Elite China International Travel Service

Yunnan Brid Watching Tour

Kunming-Dali-Baihualing-Lijiang-Zhongdian-Kunming ( 17 days )

Places to watch birds :

River mouth (such as Daihe river, Yanghe river, Dapuhe river), Chitushan hill, Geziwo (Pigeon nest), Lianfengshan hill, Qilihai, Happy Island, Shanhaiguan pass, Laoling (old summit).

Time to watch birds :

General, needs about 3-10days for birding. The best birding time is from late April to middle May; better in middle and late Oct for another peak for bird migrating; and from late Aug to Sep for migrating birds of middle & small size; in Mar and Nov cranes migrating.

Better time to watch birds: From late Apr to late Octo

Jan: not many as resident birds watched.

Feb: Anser fabalis (Bean Goose) fly in the sky.

Mar: Winter birds start to leave; Gooses, cranes etc migrating via Beidaihe.

Apr: Chirping birds.

Late Apr-Earlier May: Peak time for migrating birds such as Oriolus chinensis (lack-naped orioleb), Phylloscopus etc.

Jun: Breeding time for some birds.

Jul-Aug: Charadriiformes.

Sep-Oct: Another peak for birds migrating. Circus melanoleucos (Pied Harrier) migrating better from 09:00 to 11:00 in the morning.

Nov: Peak time to watch cranes etc.

Dec: Resident birds.


Day 1 Arrive in Kunming (D)

Arrive in Kunming, known as “The City of Eternal Spring”. Pick up from airport and transfer to the hotel. If time permits, visit the Flower and Bird Market at Jingming Street, where is an interesting places either for a leisurely stroll or to purchase some lovely things.

Day 2 Kunming - Dali (B-L-D) Bus / Birding

Transfer to the shuttle bus station and take bus to Dali (4.5 hours, without guide service). Dali is a historically and culturally famous city of China, which is renowned for her historical interests. Dali City stands against Cangshan Mountain in the west and adjoins Erhai Lake in the east, and is embraced by undulating hills around. Meet your guide at the airport. Then, take cable car to Cangshan Mountian, the stunningly beautiful mountain boasts its high peaks, uncertain clouds, susurrating streams and capping snow. Birding along the Jade Belt Road with soft trekking for the whole afternoon.

Birding along the Jade Belt Road

Birding along the Jade Belt Road

Day 3 Dali - Baihualing (Gaoligong Mountain) (B-L-D) Birding

Drive about 5 hours to Baihualing Nature Reserve in Gaoligong Mountain. Stay overnight in the reserve guest house.

Baihualing is on the eastern slop of the Gaoligong Mountains which is located in Baoshan District of Yunnan Province. Baihualing is famous for its many varieties of plants and birds.

Birds at Baihualing: Sclater’s Monal (high elevations only), Silver and Mrs. Hume’s Pheasants, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Ward’s Trogon (rare), Brown Wood Owl, Hodgson’s Frogmouth, White-bellied Green Pigeon, Long-tailed Broadbill, White-winged Magpie (rare), three species of shortwing including Gould’s, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Spotted, Grey-sided, Blue-winged, Scaly and Red-tailed Laughingthrushes, Coral and Slender-billed Scimitar Babblers, Grey-bellied Wren Babbler, Black-headed Shrike Babbler, Yellow-throated Fulvetta and Beautiful Sibia. Arguably Baihualing’s greatest avian attraction however s Cachar Wedge-billed Wren, a species that’s not uncommon here. Dark-rumped Swift has even been reported here.

Birds at Baihualing

Birds at Baihualing

Day 4 Baihualing (B-L-D) Birding

Bird watching under the guide of nature reserves. Stay overnight in local guest house.

Day 5 Baihualing (B-L-D) Birding

Bird watching under the guide of nature reserves. Stay overnight in local guest house.

Day 6 Baihualing - Dali (B-L-D) Bus

Drive back to Dali, and visit Xizhou Village, located 18 kilometers north of Dali, faces Erhai on the east. It grew and flourished in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) along with the fortunes of Dali renowned tea merchants that traded to Tibet. It is not only a historically famous city but also a typical commercial center of Bai Ethnic Nationality.

Xizhou Village

Xizhou Village

Day 7 Dali - Lijiang (B-L-D) Birding

Drive to Lijiang (about 3.5 hours), a beautiful town with narrow cobblestones streets that crisscross small canals; Lijiang is home to the Naxi ethnic people, resplendent in their royal blue tunics. Visit Baisha Murals in Baisha Naxi village, an artistic Crystallization combining the Naxi, Tibetan, Bai and Han styles. Birding in Baisha Village and Wenhai region in the half of Jade Dragon Mountain depends on time. Stay overnight in Lijiang.

Wenhai LakeWenhai Lake, a sub-alpine lake within the Lashihai Nature Reserve (Situated along the southeastern slopes of the towering Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (5500 meters) and surrounded by mountains on all sides, the diamond-shaped basin of Lashihai Watershed is a spectacular setting for exploring the intricate relationship between the abundant natural resources of this land and the people who live off it.), is a habitat for migrating birds, most notably the endangered black stork. Each year, for reasons not yet completely known, Wenhai undergoes a transformation from sub- alpine lake to grazing grasslands. Beginning in early spring, the lake gradually disappears, believed to drain through underground limestone formations to Lashi Lake, about 500 meters below. Then, with the return of the summer rainy season, Wenhai Lake begins to fill again. By fall it reaches its full size, ready for the arrival of migratory birds in late December. The watershed’s highland forests support a wide variation of plant and animal species, including protected raptors, forest wildlife, traditional medicinal plants and treasured fungi. In spring, the region’s famous rhododendrons – over 15 species -- burst into bloom, creating mountains of colorful flowers.

Located northwest of Kunming and bordered Tibet, Lijiang has the wonderfully picturesque old town and great and beautiful surroundings. It boasts Naxi, Tibetan, Mosu, Lisu and Pumi nationalities, breathtaking mountain and lake scenery, Tibetan monasteries, deep gorges and the backpacker comforts of Lijiang’s lovely old town.

There are several good areas to go birding around Lijiang:

a. Black Dragon Pool Park is right on the northeastern edge of Lijiang town This is the best site in China for Giant Nuthatch - search the “relict pines” near the second pavilion/pagoda near the stepped track around Elephant Mountain.

b. Lashihai (Lashihai Lake or previously more commonly known as Lashiba Hai) – a sizeable lake 20 kilometers almost directly west of Lijiang that holds large numbers of wintering waterfowl (often including small numbers of Falcated Duck), Common Cranes and occasional birds of prey such as White-tailed Eagle.

c. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain: About 35 kilometers (50 minutes drive) north of Lijiang is this spectacular mountain. In winter it’s largely inaccessible but spring visits can produce Buff-throated Partridge, White Eared & Lady Amherst's Pheasants, Rufous-bellied Woodpecker, White- throated Redstart, Giant Laughingthrush, Rufous-tailed Babbler & both Alpine & Maroon-backed Accentors here. There are several chairlifts up the mountain – the one at Yun Shan Ping Suo Dao starts at 09:00 & goes up to Yun Shan Ping (4700 meters) and is the best for birding.

Birds at Baihualing

Birds at Yunnan

Birds at Baihualing

Birds at Yunnan

Birds at Baihualing

Birds at Yunnan

Day 8 Lijiang (B-L-D) Birding

Take a cable car to visit Yak Meadow situated at the middle of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain , at an altitude of 3,800 meters. The beautiful natural scenery there is an important part of the mountain, and you will not only see many yaks on the plateau, but also horses and donkeys. Birding on the plateau region. Stay overnight in Lijiang.

Day 9 Lijiang (B-L-D) Birding

Extra day for birding at Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, take a cable car to Yak Meadow. Stay overnight in Lijiang.

Day 10 Lijiang (B-L-D) Bus / Birding

Drive to Lashihai (Lashi Lake) for birding. Stay overnight in Lijiang.

Lashihai (Lashi Lake): At an elevation of 2500 meters, Lashihai (Lashi Lake) is the largest highland lake in Lijiang County, and an important habitat for over 57 species of migratory birds, the highest waterbird species diversity of any lake in Northwest Yunnan. During the winter months, the lake is home to tens of thousands of migratory birds, including protected species such as the black-necked crane, whooper swan and black stork. The birds come to Lashihai to feed on its abundance of local crops, aquatic plant species and 7 different species of fish. The Class III protected water lily is one of the 47 aquatic plant species found in the lake.

Lashi Lake

Lashi Lake

Day 11 Lijiang - Tiger Leaping Gorge - Haba Village Bus

Drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge, located on the upstream of the Yangtze River in Yunnan, honored as the deepest and most marvelous gorges in the world. From the top of the gorge you look down the steeply angled (70-90 degrees) mountain sides to the rushing Jinsha River with its 18 frothing rapids more than 200 meters below. Take soft trekking till middle gorge, and birding on the way. Then, drive to Haba Village. Stay overnight in local farmer’s home.

Day 12 Haba Village - Zhongdian (B-L-D) Bus

Drive to Zhongdian, is known as Shangri-La which was described as a heaven away from the turbulent mundane world in James Hilton’s novel “The lost Horizon” in 1993. Shangri-La, a Tibetan word, means “land of sacredness and peace”. Birding on the way.

Day 13 - 15 Zhongdian (B-L-D) Birding

Birding in around Zhongdian at Hanmugu Village, Napahai Lake and Big Valley for highland pasture and swamp, maybe have chance to watch black-necked crane and other birds. Maybe visit Bitahai Lake nature Reserve. Stay overnight in Zhongdian.

Napahai Lake: Napahai Lake is located 8km to the northwest of Zhongdian County. It is the ideal habitation for black-necked cranes. From September to March of the next year, these rare birds have been staying here for about half a year.

Shangri-la Big Valley: Shangri-la Valley locates in the northwest of Shangri-la County. It is 76km (42 miles) away from the county, 81 kilometers (50 miles) away from Shangri-la airport. With the total area of 176 square kilometers, it connects the Birang Valley in the east, the Shangqiaotou Village in the south, the Derong County in Sichuang Province in the west and the Dongwang Village in the north. The highest peak in the Shangri-la Valley is the Balagengzong Snow Mountain with the altitude of 5,545 meters (18,192 feet), and the lowest point is the Shuizhuang Village with the altitude of 2,000 meters (6,561 feet). The main sight in this scenic area is the valley with its abundant topographic features and plants. And the Tibetan custom and culture based on the Tibetan Buddhism and Holy Mountains infuse the spirit to the scenic area.

Bitahai Lake: Bitahai Lake, a huge alpine lake, lies in the east of Zhongdian County seat, and is the highest lake in Yunnan Province. Bitahai Lake is famous for its intact natural attraction with outstanding flora and fauna and picturesque landscape.

Birds at Baihualing

Napahai Lake

Birds at Baihualing

Bitahai Lake

Day 16 Zhongdian - Kunming aircraft

Take a morning flight to Kunming. Today’s highlight is to visit the Stone Forest (Shilin). The Stone Forest is in Lunan Yi Nationality, which is about 120km from Kunming. This area offers visitors a unique landscape of stark limestone pillars twisted and sculpted by wind and water erosion some 270 million year ago. From a distance, these stone pillars look indeed like a dense forest; hence the name of Stone Forest. It covers an area of 350 square kilometers, yet only about 11.92 square kilometers have been developed as scenic landscape open to the public. Then, drive back to Kunming.

Day 17 Depart from Kunming (B)

Transfer to the airport, and fly out.