Price is based on double or twin hotel room occupancy and includes accommodation, transfers, car/driver, English-speaking guide, activities and entrance fees, breakfasts and some casual lunches while touring. Flights and optional special activities will be quoted separately. Most personal expenses, including dinners, alcoholic beverages, spa treatments and gratuities can be paid on the spot while traveling. Prices may vary depending on season, choice of accommodation and other factors.
In the Hengduan Mountains, the Yangtze, the Mekong and the Salween Rivers flow parallel to each other through snowy peaks that measure almost 20,000 feet high in parts. The quiet valleys within this rugged landscape are rich in biodiversity and are home to several ethnic groups. On this 8-day journey, you'll travel a circuit around the region, visiting remote mountain villages, navigating through the region’s tallest mountains, exploring thick forest and discovering the beauty of this UNESCO-listed zone.
You'll begin your journey in Lijiang, where a guide will meet you and drive you to Tacheng, four hours away, at more than 6,600 feet elevation. You'll be taken to your hotel, where you can acclimatize to the altitude and prepare for your upcoming trip. In Tacheng, you’ll stay at the Songtsam Tacheng, housed in a beautifully-designed Tibetan house, offering spacious rooms, traditional wood furnishings and panoramic valley views. Your afternoon is free to explore the gardens and fields surrounding the hotel.
This morning, you will visit Yunnan Golden Monkey National Park, hiking an hour or two into the forest to try and catch a glimpse of the endangered golden snub-nosed monkey. The park provides excellent opportunities for avid photographers, especially those who manage to sight some of these photogenic creatures. Enjoy a picnic lunch in the park, then pay a visit to a local family, who will offer you samples of homemade honey created from the nectar of wild flowers. Return to Songtsam Tacheng tonight.
Drive to Benzilan today, at an altitude of 6,200 feet. You'll be taken directly to the Songtsam Benzilan, where you can freshen up before visiting some more of the area’s scenic mountain villages. Enjoy the cool climate and brisk air with a forest walk, and in the evening, visit the village prayer pavilion where elders come most evenings to pray. Settle into Songtsam Benzilan tonight, nestled in barley and wheat crops by the Yangtze River.
Make your way to Meili today after breakfast, where en route you'll visit Dongzhulin Monastery, positioned atop a cliff, offering majestic valley views. Dongzhulin Monastery is the second-largest monastery in the region, home to more than 500 Yellow Hat monks. On the way to Meili – at 11,800 feet - you'll traverse Baima ("Horse") Snow Mountain, named for the snow-covered peaks that, from a distance, look like galloping horses. Check into the Songtsam Meili this afternoon, where you can enjoy unforgettable views of the Meili Mountains from your room. Take a walk around the village in the evening if you would like.
Rise early today to witness sunrise at Kawagebo, the highest peak in Yunnan at more than 22,000 feet. You can hike around the mountain today, following trails that take from three to eight hours – which direction you take is entirely up to you. For lunch, enjoy a gourmet picnic with a view. In the evening, return to the Songtsam Meili for a hot shower and a comfortable bed.
Today you'll make your way to Shangri-La, where you'll visit the village of Nixi, famous for its black pottery. Take part in a handicraft workshop lacquer-painting bowls, then check into the Songtsam Shangri-La, beautifully-decorated in traditional Tibetan style. The spacious rooms of the Songtsam are luxurious and equipped with all modcons, while immersing guests in a traditional Tibetan ambiance. The Banyan Tree Ringha is another excellent option.
Today you'll get to explore the surrounding hills and valleys on horseback – the time-honored method of traversing this stunning terrain. You'll also have the opportunity to see the small village of Xiaozhong Tian, including the vividly-decorated Wenfeng Monastery and the village's authentic Tibetan farmhouses. In the afternoon, explore the Old Town of Shangri-La, enjoying a traditional Tibetan farewell dinner.