Plant Hunting in Sichuan_ Southwest China by xumiaomaio


									                 Plant Hunting in Sichuan,
                 Southwest China
SichuanAlpine Tour Dossier
Date: May – August
Grading: Moderate
Focus: Botany, through all aspects of natural history and the rich local culture will not be ignored.

Outline Itinerary
Day 1               Arrive Chengdu                         Day 9            Munigou

Day 2               Chuanzhusi                             Day 10-12        Wolong

Day 3-5             Huanglong                              Day 13-16        Rilong

Day 6               Jiuzhaigou                             Day 17-18        Baoxing

Day 7               Baxi                                   Day 19           Chengdu

Day 8               Songpan                                Day 20           Depart Chengdu

                         T: +86-28-6610-2589             F: +86-28-6610-2576
                        E:           W:
   #1701, Building B, World Trade Center, #117 Gulou Nan Street, Chengdu, Sichuan, P.R.China, 610015

Please note that the itinerary below offers our planned program of excursions. However, adverse weather &
other local considerations can necessitate some re-ordering of the program during the course of the tour,
though this will always be done to maximize best use of the time and weather conditions available.


This is an adventurous 21 day holiday to a botanist's paradise, the mountains and valleys of Western Sichuan
in the footsteps of pioneering plant-hunters of the 19th and early 20th centuries, in particular Henry Ernest

Until the middle of the last century, Western Sichuan made up parts of Kham and Amdo, and Tibetan people
and culture form the background of this journey. The Tibetan plateau here reaches its eastern limits, and great
tributaries of the Yangtse cut deep forested valleys. The country therefore has a stupendous range of
environment from rolling grasslands of 3 to 4000m, to glaciated peaks 5-6000m in height, with Mt. Minya
Konka reaching over 7500m, and down to deep “subtropical” valleys as low as 1500m. In the northern part of
the journey we cross the watershed to the Yellow River starting its log journey to the Yellow Sea.

For millennia the region was frontier country, and usually beyond the pale, for the Chinese and barely known
to Europeans until intrepid explorers and missionaries started travelling here in the middle of the 19th Century.
The greatest of these were the amateur botanists Abbe David, Jean Marie Delavay and the Scot Augustine
Henry whose names live on the names of so many plants discovered here and other parts of east Asia. In their
footsteps came Ernest Wilson, initially on missions to collect Davidia involucrata and then Meconopsis
integrifolia., and going on to make a host of now well known plant introductions to Europe. In recent years the
area has been opened up for travel, but Europeans are still very thin on the ground.

This pioneering trip is an introduction to a botanical paradise and to some of the most spectacular country in
the world still barely travelled by Westerners.

 Flowers    Scenery     Trekking     Horse Riding

Day 1
Arrive Chengdu

Day 2

Transfer Chuanzhusi
Today we leave the sprawling metropolis of Chengdu and head west across the flat Red Basin towards the
mountains. The mountainous country starts very suddenly, drive along Minjiang Rriver. On the way we see the
Lilium regale. Spent night at Chuanzhusi.

Day 3

Cross Xueshan Liangzi to Huanglong
We head east over a winding 4000 m pass to Huanglong, meaning Yellow Dragon, an elusion to the snake like
appearance of the limestone pools that have become a focus for the Chinese tourists. The area is botanically
particularly rewarding and it is very fairly easy to stay away from the crowds. For the next three nights we stay
in the luxury of the Huanglong Hotel, a welcome luxury in our travels.

Day 4

Huanglong Valley
Today we experience China’s growing park system, and enter Huanglong Park which encloses the spectacular
limestone pools. There are always lots of people in the park but the great positive is that the woodlands remain
ungrazed allowing species to flourish that would otherwise be hard pressed, particularly orchids such as Phaius
delavayi and Cypripedium spp.

Day 5

Huanglong – Xuebaoding
We go back onto the 4000m pass that took us into Huanglong. The road runs over the flanks of the 5000m
Xuebaoding massif and gives us access to huge areas of alpine habitat. With fine weather there will be
spectacular views over the mountains around, but even if the weather is less favourable we should be able to
roam and come across lots of plant treasures, Meconopsis in profusion of course but if we’re lucky
Paraqualegias and Orchidacaea. In the evening we relax again at the Huanglong Hotel.

Day 6

Huanglong – Jiuzhaigou
Drive back from Huanglong via Gonggangling, have another chance to explore alpinev plant. You can watch
Meconopsis sinomaculata, and different kinds of Asters. Gonggangling is the origin of Minjing River which is
longest branch of Yangtz River. We stay overnight at Jiuzhaigou.

Day 7

Jiuzhaigou – Baxi
Today we head north to the village of Baxi. Along the way, both the approaches and summit ridge are rich with
alpine plants as well as having wonderful views of the surrounding sparsely populated country. Walking away
from the busy road we roam the slopes to find Fritillaria, Primula Meconopsis and even Pinguicula and much
else. After we climb the 4,000 m Lamaling Pass we then descend to rich forests, reaching the small village of
Baxi, still Tibetan but leading a more agricultural life style than their wild cousins on the plain. We will make a
camp outside the village.

Day 8

Baxi - Ruo’ergai – Songpan
Today we now enter the great grasslands of Eastern Tibet Plateau. Averaging 3500m the plains are home to
herds of yaks and horses and also great meadows full of interesting flora. We can make stops to find Fritillaria,

Lilium, Meconopsis and Pediularis, and watch the yaks wandering through Aster, Ajuga and the spectacular but
little cultivated Cremanthodium brunneopilosum. After eating lunch at Ruo'ergai we head south to Songpan.
This walled city has a population of Tibetans and Qiang people as well as Muslim Hui and has a range of shops
catering for the local population.

Day 9

Munigou Valley
After heading south a few miles further on we turn off the main road to and enter the little visited Munigou park
whose waterfalls and limestone pools rival Huanglong and Jiuzhaigou. At around 3000m the woodland around
the spectacular waterfalls and pools are rich in meadow, and woodland, while the villages around represent the
furthest east Tibetan people have settled. We walk the Erdao Lake sequence in Munigou Park. The delightful
multicoloured series of limestone lakes rival Huanglong but remain relatively peaceful. Beautiful stands of
Ligularia and Primula adorn the lakes each with a distinctive colour. We camp in the woodland in the park.

Day 10

Munigou Valley - Minjiang Gorge - Wolong
Leaving Munigou Vally we head down the Minjiang Gorge on our way to Wolong. Passing through the land of the
Qiang people with their distinctive villages of joined houses. As we pass through the gorge we will pass the
home of Lilium regale where Wilson found it a hundred years ago. Large populations of this famous plant grow
on rocky slopes and crags above the road. at the town of Yingxiuwan on the Min river we head up the steep
sided and densely forested gorge of the Pitiao river. We may spot populations of Lilium sargentiae guarding the
entrance to the valley. From the sweltering plains of Chengdu the cool climate of Wolong at 2000m is very
welcome, and we will make it our base for exploring the side valleys and mountain pass above. Wolong has
grown up recently as the centre for Giant Panda conservation and research. We should have time today to visit
the research station near the village to see the 60 Pandas that are kept there for breeding.

Day 11

Wolong Pitiao River side Valleys
The Pitiao River rushes past the village travelling through its steep sided valley, making its rapid descent from
its sources in the 5000m mountains above Wolong down to below 1000m where it enters the Min River. The
sides are covered in thick forest now thankfully conserved from loggers, which changes rapidly from
sub-tropical near the Min, to temperate, and then montane. Today we go into some of the side valleys to
explore the richness of the forest. Amongst several Rhododendrons there are Deutzias, Loniceras, and Rosa
with Clematis and Actinidia to add an extra layer. We will go up to above 3000m, but then come down again to
Wolong in the evening and so start the process of acclimatisation for some the of the altitudes we will
experience later on. Today we stay overnight at Wolong Town.

Day 12

Wolong – Balang Shan Pass
Above Wolong the road winds up 2500 m to the Balang Shan Pass. After leaving the tree line at about 3500 m
we can start exploring the alpine meadows full of spectacular plants. Here we will find our first Meconopsis
punicea the red flowered species growing with the yellow M integrifolia and at least two blue poppies. That is
only the start as there are Primula, Cyprepedium, Pedicularis the list goes on. We suggest to hiking from the

left side pass to the summit, it would take us one and half hours,see Saussurea medvsa. If the weather is fine
we will be rewarded with gorgeous views of the valleys an mountains, but if the cloud sets in the plant life will
keep us absorbed. A touch more acclimatised by now we go down to Wolong again for the night.

Day 13

Wolong – Balang Shan Pass - Rilong
Today we drive back up the Pitiao river and right up to Balang Shan Pass itself. This gives us a second chance
to explore the high pastoral flora, and take in the views of this far eastern section of the Himalaya. At
4600mBalang Shan is the first of many high passes we will cross. At the stony summit we will get tremendous
views of the mountainous region to the west. To all intents and purposes we are entering Tibet and the further
we travel Tibetan people and culture start taking over. We will share the pass probably with yaks. The grazing
is often a problem for people looking at the rich flora in this part of the world, but as long as it is not too intense
the animals do seem to leave a reasonable share for us. Here we have a chance to find the hardier alpines,
before coming down the western side. Then we drive to Rilong town, Which is situated at the foot of Mt.
Siguniang and stay overnight there.

Day 14

Rilong – Haizigou Valley – Laoniu Yuanzi
Today we spend 7 hours on horse to Laoniu Yuanzi, our campsite. On the way you may explore Habenaria
glaucifelia, Orchidaceae(Cypripedium flavum, Cypripedium tibeticum) as well as some other alpine floras. You
can also see Mt. Siguniang. The mountain consists of 4 peaks, altitudes of which are all above 5000m from sea
level. And the altitude of the highest is 6225 m, which is regarded as the Queen of Sichuan Mountains. Because
of its beautiful landscaped in this area, Mt. Siguniang is also reputed as Oriental Alps as well as the sister of Fuji
Mountian. Mt. Siguniang is also one of the major destinations of Japanese tourists in Sichuan Province.

Day 15

Laoniu Yuanzi – Dahaizi Lake – Huahaizi Lake
Today we head to Dahaizi Lake and Huahaizi Lake. The two lakes are typical alpine lakes. There live alpine
naked carps in the lakes. Here you can see flocks of yaks and horses drinking water by the lakes. You may also
visit Tibetan people’s hut by the lake and chat with them. Afternoon we return to Laoniu Yuanzi and spend
another night at the Laoniu Yuanzi campsite.

Day 16

Laoniu Yuanzi – Rilong
Today we return to Rilong and it gives us another chance to explore the beautiful landscape at Mt. Siguniang.

Day 17

Rilong – Baoxing
Today drive to Baoxing, crossing Mt. Jiajin Shan. The most fascinating scenery here is the rhododendron sea
in May. Mt. Jiajinshan is as high as 4180 above sea level and it is also located in the territory of Fengtongzhai
Panda Nature Reseve. If you are lucky enough you may see wild giant panda chasing each other in the bamboo

sea. We take a road heading south and losing altitude rapidly enter the forested valley of the Qingyijiang River
whose vegetation we can explore, before reaching the small town of Baoxing. Lying at 2000m it was here that
Abe David first found and described Davidia involucrata the Handkerchief Tree. We spend the night in the small
town here.

Day 18

Baoxing – Dengchigou Valley
After breakfast, drive to Dengchigou Valley, there you can watch Cypripedium flavum and visit the site where
the fist giant panda was found by David, a French missionary and a Catholic Church is just situated at this
off-the-beaten path.

Day 19
Baoxing – Chengdu
Today we drive back to Chengdu City and experience the carefree and leisurely life in this China’s party City,
washing away the tiredness on the journey. We spend the night at Chengdu

Day 20
Departure from Chengdu


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