16 nights / 17 Days Trekking Northern Yunnan
– Discover Northern Yunnan, one of China’s most famous travel destinations;
– Trek along the famous Tibetan Pilgrim Paths around Kawakarpo (6,740m), one of the most sacred mountains in Buddhism;
– Visit must-sees such as Kunming, Shangri-La and Lijiang;
– Learn more about the matrilineal Naxi Society and its Dongba Shamans;
– Enjoy a fauna and flora of one of the world’s most diversified ecological areas, which boasts half of China’s animal and plants species;
– Get access to very remote areas only a few Western travellers discover.
TREKKING NORTHERN YUNNAN
This trip is ideal for people who would like to combine a China experience focused on the Tibetan minority in Northern Yunnan with some fantastic trekking along the Tibetan pilgrim routes around Mt. Kawakarpo. Kawakarpo is at an altitude of 6,740 meters not only the highest peak in the region; it is also one of the most beautiful massifs in China. In addition, it is one of the most sacred mountains for Buddhists. Yunnan is also famous for being one of the richest ecological systems worldwide, it also boasts many of China’s minorities, such as Tibetans, Yi, Naxi and Mosuo.
– Best travel date: April, May and September, October;
– Destinations: Kunming, Shangri-La (Zhongdian), Deqin, Lijiang;
– Duration: 17 days;
– Starting in: Kunming;
– Group size: minimum 6 people, maximum 14 people.
Yunnan is probably one of the most visited destinations by Chinese travellers. Nevertheless, Chinese travellers mostly visit the obvious tourist attractions such as Lijiang and go on less adventurous journeys than most western travellers.
Yunnan boasts half of China’s animal and plant species and is also China’s most diversified province, offering more or less everything from rain forest to close to 7,000 meter high peaks. With one-third of China’s ethnological minorities, it provides an insight into these cultures.
With its mild climate, Yunnan basically means “south of the clouds” and its capital Kunming is also known as “spring city”. During this trip, we take you from Kunming to Lijiang. The Old Town of Lijiang is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Here, you will visit Baisha Village, the former capital of the Naxi Kingdom. From Lijiang, we travel further northwards to China’s self-proclaimed Shangri-La (Zhongdian) named after the famous novel “Lost Horizon” by James Hilton, and then on to Feilai via Deqin to start our trekking tour on the Inner Kora, which leads to the heart of Eastern Kham’s Holy Mountain Kawakarpo.
On this quite demanding tour, you will trek along the Minyong Glacier, visit different Buddhist monasteries and Catholic villages, get in touch with local people and get a unique insight into the daily life of local communities. After you have paid tribute to one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Tibet – the Holy Waterfall near Yubeng Village – you will take a bus ride through the Mekong Valley to Weixi and then back to Lijiang and Kunming to conclude this stunning trip.
DAY 1. KUNMING (D)
After your arrival in Kunming, you will be picked up by our guide and transferred to the Green Lake Hotel (5*). First, explore the city and its interesting local markets. Welcome dinner in an excellent Muslim restaurant.
DAY 2. KUNMING – LIJIANG (B/L/D)
After breakfast transfer to the Stone Forest with its picturesque karst formation. In the afternoon, take a relaxing walk around Kunming’s Green Lake and the Yuantong Temple, a unique Buddhist site which unites all 3 great schools of Buddhism. Take the evening flight to Lijiang and visit the Old Town. The Old Town of Lijiang is inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List and attracts visitors from all over the world. In its narrow winding alleys, one finds a good selection of comfy restaurants, cafes and shops selling traditional handicraft and antiques. Traditional Naxi dinner and overnight in the excellent Grand Lijiang Hotel (3*).
DAY 3. LIJIANG (B/L/D)
After breakfast transfer to Yuhu, home to Austrian-American explorer Joseph Rock, who lived there from 1922 until 1949, pioneering in exploring the indigenous flora and various peoples in the Sino-Tibetan border area. From his home, we go to the Yufeng Temple and further to Baisha Village, the former capital of the Naxi Kingdom, located on the Lijiang plains, through which the Mongols led by Kublai Khan invaded the Nanzhao Kingdom and conquered the Chinese Imperial armies in the 13th century. Baisha’s old Taoist/Buddhist frescoes are some of the last of their kind in China and show a gathering of immortals and deities of both religions. In the evening visit, a unique concert of traditional Chinese Taoist music performed on original instruments.
DAY 4. LIJIANG – SHANGRI LA (B/L)
In the morning, we make an excursion up onto Lion Hill, with its beautiful views over the tiled roofs of the Old Town of Lijiang and its quiet surrounding park. Before lunch, we travel on towards the Tibetan Plateau. On the way, you will visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world. During the millenniums, the Yangtze River carved a gorge into the massifs of the Haba and Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, both over 5’000 m high with their glacier peaks towering over the rice terraces on the Yangtze banks. In the late afternoon, we will reach the Tibetan Plateau, at an altitude of 3’200 m the highest county in Yunnan Province. Overnight in the Holy Palace Hotel (4*) and a special Tibetan dinner (Lhasa cuisine).
DAY 5. SHANGRI LA (B/L)
An easy hiking tour in the morning amidst impressive scenery near a little monastery in the environs of Shangri La provides the chance of getting used to walking at high altitude, which should be no problem after acclimatizing in Lijiang and Kunming. In the afternoon exploration of one of the most important strongholds of Tibetan Buddhism in Yunnan, the Songtsanlin Monastery where over 700 monks live and eight ceremonial halls can be visited. The evening is free for relaxing and strolling in the unique Old Town of Shangri La.
DAY 6. SHANGRI LA – DEQIN – FEILAI (3,300 M) (B/L/D)
After breakfast drive amidst impressive alpine scenery to Deqin. On the way there, the Dongzhulin Monastery waits to be explored. The monastery is an important branch of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism (Yellow Hats). In fact, it features 3 huge three-dimensional mandalas made of gold and jewels, unique to eastern Tibet. Overnight in a simple hotel in Feilai (20 min. outside of Deqin city). This hotel has stunning views over the Kawakarpo Range (Meili Snow Mountains, 6’790 m). In general, the range is a popular holy mountain for Tibetan pilgrims. Therefore, it’s also the destination of this extraordinary journey.
DAYS 7- 13. TREKKING KAWAKARPO – THE INNER KORA (B/L/D)
This quite demanding trekking tour leads to the heart of Eastern Kham’s Holy Mountain Kawakarpo. At the beginning, we trek along the Minyong Glacier with its two small monasteries related to the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism.
The glacier-trek is followed by the ascent to Yubeng Village and the goal of all pilgrims – the Holy Waterfall at the end of a picturesque valley, one of the most visited pilgrimage sites in Tibet. The route follows the ‘inner kora’, the path the pilgrims take on their way to the waterfall. Along this trail, accompanied by the countless donations left by the pilgrims, many small treasures, and holy sites are to be explored. We will stay overnight in basic guest rooms of Tibetan families’ farmhouses or in simple guest houses.
Due to the accessibility and the harmonious routing, which allows flexibility such as horseback-riding as an alternative to a demanding ascent on foot, this tour is an excellent chance for a try-out of Himalayan trekking. The tour offers both culturally and naturally unique experiences – the sometimes quite well-maintained paths lead through wild gorges and over soft alpine pastures, to huge glaciers and to the banks of the roaring Mekong River, whereas the opportunity to stay with local families offers an unseen chance for a deep insight into the daily life of the Tibetan community.
DAY 14. NIYNONG – KYABI – CIZHONG – WEIXI (B/L/D)
In the morning another 3 hours of trekking lead back to the road just above the beautiful Kyabi village. Today’s goal is the multicultural county capital Weixi, reached by a 7-hours bus ride on a stunningly beautiful road through the enormous Mekong Valley. En route, the Catholic Church of Cizhong waits to be explored, established 200 years ago by French missionaries. Although the French had to leave in the 1950’s, still most of the community is of Christian belief and the neighbouring yards are filled with grapes for the production of quite decent red wine. Overnight in a simple guest house at the Catholic Church of Xiao Weixi.
DAY 15. WEIXI – LIJIANG (B/L)
Leave for Lijiang in the morning, passing by the first bend of the Yangtze River, a location of great importance for the water supply of central China. The evening is free for individual dinner in one of Lijiang’s numerous restaurants and cafes.
DAY 16. LIJIANG (B/D)
On the last day in Yunnan, you will have time to relax and reflect on the unique experiences. In the evening you will enjoy a farewell dinner of the excellent Thai-style cuisine.
DAY 17. LIJIANG – KUNMING (B)
Transfer to the airport for a Kunming-bound flight. End of trip.
For this tour, you have to be in good condition. You need adequate travel gear and some preparation according to the local customs and special characteristics. However, there are some special requirements:
Possible risks and preventive measures
Once arrived in China we will take care of a slow and adequate acclimatization. In addition, we provide you with professional advice. However, there always is some risk due to the high altitude of some passages, some people might suffer from discomforts like a headache, sleeplessness and other symptoms of altitude sickness. Please inform yourself about possible risks and preventive measures before the start of the trip.
Furthermore, this tour requires you to be in a good condition suitable for trekking. You should have a secure step and no acrophobia. For the case that an ascent is too demanding, there is the opportunity of horseback-riding with a local personal horse-guide. In reality, horses are rather small of size, therefore the weight limit for the rider is only 90 kg.
As this tour leads into regions with very restricted infrastructure, accommodation facilities and meals can be very basic! As compensation, the traveller gets a unique insight into daily life of the local communities.
For the case of health problems, please bring a personal stock of medicines for your private use. In fact, we are not able to provide any medication by Chinese law. Please also be aware that personal travel insurance for the entire trip is also necessary.
Please also note that we cannot take any responsibility for incidences occurring due to the act of nature beyond control, alpine risks or high altitude. Furthermore, we reserve the right to make changes in the itinerary without prior notice.
Contact us per mail for a tailor-made itinerary and cost details or options of 17 Days Trekking Northern Yunnan, China.