Wild Yunnan and Shaanxi – charismatic apes, colorful birds and Chinese countryside

28th March – 11th April 2020

Optional extension tour: Tangjiahe Nature Reserve in Sichuan, with some of China’s natural gems, 10th-15th April 2020

Book this tour

Some of the tour highlights:

  • A unique tour, impossible to do single-handedly
  • Fantastic photo opportunities, with some of the gems among China’s birds and mammals
  • Good chances to see four unique apes, including the large Yunnan snub-nosed monkey, the charismatic Golden snub-nosed monkey and the recently discovered Skywalker gibbon
  • Well-used photo hides with many colorful birds
  • The Crested Ibis, previously thought to be extinct
  • Up to seven amazing, colorful Pheasant species
  • Three species of Hornbill
  • Lowland and montane rainforest
  • Tibetan nature and culture around Shangri-La, at 3000 m asl, including the Tibetan monastery of Songtsam
  • Chengdu, the ancient and modern capital of the Sichuan province
  • Wonderful, tasty food
  • Giant Pandas in China’s best Panda enclosure
  • Staffan Widstrand will show you some of his favorite spots and will provide photographic advice to a small group who share the same interests

After the successful tour in 2018, the 2019 itinerary is now set. It includes some of south-western China’s best, but not so well-known, natural areas in the provinces of Yunnan and Shaanxi, with the opportunity of an amazing extension tour in Sichuan.

Excellent opportunities to photograph up to four species of apes, including the charismatic Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, the large Yunnan Snub-nosed Monkey and with a bit of luck the recently described Skywalker Gibbon and the pretty langur Phayre’s Leaf Monkey. Furthermore, there will be at least four, maybe even six or seven different species of Pheasant (Golden Pheasant, Silver Pheasant, Grey Peacock-pheasant, Kalij Pheasant, Junglefowl and maybe even Hume’s Pheasant and Lady Amherst’s Pheasant) as well as an impressive array of colorful and otherwise elusive woodland birds.

We begin in one of China’s most species-rich areas, in the rainforests at the Burmese border. There are over 500 species of bird here (including three species of Hornbill, the Grey Peackock-Pheasant and some other local specialities and endemics). We photograph from well-placed and well-tried hides, often with very close photo opportunities. Along the road, there is sometimes a chance of seeing Phayre’s Leaf Monkey and maybe also the meter-long Giant Squirrel. From there we head to a region with more montane rainforest, in search for the rare and recently described Skywalker Gibbon. We visit a Lisu village, where the Gibbons are considered sacred, and have had special protection for the last 100 years. With some luck we will hear and see them close by as they move among the treetops on their regular routes through the forest. Then we head for the Gaoligong Mountains, to subtropical rainforest, cultural land and more chances to see a new line-up of colorful birds up close, from strategically placed hides.

From here we head north through Yunnan, with a decent stop in the beautiful and pleasant city of Dali, and to the Tibetan areas around the city of Shangri-La. We have time to have a good look at the Songtsam monastery, and then head on to a spot where we can photograph the Black-necked Crane and get close to the large Yunnan snub-nosed monkey.

From there, we fly back to Chengdu, the Sichuan capital, in order to explore the finest Giant Panda park in the country. We then take the comfortable, new high-speed train to a couple of wildlife-rich nature reserves around Foping and Yangxian in the neighboring province of Shaanxi. The area provides good opportunities to see Crested Ibis (previously thought to be extinct, but now back in thousands), the lovely Golden snub-nosed monkey and the unbelievably handsome Golden Pheasant.

Good, tasty food and close encounters with colorful classic Chinese, Tibetan, Lisu, Sichuan and Naxi culture.

China connoisseur and photographer Staffan Widstrand will be the tour leader. Staffan is also the CEO of the big Wild Wonders of China initiative.

The tour is fifteen days, with an optional extension tour of six days. You will honestly not want to miss the extension tour, to the wildlife in one of the best deciduous woodland reserves, Tangjiahe in Sichuan. Some possible species are the large Golden Taki, Himalayan Black Bear, Tibetan Macaque, Himalayan Goral, several species of deer and birds, such as the Golden Pheasant and Temminck’s Tragopan.

You can never be certain about nature, weather and wild animals, but the chances of encountering and photographing most of the species mentioned here are quite big. However, things change quite quickly in China, which must be clear when traveling here. Closed areas can be opened and opened areas can be closed, with only a days’ notice. You need to be flexible, for the tour to be a success.

Local guides and Staffan have considerable experience of China, the local sites, wildlife and photography under the prevailing conditions. These parts of China often provide interesting, tasty food. Yunnan is one of the gastronomical centers of China and the world. No-one on the tour will go hungry. Accommodation will be in two-bed hotel rooms, medium standard or better, with WC and shower en suite. The exception will be for our first nights in the rainforest, where we will stay in recently created guesthouses, with simple accommodation. This will save us a few extra travel hours on the roads.

Staffan will hold several lectures and photo discussions, and will view participants images, providing constructive criticism. Throughout the tour, Staffan will provide participants with necessary photo-coaching.

Travel facts

28th March-11th April 2020

5 590 € (Euro)
(Registration fee 1 118 €)*

Extension tour 
Make your trip to China even more spectacular by also joining our extension tour to Tangjiahe Nature Reserve in Sichuan, with some of China’s natural gems.
Read more…

Tour leader
Staffan Widstrand

Number of participants
Min 10
Max 14

Last date to register
31st December 2019

Price includes
Share in double room with private shower in hotels of middle class standard most nights. Four nights in the beginning with more basic accommodation. Full board, photo workshops, local guides and Swedish tour guide. All domestic flights, transfers, land transport and entry fees from the meeting point at Chengdu Airport CTU, until we depart from Chengdu Airport, CTU.

Single room fee
7 500 €

Price does not include
Return flight to/from Chengdu. (NOTE: Contact us for information about airline tickets and visa booking), visa, tips, insurance, cancellation insurance, beverages and personal items.

The journey begins and ends at Chengdu airport, CTU.

Photo equipment
As we will have opportunities of many different types of subjects, ranging from landscape to mammals and birds, it is advisable to bring everything from a wide-angle lens and macro to a telephoto lens. A wide angle zoom lens with focal length 24-70mm is excellent not only for landscape photography but also for certain wildlife photography.
A telephoto zoom lens, eg 70-200mm or 80-400mm or 180-400mm or 200-500mm, provides very good conditions for taking varied images of birds and mammals.
Telephoto lenses with a fixed focal length, such as 500 mm, or 600 mm are very useful for bird and mammal photography. To “increase” the focal length, if you have a shorter telephoto lens or a zoom, you can use a tele converter or use a camera with a DX format sensor.
As it may sometimes rain, it is important to have good rain-protection for the camera equipment. The best thing is a rainproof camera protective cover. Also, consider having a good cover for the camera bag or backpack.
If you have access to two camera bodies, it’s a good idea to bring both.
A lightweight tripod is recommended, especially in the hides. There are also more images to capture than you might have expected, so please bring multiple memory cards and hard drives
An inflatable seat cushion can be good, as you are sitting on hard chairs or wooden chairs in some hides.

We expect temperatures from 28 degrees C in the rainforests, to maybe just 5 degrees C in Shangri-La. Solid field clothes are recommended. Thin, cool, long-legged trousers and long-sleeved shirts for the rainforest (shorts are not recommended due to possible sharp twigs, thorns and leeches). Jumper, jacket, gloves and hat for the northern areas. Rainwear is a must. In the rainforest a rain poncho is recommended, as well as a small umbrella. Light hiking boots are good. A telescopic hiking pole is extremely useful and strongly recommended. A cap or hat is absolutely necessary, and sunglasses against the strong sun. A thin Merino wool base layer makes life more pleasant, in case of cooler hotel rooms.

Group and language
Our tours are open to all nationalities, so the group may be international. Our tour leaders speak Swedish and English.

For entry in China, EU citizens need a tourist visa. Apply for a visa in good time! You will receive a necessary invitation from the Chinese travel agent to be submitted together with your passport to apply for a visa.
The visa application is preferably made through your local visa handling agent or the Chinese Embassy visa office.

*Terms of payment
Registration fee to be paid on registration. Remaining fees to be paid latest 60 days before the tour starts.

Additional information
Contact your insurance company about insurance, including cancellation insurance. Contact your doctor about vaccination requirements.

Terms and conditions


Subject to changes due to weather, traffic or authority decisions.

Travel day (26th or 27th March)

Flight from Scandinavia to Chengdu International Airport (CTU).

Day 1 (28th March) (Dinner)
We gather at Chengdu airport CTU in order to check-in for flight MU9748 (pre-booked and included in tour price) at 15.00. Then we travel on to Tengchong in Yunnan province, and by our own bus to Yinjiang city and a comfortable hotel.

Day 2 (29th March) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Early departure to hides in the rainforest in a large biosphere reserve by the Burmese border. Full day in the hides (there are about fifteen to choose from) with opportunities to see Junglefowl, Grey Peacock-Pheasant, Silver Pheasant, Kalij Pheasant, three species of Hornbill, Pied Falconet, Laughing-thrushes, giant woodpeckers, Forktails, Oriental Dwarf Kingfisher, a range of attractive rainforest birds and Black Giant Squirrels.
Accommodation in a local guesthouse, which is fine, but simple, and at least an hour closer to the hides.

Day 3 (30th March) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Full day in the hides.
Accommodation in our local guesthouse.

Day 4 (31st March)
 (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Full morning in the hides. After lunch we drive to the village of Zhurna, about 4-5 hours. Possible stop along the way in order to search for the adorable Phayre’s leaf monkey, if they are in the area that day (they have a regular weekly rout, and we will not know in advance wether they are close by or not). Near Zhurna is a Lisu village with a good chance of short observations of Skywalker gibbons, as they move through the foliage. Authorities have considered closing the area ”for the Gibbons sake”. If so, we will spend day 5 and 6 on more time in the hides we started the tour at, as they will still have more to offer. Accommodation at a simple hotel in Zhurna.

Day 5 (1st April)
 (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Early morning walk with local Lisu guides, with the chance to see Skywalker Gibbons. Most of the day will be spent in the montane rainforest. Accommodation in a simple guesthouse hotel in Zhurna.

Day 6 (2nd April) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Early morning walk in the forest with local Lisu guides, with the chance to see Skywalker Gibbons. Drive to Gaoligong Mountains, with more well-proven hides and som walking opportunities in the subtropical rainforest. Accommodation at a pleasant guesthouse.

Day 7 (3rd April) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Full day in the hides among the Gaoligong Mountains. We will try at least two different hides, each with its own species. Maybe Lady Amherst Pheasant, and/or Hume’s Pheasant? Accommodation as previous night.

Day 8 (4th April) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Morning at a different hide, followed by bus journey north to the legendary ancient Naxi city of Dalí. Explore the city on your own in the evening. Accommodation at hotel in Dalí.

Day 9 (5th April) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Morning at leisure in Dalí. Bus journey north for 5-6 hours, to a forest reserve with Yunnan snub-nosed monkeys. Accommodation in hotel bungalows in the reserve.

Day 10 (6th April) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Entire morning in the nature reserve, with good chances for Yunnan snub-nosed monkey up close in the lichen-clad montane forests. Journey by bus to the Tibetan city of Shangri-La, at 3200 m asl. Afternoon visit to the Buddhist monastery of Songtsam. Accommodation at hotel in Shangri-La.

Day 11 (7th April) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Early morning visit to Napa Lake for Black-necked Cranes and other water birds. Then flight to Chengdu in Shaanxi province. Accommodation in central Chengdu.

Day 12 (8th April) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Morning visit to Chengdu’s large renowned Panda Breeding Research Base, a lush bamboo park with China’s finest Panda enclosures. After lunch we take the high-speed train (about 3 hours) to the city of Yangxian in the province of Shaanxi.

Day 13 (9th April) (Breakfast – Lunch – Dinner)
Morning in the hides for Golden Pheasants and Crested Ibis. After lunch a bus journey to the singling mountains where we visit a good site for Golden snub-nosed monkeys. Accommodation at hotel in Foping.

Day 14 (10th April) (Breakfast)
In the morning we will have another go at the Golden snub-nosed monkeys before taking the high-speed train to Chengdu.
Those who have chosen the extension tour will leave in Qingchuan with the tour leader and go by bus to Tangjiahe. The rest will continue to Chengdu, where a local agent’s guide will meet up for transfer to a central hotel and a look at the city. Accommodation in Chengdu.

Day 15 (11th April) (Breakfast)
Transfer to airport and flight home from Chengdu, for those who will not participate on the extension tour.


Book the tour

Wild Yunnan and Shaanxi - charismatic apes, colorful birds and Chinese countryside 28th March-11th April 2020

NOTE! When you have made your booking you will immediately get a confirmation e-mail. If you don´t get the confirmation e-mail please check your spam e-mails or contact us by telephone, +46730 662 007.

Your name*


Zip code, city and country*

Telephone number*

Your e-mail address*

I also book the extension tour: Tangjiahe Nature Reserve in Sichuan, with some of China’s natural gems, 10th-15th April 2020*
Single room (Single room fee will apply)Double room
Wish to share room with

Food requirements

Additional information

Discount code

YesNo – I agree with that my contact information is shared to the other participants on the tour.
I confirm that I have read the booking terms and conditions and accept them fully for the person named on the booking form. Read terms and conditions
All correspondence will by via e-mail if nothing else is specified by customer.