Great Gorges and Sacred Peaks

National parks of Yunnan and the trails of Mt. Kawagebo
Overview

overview

Explore a unique and fascinating region of China with a visit to the northern Yunnan Province on this 13-day hiking tour. Arrive in Kunming and visit the local museum to learn about the multitude of cultures that inhabit the region. Then head to Zhongdian, where Chinese and Tibetan worlds collide. Spend some time acclimatizing as you visit a variety of high-altitude sites such as Ganden Sumtseling Monastery. Continue up to Deqin – located at almost 11,000 feet – and enjoy spectacular mountain views along the way. Visit the spectacular and colorful Flying Monastery on your bus ride to Xidang, where you will learn about the local Tibetan way of life as you overnight in a traditional Tibetan village. Begin your trek around Mt. Kawagebo, and explore various scenic and cultural sites along the way. Conclude with a lovely expedition to Mingyong Glacier, or opt for an extension to the Salween River. Unwind in the relaxing town of Lijang, before heading back to Kunming and onward. This is a unique opportunity to explore a confluence of natural and cultural splendor and is sure to provide unforgettable experiences to all who choose to pursue them. (See the Great Gorges & Sacred Peaks JOURNEYS Trip Review for more background on this trip.)

itinerary

itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive Kunming

    Upon arrival, you will be met by your guide and transferred to a comfortable hotel. Kunming, called the City of Eternal Spring, is more than 2,200 years old. The Nationality Museum in Kunming provides an insightful introduction to 26 ethnic groups from all over Yunnan. Visit the ethnic museum, a marvelous showcase of the cultural diversity of this area, either before the trek or at the end. If you wish to arrive early and add sightseeing in the vicinity or Kunming or other areas of China, please ask for suggestions when you sign up for the trip. Your group will meet for a welcome dinner with your guide and JOURNEYS permanent representative in Kunming.

    Meals
    Dinner
    Lodging
    Centrally located 4 * hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: Zhongdian: Taste of Tibet
    Zhongdian, where Tibet and China meet

    Fly to Zhongdian (10,827 ft). Zhongdian, or Gyeltang, is where the Tibetan and Chinese worlds meet. Until recently, it was the northernmost open point for foreign travelers in Yunnan. The city and county have recently been renamed Shangri-La after an exhaustive search (and a strong PR-minded local committee) concluded that this region was the inspiration for James Hilton’s best-selling novel, “Lost Horizon” (1933). Zhongdian is now a modern city at the edge of the vast Tibetan plateau. Today is for acclimatization, and you will spend an easy day, including a visit to the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, which was founded in 1679 by the Fifth Dalai Lama (known as the Great Fifth for his services to Buddhism in Tibet). It is now flourishing with around 800 monks of the Yellow Hat Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Tibetan style hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: Scenic Mountain Drive to Deqin (Dechen)
    Scenic Deqin, where China meets Tibet and Myanmar

    Drive about five hours to Deqin, 10,712 ft. The drive takes you northwest through some stunning scenery that gives you a taste of what to expect on your trek. While there has been extensive logging in this part of Yunnan, enough forest cover remains to get a good sense of the enormous bio-diversity of this area. This region is part of the enormous new Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site created through the assistance of the Nature Conservancy. The road offers spectacular snowy mountain views. Logging is banned and there are active programs of reforestation throughout the county. You will stop at the Dongdrupling Gompa, the second largest in the region and undergoing reconstruction. There may also be time to visit the Shusong Nunnery. The region is famous for the production of bowls made from local azalea wood. Deqin is the last township of Yunnan’s northwesternmost county, and it sits on the border with Tibet to the west and Myanmar (Burma) to the southwest.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: Trek from the Flying Monastery
    Colorfully-adorned, the Flying Monestary is a highlight

    You will travel west by bus to Flying Monastery for a panorama view of Mt. Kawagebo. Thousands of brightly-colored prayer flags, enormous incense burners, and hundreds of religious pilgrims create a beautiful scene of natural beauty and cultural ceremony. You will first circle the chortens, then start descending to Mekong Valley. It is a two-hour walk to the bridge of Yong Dzon. After a picnic lunch at Yong Dzon, you will hike for one hour to Xidang, a Tibetan village overlooking the Mekong. Stay overnight at a Tibetan lodge in Xidang.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Tibetan style lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: Trek through Alpine Pass to Yubeng
    Spend the night in a mountain lodge

    Today you will start hiking from Xidang. You will climb from 7,500 ft to over 10,500 ft at the pass, through beautiful, pristine alpine forest. This forest is rich in bird life, including many Giant and Elliott’s Laughing Thrushes. After a picnic at the summit (where there may still be snow in early spring), you will descend to the isolated village of Yubeng 5,479 ft. This is a spectacularly beautiful mountain valley beneath towering snow-covered peaks. Total hiking today will be about seven hours. Horses may be available upon request. You will spend the night in a small lodge.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Basic lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: Mt. Kawagebo Glacier & Sacred Waterfall
    Enjoy another view of Mt. Kawagebo and its glacier

    Weather permitting, you'll wake up to a clear view of the Mt. Kawagebo glacier. After breakfast, you will hike to the sacred waterfall, from which Yubeng's name originated. Buddhists on a pilgrimage to the area circumambulate the waterfall 13 times in the belief that this act will erase all sins from this life. In the early afternoon, you'll head back to the village lodge, visiting sacred sites along the way. Enormous hemlocks, rhododendrons, and fir trees line the path. Sunbirds are common. Pilgrims have piled rocks in balanced columns along the rivers in reverence of local spirits.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Basic lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: Mt. Kawagebo Base Camp
    Enjoy a beautiful mountain trek today

    Today you will hike to the Base Camp of the ill-fated Japanese expedition in 1991. It is a beautiful trek to Xiaonong where Tibetans graze their yaks in summertime. If time and the group's energies allow, continue hiking to Glacier Lake, or just enjoy the beauty of this high meadow, watching the high glaciers as little icefalls and avalanches tumble down the slopes. Return to Yubeng for overnight again.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Basic lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: Mingyong Village
    Enjoy a hearty, excellent local dinner

    Retrace your steps to the trailhead. Your car will meet you at the foot of the mountain and drive you to Mingyong village for an overnight at a pleasant lodge. Local Tibetans run this small lodge by the edge of a glacial cascade. Accommodations are surprisingly comfortable for this remote location. The local food is excellent.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: Mingyong Glacier
    Explore local villages along the way

    Today's morning hike will be relatively easy, but ponies or mules are available for hire on the uphill leg. Your destination is Taizi Monastery built at the edge of the Minyong Glacier. This monastery is believed to be the final destination of a long traditional pilgrimage. Prayer flags smother the entrance to the monastery. Flowers line the lower path. A spectacular boardwalk scaffolding scales the precipitous edge of the glacier, affording incredible views of the glacier and nearby peaks. It is a wonderful, rewarding hike. Return to Deqin for overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: Historic Cizhong Village
    Descend to subtropical valley conditions

    We offer an optional trek extension for your consideration to the Salween River (ask us for details). Today you will descend from high Deqin to the scenic, subtropical Mekong Valley. After breakfast, you will drive along the Mekong to Cizhong (6,234 ft), where you will visit the village church built of stone in the early 20th century. This church remarkably escaped destruction in the Cultural Revolution. It is the center of a rapidly-expanding grape growing region. Also, you will visit Yechi, the ancient governor’s house and lesser Weixi Church. Enjoy a scenic drive to Weixi for your overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local lodge
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: Yangtze River
    Experience the mighty Yangtze, one of the world's great rivers

    After breakfast, you will be drive about five hours to the mighty Yangtze River, leaving the mountains and forest behind. You will visit the Stone Drum Town and the great bend of the Yangtze. You will see modern China shaping the landscape once again. Continue driving to Lijiang for overnight in a very nice hotel at the edge of the old town.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: Lijiang Old Town
    Explore Lijiang's old town, especially the markets

    You will spend the whole morning wandering in Lijiang Old Town, an ideal place to relax after this long journey. Lijang is a favorite destination for travelers from all over China as well as the rest of the world. Here you will find traditional architecture and culture well-preserved in everyday life. The food here is superb. The Chinese tourists are a curiosity for us, as we are for them, and you may find yourselves taking pictures of each other. In the afternoon, you will take a flight back to Kunming for overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Local hotel
    Show on a map
  • Day 13: Kunming / Onward
    Consider extending your time in Beijing so you can visit the Great Wall

    You’ll be transferred to the airport for your flight and connections to other destinations. You may be surprised at the efficiency of Chinese airports, the quality of the in-flight service, and the on-time performance. Consider adding a few days before or after your trekking adventure in Hong Kong or Beijing.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map
Price and Date Details

Price and Date Details

Oct 12-24, 2015 Tour operates May-June & Oct-Nov
Or Privately on Request
Land Cost:
$3,775
Kunming/Zhongdian & Lijiang/Kunming flights add $450 (estimated)
Single Supplement:
$400
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Need to Know

Need to Know

Extension trek to Salween River: If you would like to add more challenging trekking to this trip, we highly recommend this extension, which takes you over the high ridge separating the Mekong and Salween Rivers. This four-day trek, completing the last eight days of the trip in Yunnan, is a Grade III trip, which includes tent camping and the possibility of hiking over snow at Peacock Pass. This is more challenging hiking than you will have experienced earlier in the trip. You will have horses or porters to carry the group’s equipment and personal duffle bags. The pass crossing offers spectacular views of several mountain ranges. This trip is best attempted May-June or October-November to avoid the summer monsoon and winter snows.

Duration:
13 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost. The total number of days includes the time required to travel between the USA and the destination country.
Comfort Level:
1
basic lodges to comfortable hotels
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
Activity Level:
4
basic lodges to comfortable hotels
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Included in costs: Meals as noted, each night in double occupancy accommodations, land transfers between components, English speaking guides, park or site entry fees, surface transport, equipment other than personal gear, government tax, airport transfer assistance, in-country ticket reconfirmation and check-in assistance (where permitted), complete pre-departure packet, toll-free pre-departure phone assistance.

Not included in costs: Meals not noted as included, gratuities, beverages (except tea or coffee at meals), international or domestic airfare unless specified, airport departure taxes not included with air tickets, visas, itinerary changes after confirmation, any services not included in itinerary, any costs incurred due to canceled or delayed flights, acts of nature or other happenings beyond our control, or other costs as are more fully described in JOURNEYS Terms & Conditions.

Deposit and payment schedule: $500 per person per trip or the applicable amount based on the trip and the proximity of the departure date. A second deposit of $800 per person is due four months prior to departure, and final payment for land arrangements is due 60 days prior to departure.  Any applicable permit fees required in advance are non-refundable as well.  Airlines require full payment when tickets are issued. The deposit may be made by Visa, Master Card, American Express, or check, and the Reservation Form may be submitted by fax, mail, or via our website. Full payment schedule and cancellation penalties are described in our Terms and Conditions as noted in our Global Expedition Catalog, on our website, and elsewhere. Please request these if you do not have them before advancing a deposit.

Air fares: JOURNEYS can make complete air arrangements applicable to your trip as noted in this itinerary. If you wish to redeem frequent flyer mileage or arrange flights directly with the airline, you may do so on your own at no penalty. If you do, please consult with us on exact arrival and departure dates and times before having your tickets issued to avoid errors.

Insurance: When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee: There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Resources

Trip Extensions

Trip Extensions

Beijing Essence Tour

Duration: 5 days

This extension takes you on an exploration of all the major sites in and around Beijing. Visit the Forbidden City, Summer Palace, and Temple of Heaven, all fine examples of exceptional Chinese architecture. See one of the 7 Wonders of the World at th... read more

Trek to Salween River

Duration: 8 days

If you would like to add more challenging trekking to this trip, we highly recommend this extension, which takes you over the high ridge separating the Mekong and Salween Rivers. This four-day trek, completing the last eight days of the trip in Yunna... read more

Shanghai Excursion

Duration: 3 days

Shanghai is the largest city in China with over 24 million people and the largest city proper in the world.  This is an exciting way to begin or end your China adventure. A highlight will be an exciting high-speed bullet train ride from Beijing.

×