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China: Mammal Highlights

Snow Leopard, Red Panda, Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, and Sichuan Takin all in one trip?!? These species are near-guaranteed on this exciting new itinerary, also providing chances for Grey Wolf, Eurasian Lynx, Himalayan Black Bear, Blue Sheep, Chinese Goral, Chinese Serrow, White-lipped Deer, Sika Deer, Musk Deer, Tufted Deer, Reeve's Muntjac, and Tibetan Macaque. There are plenty of birds too, including Lady Amherst’s Pheasant, Golden Pheasant, Silver Pheasant, the rare Sichuan Partridge, a variety of laughingthrushes, parrotbills, woodpeckers, and other passerines, plus high altitude specialties like Ibisbill, Bearded Vulture, Robin Accentor, White-rumped Snowfinch, Güldenstädt's Redstart, and White-browed Tit-warbler.

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Add a Title

Price: $

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Leaders:

Add a Title

Single Room Supplement: $

TBD

Group Size Limit:

Deposit: $

TBD

Despite travel to China sometimes being viewed with trepidation, foreign bird tours to the country have been running successfully throughout 2024. Our participants experienced no issues obtaining visas, ground logistics are running smoothly, and the birding is excellent!

Accommodation:

Comfortable hotels while looking for Red Panda and Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, but very basic accommodation in the Valley of the Cats at 4000m. The latter utilises a family homestay (arranged on rotation by the local NGO, so we have no choice in the specific house). Expect two basic beds in each room with sharing required for everyone, and basic bathroom facilities which are also shared. No shower, but hot water provided in a bucket for washing.

Walking difficulty:

Mostly easy roadside birding and short forest trails, though note that some high altitudes are involved.

Tour cost includes:

All accommodation, main meals, drinking water, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, tips to local drivers and guides, travel permits, entrance fees, and guide fees.

Tour cost excludes:

Flights before and after the tour start/end, visa, travel insurance, tips to tour leaders, laundry, drinks, and other items of a personal nature.

Day 1: Arrivals into Chengdu International Airport (CTU). All participants arriving on this day will be met and transferred to our nearby hotel. Night in Chengdu.


Day 2-3: We will transfer early to Wawushan for almost three full days of exploration. This forested 3000m peak about 70km to the west of the more famous Emeishan holds a superb mosaic of deciduous forest and large bamboo-covered areas mixed within stands of coniferous rhododendron forest. As we walk around amongst the gnarled, moss-encrusted trees, we may enjoy some superb vistas across a seemingly endless series of mountain ridges to the great snow-capped peaks of western Sichuan beyond. This is one of the best places in the world to see the enigmatic Red Panda, and we expect to be able to enjoy several sightings, hopefully of a calm individual resting next to the main boardwalk! Post-breeding movements are already well underway by October, so this is not the best season for birding! Nonetheless, avian highlights in the forest could include Darjeeling and Crimson-breasted Woodpeckers, Yellow-browed, Rufous-vented, and Grey-crested Tits, Great, Brown, Three-toed, Ashy-throated, Grey-hooded, Fulvous, and Golden Parrotbills, Stripe-throated and White-collared Yuhinas, Grey-hooded and Golden-breasted Fulvettas, Elliott’s, Black-faced, and Red-winged Laughingthrush, Sichuan Treecreeper, Sharpe’s and Vinaceous Rosefinches, Grey-headed Bullfinch, plus a huge assortment of wintering warblers. Nights at the base of Wawushan.


Day 4: Most of the day at Wawushan again before evening transit to Pinshan County for overnight.


Day 5: We will spend a long morning sitting at a new photography hide in Yibin Laojunshan that is frequented by both Lady Armherst’s Pheasant and Silver Pheasant. Other possible species include Sichuan Partridge, Chinese Bamboo Partridge, Elliot’s and Rusty Laughingthrushes, Streaked-breasted Scimitar Babbler, and occasionally Temminck’s Tragopan. After lunch, we will return to Chengdu for overnight.


Day 6: Catching a morning flight to Yushu, we’ll transit to the nearby Sanjiangyuan Reserve, also known as The Valley of Cats. With 4.5 days at our disposal, we stand an excellent chance of finding one or more Snow Leopards among the imposing mountainous terrain. Hosted by a local family, we will be guided around the valley by their expert knowledge.


Day 7-8-9: Time is key to successfully finding Snow Leopards, so we will be spending a lot of time scanning the slopes at around 4000m. Other mammals we may see here are Grey Wolf, Eurasian Lynx, White-lipped Deer, Musk Deer, Blue Sheep, and “Tibetan” Red Fox. Birds are scarce but may include Tibetan Partridge, Hill Pigeon, Solitary Snipe, Bearded Vulture, Himalayan Griffon, Ibisbill, Sichuan Tit, Ground Tit, Wallcreeper, Hodgson’s, Güldenstädt’s, and Blue-fronted Redstarts, Rufous-breasted, Robin, and Brown Accentors, White-rumped, Rufous-necked, Streaked, and Pink-rumped Snowfinches, and the fabulous White-browed Tit-Warbler. Nights in Sanjiangyuan Reserve.


Day 10: Final full day for Snow Leopards before returning to Yushu in the evening for a late dinner and hot shower!


Day 11: Morning flight back to Chengdu, then transit north to Tangjiahe Nature Reserve.


Day 12-13: This large forest area is well-protected (indeed, there are thought to be more than 50 Giant Panda in the area, though they are very rarely seen), and as a result is a haven for mammals. The star attraction is the superb Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, which can be found throughout the reserve at low densities. The impressive “Sichuan” Takin is more common, and can often be seen by the side of the road while doing safari-style driving in the reserve. Tibetan Macaque, Chinese Goral, Chinese Serrow, Sika Deer, Tufted Deer, Reeve’s Muntjac, plus hopefully Himalayan Black Bear, Leopard Cat, and Hog Badger can all be encountered here, while birds include Golden Pheasant, Golden Eagle, Crested Kingfisher, Grey-headed and Great-spotted Woodpeckers, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Little and White-crowned Forktails, Brown Dipper, Collared Crow, Silver-throated and Sooty Bushtits, Yellow-browed, Japanese, and Yellow-bellied Tits, Barred, Black-faced, and White-throated Laughingthrushes, Maroon-backed Accentor, and the endemic Slaty Bunting. Nights in Tangjiahe Nature Reserve.


Day 14: We will visit a habituated but still completely wild family of Golden Snub-nosed Monkeys this morning (great for photography, and a good backup if we haven’t succeeded in finding them around the reserve!). We can spend most of the day here or birding nearby before returning to Chengdu, where the tour ends with airport drop-offs in time for evening flights.


We will also be arranging a one-day extension for anyone wishing to visit a new Golden Pheasant feeding blind near Chengdu. While we will most likely see Golden Pheasant in Tangjiahe, viewing and photography will inevitably be much better at the hide! Participants who choose to do this will stay in Chengdu overnight when the tour ends and go to the blind the next day. Cost will depend on numbers.

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