Botanical Wonders of China's Sichuan Province with Denver Botanic Gardens (June 9-23, 2020)

Day 1 (Tues, June 9): Arrival ~ Upon arrival to Chengdu Shuangli International Airport (CTU), you’ll be met for your transfer to the hotel.  Get to know fellow travelers this evening during the Welcome Dinner.

Accommodations: Dorsett Hotel or similar

Meals: Dinner

Important Note: Arrival flights will be coordinated for the group.

Day 2 (Wed, June 10): Chengdu/ Jiuzhaigou ~ Morning transfer back to the airport in time for your flight to Jiuhuang (JZH). Continue to Jiuzhaigou with botanical stops along the way. Your hotel for the next two nights is conveniently located 10 minutes from Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park and close to Jiuzhaigou Scenic Area.

Accommodations: Mingren Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: Approximately 2 hrs without stops (90 km; 56 miles).

Expected Max Elevation: 3100 m (10,170 ft)

Day 3 (Thurs, June 11): Jiuzhaigou Valley National Park ~ Today brings a full day of exploring Jiuzhai Valley National Park (locally known as Jiuzhaigou), China’s premier national park. More than just spectacular scenery, Jiuzhai Valley National Park is home to nine Tibetan villages, over 220 bird species as well as a number of endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda, Sichuan golden monkey, the Sichuan takin and numerous orchids and rhododendrons. It is best known for its fabled blue and green lakes, spectacular waterfalls, narrow conic karst landforms and its unique wildlife. It was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. It is located on the edge of the Tibetan Himalayan Plateau at elevations ranging between 1990 m (6529 feet) to 4764 m (15,630 feet) above sea level. Jiuzhai Valley provides spectacular scenery throughout the year making it one of China’s most treasured scenic sites.

Accommodations: Mingren Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Expected Max Elevation: 3200 m (10,500 ft)

Day 4 (Fri, June 12): Jiuzhaigou/ Huanglong National Scenic Reserve ~ Travel to Huanglong National Scenic Reserve with botanical stops along the way. 

Accommodations: Se’ercuo Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: Approximately 2.5 hrs without stops (110 km; 70 miles).

Expected Max Elevation: 3600 m (11,811 ft)

Day 5 (Sat, June 13): Huanglong National Scenic Reserve ~ Full day at Huanglong National Scenic Reserve. The ‘World Wonder’ and ‘Fairy Land on Earth’ are names given to the Huanglong Scenic and Historic Interest Area, which is well known for its colorful Huanglong pool, lakes, snow-clad mountains, valleys and virgin forest. It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

Accommodations: Se’ercuo Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Expected Max Elevation: 3900 m (12,795 ft)

Day 6 (Sun, June 14) Huanglong / Chuanzhusi ~ Drive back to Chuanzhusi town crossing Xuebaoding Mountain (‘Snow Treasue Peak’) with time to enjoy the local flora of this high alpine environment.  With a height of 5588 m (18,300 ft), Xuebaoding is higher than almost any mountain in North America. 

Accommodations: Chuanzhusi International Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: 1.5 hours (50 km; 31 miles)

Expected Max Elevation: 4000 m (13,125 ft)

Day 7 (Mon, June 15): Chuanzhusi/ Maoxian ~ Travel to Maoxian today with visits to Songpan Ancient Town and Baishi Qiang Village.  Songpan Ancient Town was originally founded in the Tang Dynasty and rebuilt during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It was one of the most important towns on the Southern Silk Road. You’re sure to be impressed by the grand, ancient constructions that have been fairly well preserved through the centuries. You’ll also visit Baishi Qiang Village. 

Accommodations: Maoxian International Hotel or Similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: 4.5 hrs (160 km; 100 miles)

Expected Max Elevation: 3000 m (5250 ft)

Day 8 (Tues, June 16): Maoxian/ Siguniangshan ~ Drive to Siguniangshan Town. On the way, explore plants at the top pass on the old road of Balang Shan Mountain

Accommodations: Artistic Conception Resort Hotel or Similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: 6.5 hrs (220 km; 137 miles)

Expected Max Elevation: 4600 m (15,100 ft)

Day 9 (Wed, June 17): Siguniangshan Mountain Scenic Area ~ Full day visit to Mount Siguniangshan (“Four Maiden’s Mountain’) Scenic Area.  Mt. Siguniangshan is famed for its steep and imposing ridges. The high meadows are gorgeous throughout the year. Hundreds of wildflowers burst forth in spring, giving way to luxuriant green trees and grass in summer. In the fall, the leaves on the trees blaze in color heralding the coming snows of winter. Because of the clear, blue sky, the thick forest, the verdant grassland, and the murmuring streams, it is sometimes known as the ‘Alps of the Orient’. You may, in fact, think you are in southern Europe.

Accommodations: Artistic Conception Resort Hotel or Similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: 30 mins each way (10 km; 6 miles)

Expected Max Elevation: 3900 m (12,795 ft)

Day 10 (Thurs, June 18): Siguniangshan/ Balang Shan ~ Drive back the top pass of Balang Shan for a full day of exploring.

Accommodations: Artistic Conception Resort Hotel or Similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: Approximately 1.5 hrs each way (50 km; 31 miles)

Expected Max Elevation: 4600 m (15,100 ft)

Day 11 (Fri, June 19): Siguniangshan/ Danba/ Bamei ~ Drive to Bamei with a botanical stop at Geda Liangzi Pass. You’ll also visit Qiang Village for its impressive watchtower at Danba. The village is known as the ‘Ancient Oriental Fortress’ because of its aged stone houses and two nine-story hexahedral watch towers.

Accommodations: Daofu Yijia Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: 5 hrs without stops (200 km; 125 miles)

Expected Max Elevation: 4000 m; 13,123 ft

Day 12 (Sat, June 20): Bamei/ Kangding ~ Drive to Kangding with a visit to the beautiful Tibetan monastery near Tagong.  There’s also time to enjoy the flora of Zheduo Shan Mountain Pass today.

Accommodations: Kangding Gesanghua Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: 4 hrs without stops (150 km; 93 miles)

Expected Max Elevation: 4400 m (14,435 ft)

Day 13 (Sun, June 21): Kangding ~ Today, visit Yajiangeng Climbing Base of Ganzi Prefecture.  Yajiangeng offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and hiking with gorgeous alpine landscapes.  If time permits, proceed to Red Rock Scenic Spot before returning to Kanding.

Accommodations: Kangding Gesanghua Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: 4 hrs without stops (30 km; 19 miles each way)

Expected Max Elevation: 4400 m (14,435 ft)

Day 14 (Mon, June 22): Kangding/ Chengdu ~ Travel by highway from Kangding to Chengdu today.  Share travel tales from your journey during tonight’s Farewell Dinner.

Accommodations: Dorsett Hotel or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated drive time today: 6 hrs without stops (271 km; 168 miles)

Expected Max Elevation: 3200 m (10,500 ft)

Day 15 (Tues, June 23): Chengdu/ Departure ~ Visit the Panda Breeding Center in Chengdu this morning.   Transfer to the airport in time to connect to your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast

Important Note: Departure flights will be coordinated for the group.

Details

Price: $5965* per person based on double occupancy.  Supplement for private accommodations: $555*.
 
Inclusions: domestic flight from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou; gratuities for guide, driver and hotel bellboys; basic no-trip cost travel insurance that includes emergency medical evacuation; accommodations with breakfast daily; meals on full board basis (lunch package for days in field); private transportation with air-conditioned bus; entrance fees; full-time trip host – Panayoti Kelaidis from Denver Botanic Gardens; and English-speaking local guide.
 
Exclusions: international flights; upgraded travel insurance with pre-trip cancellation benefit; passport/visa fees; personal expenses; optional activities not listed in the itinerary.
 
*Pricing and availability are subject to change until domestic flight is booked, deposit received, and confirmed in writing. A 3% discount will be applied to payments by check.
 
Special Considerations
Many of the locations included in this itinerary are located above 2440 m (8000 ft) in elevation and most days we will drive several thousand feet above this to over 4575 m (15,000 ft) on several occasions. We do not advise signing up for this trip if you are prone to altitude sickness or have a cardiovascular condition.  All participants must apply and obtain a visa prior to departure.  Obtaining a visa is the sole responsibility of the participant and proof is required for participation.  
 
About Your Host
Panayoti Kelaidis is a plant explorer, gardener and public garden administrator associated with Denver Botanic Gardens where he is now Senior Curator and Director of Outreach. He has introduced hundreds of native ornamentals from throughout the Western United States to general horticulture. He has taken seven collecting trips to Southern Africa researching the high mountain flora there, as well as travels to the Andes, Central Asia (Kazakhstan and Mongolia), the Himalaya (from both Pakistan and China) as well as travels throughout much of Europe from Spain to Georgia, Turkey and most recently, New Zealand. He has lectured in over 140 cities in twelve countries, and has been featured in dozens of television, newspaper and magazine pieces. He has published widely in popular and technical horticultural journals.  Over the last 35 years, Mr. Kelaidis has led dozens of popular tours for Denver Botanic Gardens, the American Horticultural Society and the North American Rock Garden society throughout North America, South Africa and on two occasions to China.  
 
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