While our Yunnan tours normally try to offer a balanced view of the province, this tour puts a focus on Yunnan's mountainous regions to the north and the west. Visit the Yangtse and Mekong river, as they grind their way through deep valleys. Take a tour of Yunnan's Deqin county, which offers stunning views of Mt. Kawa-Karpo. Experience untouched nature on tours through Yunnan's national parks. 

Review

Mighty Rivers

The northern part of the Yunnan Province is largely undiscovered but enchants its visitor with some of the finest natural sceneries and ethnic diversities in China.
You travel along hidden country roads through the remote mountain valleys of the Three-Parallel-Rivers-National Park – a UNESCO protected area in the far North-West of the Yunnan Province. Over 300km the three major rivers in China – the Mekong, the Yangtze and the Nujiang (Salween) - run parallel to each other from north to south through the rugged and remote part of South-West China.

A glimpse of Tibet

You travel across 4200m high mountain passes where colorful prayer flags, grazing Yak herds and Buddhist monasteries are constant reminders that you are now travelling on Tibetan soil. In spring, once the snow has melted away, the mountain slopes turn into a colorful sea of blooming Rhododendron and Azaleas, whereas the autumn scenery enchants with its amazing variety of colors that range from deep green to purple red and golden yellow.

Holy Mountains

You stay in inspiring, small boutique lodges in idyllic, secluded locations, far away from the noisy hordes of tourists that flood the more “Inn-Destinations” like Lijiang and Dali. From the comfort of your room, witness a magnificent sunrise over Mt. Kagebo (or Meili Mountain), the highest peak of the Yunnan Province and also one of the 14 holy mountains for the Tibetans. The 6’740m high peak of Mt. Kagebo has never been conquered and still remains one of the world’s last great mountaineering challenges.

This rewarding journey provides the visitor not only with a glimpse of the “real” Tibet but also gives an insight in the traditions and customs of the different ethnic communities living in the area. The overnight accommodation at charming boutique hotels is an additional highlight of this tour.

 

Tour Map

Day 1:   KUNMING - DALI - XIZHOU (-/-/-) (FLIGHT: 40 Min)

Flight to Dali. Transfer (15km) to Dali old town. Dali is situated on the western shores of the stunning Erhai Lake on the foot of the 4000m high Cang Shan mountain range and is mainly inhabited by people of the Bai ethnic group. We visit the 3 Pagodas of the San Ta Si Monastery from the 9th century and take the cable car to the Zhonghe Monastery that is located half way up Cangshan Mountain. From there a well maintained walkway called the "Jade-Belt-Path" follows along the Eastern slope of the mountain for 11km and offers spectacular views over the Dali valley and the Erhai Lake below.
We then continue to Xizhou. Xizhou is famous for it well preserved Qing style architecture. The rest of the afternoon is at your own disposal for the exploration of the picturesque old town of Xizhou. Overnight accommodation is at a typical, old Bai style boutique hotel in Xizhou.

Day 2:   XIZHOU - SHAXI (B/-/-) (120km / 3.5 hrs)

Drive through a beautiful landscape towards Shaxi (Sideng). The traditional Bai village of Shaxi (Sideng) is located about 120 km southwest of Lijiang in the stunning surroundings of the Shaxi Valley. Shaxi was formerly an important pivotal stop on the Tea and Horse trail from Yunnan to Tibet. The village has been renovated and is preserved with the help of the Swiss government. In the afternoon drive to the Shibao Mountain. The impressive rock carvings of Shibao Mountain are over 1300 years old and are testimony of the spread of Mahayana Buddhism in the region. You can either walk back to Shaxi (2 hrs) or take the car back to the hotel. Overnight accommodation is at a 150 year old, traditional Bai style house that has been transformed into boutique hotel with 3 Star comforts.

Day 3:   SHAXI - LAOJUN SHAN (LIMING) - TACHENG (220km / ca 5 hrs) (B/-/D)

Drive to Shigu to see the Yangtze’s famous "First Bend", where the Yangtze River makes an abrupt 180 degree turn and flows for several kilometers, parallel to itself towards the north again. Continue to Liming, the gateway for the magnificent Laojun Shan National Park. Located within the UNESCO protected Three Parallel Rivers National Park, Laojun Shan offers some of the most spectacular red/purple sandstone formations in China. A 2 hours walk to the top of Mount Qian Gui, where millions of years of erosion left behind a magnificent landscape resembling a tortoise shell. On a clear day, Mount Qiangui also offers spectacular views of the surrounding red cliffs and the Huang Mountains in the distance. Continue to Tacheng village which is located in a side valley of the Yangtze River. You stay overnight at a beautiful, tastefully furnished boutique lodge.

Day 4:   TACHENG (B/L/D)

In the Morning we visit the Tacheng Nature Reserve. This Nature Reserve is home to the Yunnan Snub Nosed Golden Monkeys. These Monkeys live in the secluded areas of Southwest China and Northern Myanmar only. They get their names from the short stump of a nose on their round faces, with nostrils arranged forward. Some of the monkeys do not seem to be disturbed by the presence of humans which offers a good chance to observe these endangered animals from a close distance. The afternoon leaves time to take a stroll through the nearby village or relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery from the comfort of the balcony of your room.

Day 5:   TACHENG - CIZHONG  (B/-/D) (150km /ca 4 hrs)

We cross the watershed and drive down into the fertile Mekong Valley past Weixi. The area is mainly home to the Lisu ethnic group. Continue our journey first to the Mekong River, which will be on our left hand side for most of today's journey. Along the way we pay a visit to Khampu Shou Guo Si, a 250 year old Buddhist monastery, located high above the Mekong Valley with beautiful wall paintings. Visit Cizhong, a picturesque village nestled on a sunny terrace above the valley we visit the Catholic Church which was built about a 150 years ago by French and Swiss missionaries. The overnight accommodation is at a small boutique lodge overlooking the Mekong valley.

Day 6:   CIZHONG - DEQIN (B/L/D) (ca 60km / ca 2 hrs)

After Cizhong the road climbs out of the valley and allows breathtaking views over the Mekong valley below. Soon we will get a first glimpse of the imposing Ka Wa Karpo, at 6'700 meters the highest peak of the Yunnan Province and one of the 14 holy mountains for Tibetans. The fascinating, ever changing landscape along the way offers guaranteed many unique photo opportunities! We reach the town of Deqin Si around lunch time. Check in at the hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. Enjoy the breathtaking views of Kawa Karpo from the balcony of your room or take a leisurely walk through the beautiful landscape surrounding the hotel.

Day 7:   DEQIN - MYINGYONG GLACIER - DEQIN (B/-/D)

Today we visit the magnificent Mingyong Glacier, which elegantly flows down the side of Mount Kawa Karpo for 12km. After a 2 hours scenic walk up alongside the Glacier we reach the Taizi Temple from where we enjoy the stunning view of the Mingyong Glacier and the surroundings. Those with some energy left can continue walk for another 30 Minutes to the Lianhua Temple. For those who do not wish to walk the whole distance can rent one of the Mules. Drive back to Deqin. (Total walking time about 4.5 hrs).

Day 8:   DEQIN - BENZILAN (B/L/D) (160km / ca 4.5 hrs)

Weather permitting, early risers can expect an unforgettable sunrise! The road winds its way up the flanks of Mount Bai Mao Xue Shan, over the Ya Kou Pass, which lies on 4292 meters above sea level and back down into the Yangtze Valley. About 10km north of Benzilan we visit one of the most important Tibetan monasteries in the area, the Dhondrumping Gompa, which originally was constructed in 1667. In Shuzhong we visit the Shuzhong Nunnery. The Dhondrumping Monastery and the Shuzhong Nunnery are both sub-monasteries of the Songtsalin Monastery in Zhongdian. We reach Benzilan shortly after lunch. In the afternoon we take a relaxing walk to a secluded Tibetan village. Dinner and overnight accommodation takes place at a tastefully furnished small boutique lodge outside Benzilan.

Day 9:   BENZILAN - ZHONGDIAN (80km / 2hrs) (B/-/-)

We continue our journey south through beautiful and ever changing landscape towards Zhongdian, where we arrive around lunch time. Zhongdian is situated amongst a stunning landscape on the eastern Tibetan plateau at about 3300 meters above sea level.  It recently changed its name and is now called "Shangri-La", after the Shangri-La that the British writer James Hilton described in his Novel "The Lost Horizon". Check in at hotel.  In the afternoon we drive to the picturesque old town of Zhongdian. We climb Turtle Hill and spin the giant prayer wheel three times for a good karma. Time at leisure to explore the ancient town of Zhongdian on your own.

Day 10:   ZHONGDIAN (B/-/D)

In the morning drive out to the Pudacuo National Park, which is located about 20km to the north-east of Zhongdian. This beautiful National Park covers an area of 300km2 and includes the two crystal clear lakes of Bita and Shudu. Located at 3500 Metres above sea level, Pudacuo is regarded as the first region in China to actually achieve the status of “National Park of China”.

The afternoon is at leisure. From the hotel you can walk to the nearby Ganden Sumtseling Gompa, a 300 year old impressive Tibetan Monastery. From a historical point of view the Ganden Sumtseling Gompa is very significant to the region because it was inaugurated personally in the 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. Destroyed during the Cultural Revolution, the Ganden Sumtseling Gompa is now again one of the most important Buddhist monasteries in the area. In the evening dinner takes place at a typical 200 year old Tibetan house.

Day 11:   ZHONGDIAN - TIGER LEAPING GORGE - LIJIANG (B/-/-) (170km / ca 4 hrs)

We leave Zhongdian and the eastern Tibetan Plateau and drive through a magnificent landscape to Qiaotou at the entrance of the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Wedged between the Jade Dragon Mountain and the Haba Mountain range the Tiger Leaping Gorge is reputedly the world’s deepest canyon. It got its name from a story describing how a tiger escaped it’s hunters by leaping across the Yangtze River in one go. We walk down into the Gorge and witness the power of the water squeezing its way through the narrow, at some places only 15m wide gorge. Continue to Lijiang where we arrive in the late afternoon.

Day 12:   LIJIANG (B/-/-)

In the morning you take a stroll through the apparently countless and, on first sight, confusing narrow lanes and canals crisscrossing the picturesque old town. We also learn more about the secrets of the mystic Naxi culture. Part of Lijiang old town was listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage site in 1992. Continue to the wonderful "Black Dragon Pool" Park, from where, weather permitting, one has a spectacular view of the 5596 Meter high "Jade Dragon Mountain". After lunch we head for the village of Yuhu, a romantic village where the Austrian-American Botanist Joseph Rock used to live from 1922 to 1949. His house has been transformed to a small museum about the live and work of Joseph Rock. Drive back to Lijiang. Time at leisure to explore the old town of Lijiang on your own or to enjoy a relaxing massage at the hotel.

Day 13:   LIJIANG DEPARTURE (B/-/-)

Transfer to the Airport.

 

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Some of our tours can contain light hikes of varying legths, please choose whether you are interested.

Mighty Rivers & Holy Mountains

Duration:
12-14 days
Explore the remote parts of Yunnan
Tour Type:
Private Tours

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