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Tours ~ Tour Details

Yunnan - In the footsteps of the Plant Hunters

14 Nightsfrom £3995.00 pp

A botanical adventure in ‘Shangri-La’.

Tour Overview

In 1904, a 31 year-old herbarium assistant called George Forrest set off from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh for a great adventure to the other side of the world – the remote, mountainous region of Yunnan, south-west China. For this intrepid Scot, his first journey would start his love affair with the tough, challenging existence of a plant hunter, and with the landscape of Yunnan. For British gardens, this trip and Forrest’s subsequent expeditions would mean a wealth of scientific discoveries and new botanical gems.

Now, over a hundred years later, travel to China is not as daunting as it was in Forrest’s day, and we are delighted to announce the opportunity to travel to Yunnan and follow a most stimulating itinerary where our group will experience a wonderful botanical and cultural exploration.

Yunnan is a vast land with towering mountains and roaring rivers, home to the fabled and beautiful lands of Shangri-La. Thanks to its unique topography Yunnan has not only glaciers and stunning snow-capped mountains with high altitude plants, but also sub-tropical basins - hot valleys which are home to lush tropical vegetation. For this reason it is clear why Yunnan has for generations been known as ‘the kingdom of flora and fauna’.  Rhododendrons abound – out of the 530 species of Rhododendron in China 200 are found in Yunnan. Among China’s 300 species of Primula, 100 can be seen in the region. Gentiana, Cermanthodium and Corydalis - the list goes on and on.

Tour Highlights
  • Plant hunting at Gang Ho Ba National park
  • Botanising flowers atop Cashang Mountain
  • Spectacular views from the Shika Shan cable car
  • Stunning golden rooftops of Songzam Monastery
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Tour Itinerary Back to top of page

Tuesday 6 June 2017
Depart from London on our scheduled overnight flight to Kunming. Regional flight connections, flight upgrades and overnight accommodation before or after the tour available on request – please ask for a quotation.

Wednesday 7 June 2017

On arrival in Kunming we will be met by our English-speaking Chinese Agent and will transfer to our hotel in Kunming.  The rest of the day will be free to relax and recover from our long flight.  Dinner will be served in a local restaurant in the evening.

Thursday 8 June 2017
Following breakfast, we have a full day visit to an area called The Stone Forest. The Stone Forest is an amazing geological feature of limestone formations and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site.  Lunch is included and will be served in the local restaurant near the scenic spot.

We return to Kunming where dinner will be served in the hotel this evening.

Friday 9 June 2017
This morning after breakfast, we check out of our hotel and take the short morning flight from Kunming to Dali.  On arrival we join our coach and travel just to the north of Dali to Xizhou which lies between Erhai Lake and Cangshan Mountain. It is famous for Bai culture and well preserved old folk houses.  The Bai homes include carved wooden arts, clay and marble sculptures and paintings, all representing their beliefs and culture.

We will also visit the famous Three Pagodas and monastery. Their elegant, balanced and stately style is unique in China’s ancient Buddhist architecture, which makes them a must-see in the tour of Dali. The Three Pagodas, visible from miles away, are a landmark of Dali City and selected as a national treasure in China.

Lunch is included today.

We continue to our hotel in Dali. Dinner will be served in a local restaurant.  

Saturday 10 June 2017
This morning, following breakfast, we shall take the cable car up to the top of Cangshang Mountain (4100M) to botanise the flowers.

Lunch is included today in a local restaurant.  The afternoon will be free to explore the city at leisure.

Dinner will be served in the evening.

Sunday 11 June 2017
This morning after breakfast, we check out of our hotel and travel out into the countryside properly, on a coach transfer of approximately 4 hours northwards to the town of Lijiang. There will be several stops en route to view rice fields and sites of botanical interest along the way. Lunch (included) will be in a local restaurant on arrival in Lijiang.

We shall continue to our accommodation and dinner will be served in a local restaurant this evening.

Monday 12 June 2017
Following an early breakfast, we depart for a full day plant-hunting at Gang Ho Ba National Park and the area around Bai Shui. Set in the Jade Dragon Mountains above the city of Lijiang the unique geology of the Gang Ho Ba provides a wide range of habitats which makes for a rich array of flora that inhabits its misty corners.  Bai Shui comprises two lakes, one with a natural terrace formed from deposited minerals.  A picnic lunch will be included.

We return to our hotel.  Dinner will be served in a local restaurant this evening.

Tuesday 13 June 2017
Following breakfast, we will have another full day plant-hunting in the Gang Ho Ba lower pass. A picnic lunch will be included.

We return to our hotel.  Dinner will be served in a local restaurant this evening.

Wednesday 14 June 2017

Today, following breakfast, we will visit the village of Yuhu and the residence where the Austrian/American explorer and botanist, Joseph Rock, lived for approximately 25 years from 1922. In the house there are various articles and memorabilia plus many old photographs. We shall also visit the Yufeng Monastery with its 500 year old Camellia and probably the most iconic tourist destination in the Lijiang area – The Black Dragon Pool Park - a famous pond in the scenic Jade Spring Park with stunning views to the high mountains.

Lunch is included in a local restaurant.

The afternoon will be at leisure.

Dinner will be served in a local restaurant.  Following dinner this evening we will have a Naxi music performance in the old town before returning to our hotel.

Thursday 15 June 2017
This morning after breakfast, we check out of our hotel and travel from Lijiang to Zhongdian, also known as Shangri-La. En route we will visit the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge – reputed to be the deepest gorge in the world with an appropriate Tiger Leaping Legend.  Lunch is included in a local restaurant.

There will be more opportunity to botanise on the way north to Zhongdian closer to the China – Tibet border, where we will notice quite a cultural change.  Zhongdian was renamed Shangri-La in 2001 after the fictional land of Shangri-La in the 1933 James Hilton novel, Lost Horizon, in an effort to promote tourism in the area.

We continue to our accommodation.  Dinner will be served in a local restaurant this evening.

Friday 16 June 2017
Today following breakfast, we visit the Songzam Monastery also known as the little Potala Palace. It is set on a hill in a dominating position overlooking the village and surrounding area making it a most impressive complex with its golden roofs.   A picnic lunch will be included.
Later we will botanise at the Napa Lake Meadow and view the Alpine Garden of Fang Zhengdong.  We return to our hotel.  Dinner will be served in a local restaurant this evening.

Saturday 17 June 2017
Following breakfast, we will have a full and exciting day’s botanising, via the Shika Shan cable car, through a rhododendron forest and a wonderful range of habitat with masses of flowers, potentially the botanical highlight of the tour. We have the option here of getting the cable car up and walking down (6-7 hours) or going up and down on the cable car – depending on the mobility of the group. A picnic lunch will be included.

We return to our hotel.  Dinner will be served in a local restaurant this evening.

Sunday 18 June 2017
This morning after breakfast we transfer to Zhongdian airport for our flight to Kunming. On arrival we join our coach and will visit the Dragon Gate and the Hua Ting Temple before the option of visiting either the Birds and Flower Market or the Kunming Botanical Garden.  A picnic lunch will be included.

We shall return to our hotel and dinner will be served in a local restaurant.

Monday 19 June 2017
This morning after breakfast you will have some free time at leisure for last minute shopping, exploration and lunch (not included) before our transfer to Kunming Airport for our return flight.

Tuesday 20 June 2017
Arrival is due in London this morning, when the group will disperse or make onward connections.

What's Included Back to top of page

  • 12 nights’ full board: three nights at the 4-star Jinjiang Hotel, Kunming (or similar); two nights at the 4-star Landscape Hotel, Dali (or similar); four nights at the 4-star Jinfu Hotel, Lijiang (or similar); three nights at the 4-star Old Town Inn, Zhongdian (or similar)
  • Return flights from London to Kunming (regional flight connections and upgrades available on request)
  • Internal flights from Kunming to Dali and from Zhongdian to Kunming
  • Air-conditioned coaching throughout
  • All entrance fees as per itinerary
  • Chinese Tourist Visa
  • Services of a botanical expert guide, plus local English-speaking guide

Supplements Per Person Back to top of page

  • Single room supplement         £480.00
  • Insurance                               On request

Departure Points Back to top of page

Click here to print a brochure
Click here to make an online reservation

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