION:
Day 1 (= Day 17 of main Sichuan tour). Sat 18 June 23. Chengdu-Lhasa. Orientation and welcome dinner.
Days 2 & 3. Sun 19 & Mon 20 June 23. Lhasa Culture tour and Xiongse Temple birding.
Day 4. Tue 21 June 23. Depart Lhasa.
Day 1 (= Day 17 of main Sichuan tour). Saturday 18 June 2023
Today we will fly from Chengdu to Lhasa. After checking in our hotel in Lhasa city, we will visit Jokhang Monastery. Founded in 650 AD by Sontzen Gampo, one of the Tibet’s greatest monarchs, the Jokhang is the religious centre of Tibet and a magnet for pilgrims from all over China. Throughout the day a colourful throng circumambulates the temple, the pilgrims chanting and prostrating themselves. Inside, past rows of prayer wheels, are dark chapels containing a bewildering richness of frescoes and statues. We will also walk on the Barkhor Street to explore local people’s life. Chengdu-Lhasa.
Accommodation: Hotel in Lhasa (en suite rooms). Meals included: L, D.
Days 2 & 3. Sunday 19 & Monday 20 June 2023. Lhasa Culture and Xiongse Temple birding.
Over the following two days, we will go birding and sight-seeing in and around Lhasa. We will spend one day birding and one day sightseeing and exploring the culture of the area, because both the endemic birds and rich culture heritage are something you can't miss in Lhasa. We will visit the famous Potala Palace and Drepung Monastery. Potala is situated at an altitude of 3,700m and once served as the winter home of the Dalai Lama. It was built between 1645 and 1694, contains over 1000 rooms, including numerous chapels, shrines, assembly halls and mausoleums, and is undoubtedly one of the world’s most extraordinary and moving buildings. The interlinked ‘white’ and ‘red’ palaces tower 13 storeys' high and completely dominate the city below. The panoramic view from the roof across Lhasa to the mountains beyond is alone worth the visit. The Drepung Monastery is one of the famous Gelug university gompas and the largest monastery in Tibet.
Our other day will be focused on birding. We will visit the Xiongse Temple where we will search for the beautiful Tibetan Eared Pheasant, Tibetan Blackbird, Giant Babax, we may also see Tibetan Snowcock, Tibetan Partridge, White-browed Tit Warbler, Himalayan Beautiful Rosefinch, Pink-browed Rosefinch, Brown-cheeked Laughingthrush, etc. We will also visit some birding sites around the city such as Lhalu Wetland, Norbulingka and the Lhasa River, where we should find some interesting species including the elusive Lord Derby's Parakeet, Black-necked Crane, Tibetan Blackbird, Streaked Rosefinch, Bar-headed Goose, Ruddy Shelduck, Common Merganser, Pallas's Gull, Plain Laughingthrush, Brown-cheeked Laughingthrush, White-browed Tit Warbler and Brown Accentor.
Accommodation: Hotel in Lhasa (en suite rooms). Meals included: B, L, D each day.
Day 4. Tuesday 21 June 2023. Depart Lhasa.
If time permits this morning, we can continue birding around the hotel for any additional species we may have missed before transferring to the airport for our various departure flights.
Accommodation: none. Meals included: B.
Tour Price: US$2,900 per person twin share. Single supplement US$150
Based on a minimum group size of 6 participants + Inala leader Dr Tonia Cochran + local guides.
Inclusions: Accommodation in a good 3-star quality hotel for each night of the tour, specialist guiding and private transport with licensed English-speaking bird guide and a local culture guide in Lhasa, airport transfers and flight from Chengdu to Lhasa on day 1 of tour. Also includes cable car and shuttle bus fares, meals (B, L, D snacks and bottled water) and activities outlined in the itinerary including entry fees and National Park entry fees.
Exclusions: any international and domestic airfares (except flight from Chengdu to Lhasa which is included), alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages and expenses of a personal nature (snacks, travel and medical insurance, internet, laundry, discretionary tips etc). Also excludes extra charges due to factors beyond the control of the tour company such as natural disasters and governmental policy changes.
Please note for both main tour and extensions:
The above rates are based upon a minimum group size of 6 people. If the tour does not achieve minimum numbers, a small supplement may be charged. We would always discuss options with you beforehand.
Meals and drinks: Breakfast generally consists of eggs, fruit, cereal, breads and tea/coffee. Sometimes a Chinese breakfast (buffet or dumplings) will be provided. Lunch will generally be either provision of communal dishes with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options or picnic-style in the field. Dinner usually consists of a soup and choice of main courses. Drinks (soft and alcoholic) are generally not included but at lunches and breakfasts juice or milk may be made available.
The itinerary: Whilst we aim to follow the itinerary as planned, please note that the itinerary provided should only be used as a guideline. Depending on individual trip circumstances, weather, and local information, the exact itinerary may not be strictly adhered to. The guides reserve the right to make changes to the itinerary as they see fit.
Please note that much of the main tour and post-tour extension are at altitudes of at least 500m (1,640 feet) and up to 4,000m (over 13,000 feet). While there will always be an option of resting in the vehicles, please seek medical advice if you feel that you may be affected by altitude. Drinking plenty of fluids also helps greatly.
The tour has been designed to accommodate a range of activity levels and enough guides to split the group as required. However average to above average mobility is required for the best outcome for everyone.
Click here to open a separate online doc which answers many questions you may have about joining an Inala small-group tour, from the structure of an average day to the pace, activity level, meals, rooms etc ......