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Transfer from the Dong Fang Hotel in Beijing (booked independent to this tailor-made) to the airport for your flight to Chongqing. Before boarding the cruise we can stroll along Chongqing’s People’s Square, in the city centre.
The first gorge we pass, Qutangxia Gorge is the shortest and narrowest yet the most impressive. Here, the dramatic 1200m limestone peaks are often shrouded in mist and the river shoots through the narrow entrance with great haste. Next comes Wuxia Gorge, which straddles Sichuan and Hubei Provinces. Lined by twelve sheer peaks, Wuxia offers an spectacular vista for some 45km. Finally is Xiling Gorge, the longest at 75km and which comprises seven smaller gorges. During our cruise, we’ll also sail through the new ship locks of the impressive Three Gorges Dam construction. Whilst cruising, shore excursions are offered at no additional expense.
We disembark from our cruise in Yichang and transfer to the train station for your high speed train to Wuhan where you will be picked up and transferred to the airport for your flight to Guilin. Onward transfer to your hotel.
A 90 minute drive leads us to Longsheng, to walk the rice terraces of the Dragon’s Backbone. Beginning at the base of Mt Longji the verdant green rice fields coil up the steep mountain, layer upon layer, climbing to its summit. Taking a walk along the stone paths no more than a metre wide, we’ll pass many of the Yao and Red Yao minority women, baskets on their backs, who are also climbing skyward. Reaching the ‘Seven Stars accompanying Moon’ lookout, soak up the spectacular views. The full panorama offers thousands of ribbon like terraces cascading to the meandering streams and valley floor beneath.
Today, we take a 2 hour rafting cruise along the calm clean waters of Yu Long River. As our captain punts (propels us forward by pushing against the river bed with a long pole) our flat bottom boat along the shallow waters endless photo opportunities arise. The remainder of our time in Yangshuo is spent at leisure.
Returning to Guilin, we fly to Kunming. Enjoy an arrival transfer to our hotel. The capital of Yunnan Province, Kunming rests at 2000m above sea level! Its gentle weather and floral wealth have earned it the nickname ‘City of Eternal Spring’.
Excursion to Stone Forest. Celebrated as a natural wonder, it’s Yunnan’s most visited sight. As you stroll along the winding paths and lookout points, you’ll be in awe of the bizaare, tightly packed formations of almost ‘petrified’ stone that forms this unusual attraction 120 km from Kunming. Tonight catch the overnight (hard) sleeper train to Dali.
Picturesquely situated on Lake Erhai with a backdrop formed by the peaks of the 50km long Cang Shang range, Dali is a great place for some gentle-paced exploration and a little relaxation. Covering only about 4 sq km, much of Dali is contained by the remains of its Mingdynasty walls. Sightseeing in Dali and surrounds includes a cruise on Lake Erhai, some orientation stops at some ancient temples and villages, a visit to Butterfly Spring - a popular spot surrounded by a marble ballustrade and overhung by an ancient tree that produces butterfly-like flowers and the famous Three Pagodas. Built when the region was a major Buddhist centre, Dali’s distinctively tall pagodas remain upright, despite wars and earthquakes.
Leaving Dali, you’ll travel north to UNESCO-listed Lijiang - a Naxi stronghold, enjoy free time in the labyrinthine streets of Dayan Old Town. Evening Naxi music show.
We head to the thrillingly named Tiger leaping gorge on the Yangtze River, where there is time to walk and take in the scenery. Some 16km long and up to 3000m deep, it is the world's deepest canyon. The gorge is so narrow at various points that legend has it a tiger once escaped pursuit by leaping across. Visiting the gorge, you’ll have a chance to walk a section and take in the dramatic, yet stark scenery.
Enjoy an excursion to the stunning Jade Dragon Snow Mountain; its landscape includes one of the southernmost glaciers in the world. Access to the mountain is provided by a cable lift to Dragon Spruce Meadow, halfway to the glacier peak. Visit also Yufeng Si Monastery. This evening we take the overnight soft sleeper train to Kunming.
Enjoy a transfer from the train station to your hotel. You’ll visit the picturesque Western Hills and the Dragon Gate Grotto. Spend the remainder of the day at leisure, maybe buy some last minute souvenirs and gifts.
Hotel check-out and included onward transfer to airport for your flight to Xi’an. Later we tour local villages and farms in the Xi'an area to see how local's live their daily lives.
Today, we transfer you to the train station for your 34 hour train to Lhasa departing at 10:17am.
Upon arrival to Lhasa train station at 20:15 you will be met and driven (aprox 1.5 hours) to the fabled city of Lhasa. Once you reach Lhasa the remainder of the day is free for you to relax and acclimatise at ‘the roof of the world’.
We begin our exploration of this mystical city first heading to Lhasa’s most enduring image, the Potala Palace. The winter home of the Dalai Lamas and a masterpiece in design, 13 stories high, containing thousands of rooms, this is the heart of Tibet, its (exiled) government and people. The Dalai Lama’s Summer palace, Norbulingka, is our next place of pilgrimage. Less daunting and surrounded by gardens, this homely palace reflects the Dalai Lama’s more earthly pleasures and it was from here the present Lama fled in the 1950’s. However, it is the Jokhang Temple which will be the most enlightening stop of the day.
We take the short journey to the 15th century Drepung Monastery. Formerly one of the central monasteries of Tibet it was torn asunder during the Cultural Revolution and continues to rebuild is walls and status today. Just north of Lhasa is the Sera Monastery, still a working retreat 600 years after its foundation as a main teaching monastery and one of the three great Gelukpa ‘Universities’ once housing more than 5500 monks. You will see young novices learning scriptures in the Debating Garden and being rewarded for a correct answer with a resounding hand-clap from their master. Returning to Lhasa we will experience the Barkhor markets which surround the Jokhang temple and sell all things Tibetan.
An early morning start as we drive out toward the Himalayas. From Lhasa, itself at 3500m, we travel over the Kamba-La pass and reach 4794m above sea level. From the top of the pass we can look down on the deep azure waters of Yamdrok Lake, cradled by snow capped mountains before dropping down to the shores itself. One of Tibet’s 3 holy lakes, nomadic tents, pilgrims prostrating and children hunting with sling shots on the stony beaches make this something you are likely to have never experienced before. Rising back into these vivid and rugged mountains we head back to Lhasa, looking for hoards of Yak along the way.
Day at leisure in Lhasa.
Hotel check out and included onward transfer to airport.
About 100km northwest of Lijiang in Yunnan province is where the Yangtze River’s upper reaches, the Jingsha Jiang, channel with ...