Natural Habitat Adventures has upped the already-intensive panda focus on its new itinerary for 2018 departures of The Wild Side of China: A Nature Odyssey. Guests will enjoy even more panda encounters on a fourth in-depth visit to China’s famed giant panda research and breeding bases.
Two more new additions include a chance to observe and photograph golden monkeys up close at a nature reserve in the Minshan Mountains, plus a visit to the famous Terracotta Army in Xi’an.
This 12-day adventure offers the most nature-intensive itinerary in China today, backed by the expertise of the world’s nature travel leader, Natural Habitat Adventures, along with its partner in conservation travel, World Wildlife Fund.
The upgraded itinerary now includes four separate visits to three of China’s panda research, rehabilitation and breeding centers. These world-renowned sites in Sichuan Province are instrumental in China’s successful efforts to bolster panda numbers. Nat Hab guests observe pandas at close range and learn in detail about their care and conservation. At Dujiangyan Panda Base, guests have the exclusive chance to volunteer with aspects of the pandas’ care, helping to prepare their food, clean enclosures and engage in other tasks that place them directly into the daily activities of the pandas’ caregivers.
Another Nat Hab exclusive is the very rare opportunity to explore native wild panda habitat. Nat Hab alone holds special permits to enter remote sectors of a virtually unvisited nature reserve deep within the Minshan Mountains, where giant pandas live and breed freely. This global biodiversity hotspot is home to some of the world’s most endangered wildlife. While giant pandas are highly elusive and virtually never seen, the possibility does exist – and guests have better chances to see other rare wildlife such as moon bears, takin, blue sheep, serow and golden pheasant.
At another nature reserve new to the revamped 2018 itinerary, guests enjoy close-up viewing of a large habituated family troop of golden snub-nosed monkeys. 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.
Scenery takes center stage on a full-day visit to Jiuzhaigou, China’s most renowned national park that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and UN Biosphere Reserve. Walks along scenic boardwalks through a high mountain valley reveal colorful birds and dramatic natural features including steep peaks, ravines, forest, meadows, marshes, wildflowers, and numerous lakes and waterfalls. The park’s karst geology has created a series of terraced limestone pools filled with turquoise water flowing over ledges in crystalline cascades.
On the cultural side, guests enjoy an unhurried visit to the famous Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, the ancient Silk Road trading center. One of the most remarkable archaeological finds in history, the site consists of 8,000 life-size soldiers, 100 chariots and 600 horses, none of which is identical. The clay and ceramic army was built to guard the massive mausoleum complex of China’s first emperor who lived from 259–210 B.C.
The itinerary also includes an overland traverse of the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern Sichuan where Tibetan villages, prayer wheels, chortens and colorful prayer flags dot the landscape. While dining in the home of a Tibetan family, guests gain insights into this deeply traditional culture.
The per-person double rate, excluding international airfare, is $10,995. The gateway is Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. Nine departures are scheduled in 2018, of which four are specially designated for photographers. The Wild Side of China Photo Adventure is a photography-focused immersion guided by a naturalist Expedition Leader who is also an expert nature photographer and photography instructor.
All trips are accompanied by a North American NHA Expedition Leader plus a native Chinese naturalist guide whose local expertise enhances the experience immeasurably. This outstanding guide-to-guest ratio ensures expert interpretation and plenty of personalized attention. Optional extensions to Beijing and the Great Wall, or an extra day in Chengdu, can be arranged.
For complete details, please see: https://www.nathab.com/asia-adventure-travel/wild-china-panda-tour/ and https://www.nathab.com/asia-adventure-travel/wild-ancient-china-photo-tour/.
For information about all of Nat Hab’s trips, including descriptive itineraries, availability and reservations, call 800-543-8917 or visit http://www.nathab.com/. Click HERE to order a copy of the new 2018 catalog.