Day 1: Arrival in Kunming, China.
Our trip starts in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province. Upon arrival at Kunming Changshui International Airport, you will be met by your AlpineBirding guide or driver and get transferred to the hotel. For early arrivals, we will visit a city park nearby for an easy birding if you prefer to explore instead of taking a rest in the hotel. At the welcome dinner, you will get to know the rest of the crew and have the first chance to savor Yunnan dishes together.
Day 2: Kunming to Zixi Mountain Forest Park via Kunming Botanical Garden.
We will spend the morning exploring the famous Kunming Botanical Garden, the diverse plants inside the gigantic garden provide good habitats for different wintering and resident birds including Red-tailed Minla, Blue-winged Minla, Red-billed Leiothrix, Japanese White-eye, Black-breasted Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Black-headed Greenfinch, Crested Finchbill, Brown-breasted Bulbul, Long-tailed Shrike, and Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler. After the exploration, we will drive on to the Zixi Mountain Forest Park in Chuxiong. Upon arrival at our lovely guesthouse inside the park, we will start our birding around the guesthouse.
Day 3: Zixi Mountain Forest Park to Dali.
Covering about 16,000 hectares in land size, Zixi Mountain is the largest natural park of Yunnan Province, the forest coverage is as high as 91%. The park is dominated by evergreen forests and Yunnan pine forests which provide an ideal habitat for many nuthatches, as well as some specials of southwestern China. Over 150 bird species have been recorded here, the most attractive targets here are the endemic Yunnan Nuthatch and the rare Giant Nuthatch. Other species we will have a good chance of seeing including the stunning Mrs. Hume's Pheasant and Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, as well as Speckled Piculet, Gray-capped Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Minivet, Gray-chinned Minivet, Blyth's Shrike Babbler, White-throated Fantail, Yellow-bellied Fairy Fantail, Ashy-throated Warbler, Buff-barred Warbler, Black-faced Warbler, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler, Chinese Thrush, Himalayan Bluetail, Sooty-headed Bulbul, Mountain Bulbul, Ashy Drongo, Spectacled Fulvetta, Yunnan Fulvetta. Sometimes, the shy Mountain Tailorbird can be spotted in the lush mixed broadleaf-conifer forest.
We will drive on to Dali in the afternoon. Dali is most famous for the huge lake named Erhai and the grand Cangshan Mountain standing by the western side of the lake. If time permits, we will go to Erhai to look for some waterfowls like Purple Swamphen (Grey-headed Swamphen).
Day 4: Dali to Gaoligong Mountains via Cangshan Mountains.
For birders, Mt. Cangshan is very attractive for its rich forest bird species of low and middle elevations. According to statistics, over 200 bird species have been recorded here. In the early morning, we will drive along a paved mountain road up to the higher part of the mountain and start our morning search for the star bird Lady Amherst's Pheasant from there. Then we will slowly walk down the winding road to search for other specials including Spotted Nutcracker, Black-browed Tit, White-browed Fulvetta, Rusty-capped Fulvetta, Yunnan Fulvetta, Stripe-throated Yuhina, Rufous-capped Babbler, Elliot's Laughingthrush, Spotted Laughingthrush, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Chestnut-tailed Minla, Yellow-throated Bunting. With a good amount of work, we also have chances to see Rufous-tailed Babbler and Bar-winged Wren Babbler. In the afternoon, we will complete a 4.5-hour journey to the Gaoligong Mountains.
Day 5-6: Gaoligong Mountains (Baihualing area).
Located on the western side of Yunnan Province, the Gaoligong belongs to the south end of Hengduan Mountain Ranges, the elevation changes sharply from 650 meters at the bottom to 5,128 meters at the peak. As a result of its 7 complete vegetation types, Gaoligong Mountains have been rated as one of 36 hot spots for biodiversity by Conservation International. So far, around 525 bird species have been recorded here, accounting for 43.3% of the total in Yunnan Province, in which around 40 are endangered bird species under national protection.
Winter is the best birding season in Yunnan, as most birds move to lower altitude where is warmer and has more food available. Besides, birds tend to stay as flacks in winter which gives us more opportunities to see them.
We will spend two days here searching for birds in different habitats. Some species tend to feed on the ground such as Silver Pheasant, Mrs. Hume's Pheasant, Hill Partridge, Mountain Bamboo Partridge, Rufous-throated Partridge, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler, Red-tailed Laughingthrush, Chestnut-crowned Laughingthrush, Blue-winged Laughingthrush, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Grey-winged Blackbird, Long-tailed Thrush, Wedge-billed Wren Babbler, Grey-bellied Tesia, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Chestnut-headed Tesia, etc.
While during our exploration in the dense virgin forests, we will look for Himalayan Cutia, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Great Barbet, Golden-throated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Broad-billed Warbler, Bay Woodpecker, Greater Yellownape, Red-tailed Minla, Scarlet Finch, Grey-headed Parrotbill, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, Whiskered Yuhina, Rufous-vented Yuhina, Striated Bulbul, Flavescent Bulbul, Beautiful Sibia, Long-tailed Sibia, Large Niltava, Rufous-bellied Niltava, Golden Bush Robin, Snowy-browed Flycatcher, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Short-billed Minivet, Scarlet Minivet, Yellow-cheeked Tit, etc. In addition, we can also see some beautiful sunbirds including Fire-tailed Sunbird, Black-throated Sunbird, Mrs. Gould's Sunbird, Green-tailed Sunbird, etc.
There are a lot of "bird blinds" built in Gaoligong thanks to the fast development of bird watching and bird photography. For people who prefer to enjoy a good number of species in an easier way, those bird hides are the best places to achieve this goal.
Day 7: Gaoligong Mountains to Tengchong.
We will spend some time birding on the mountain foot area below the guesthouse we stay before we drive to Tengchong. Along the way. We can stop in another important park in the Gaoligong Mountains, the Gaoligong National Park. After spending a couple of hours birding in this park, we drive on to Tengchong which is famous for a mild climate, ancient volcanoes, and geothermal springs.
Day 8: Tengchong to Nabang via Laifengshan Mountain.
In the morning, we drive to Laifengshan Mountain, which is the largest park in the city to continue our birding. We will look for birds like Silver Pheasant, Black-breasted Thrush, Brown-winged Parrotbill, and Slender-billed Oriole, Maroon Oriole. After an easy birding in the park, we head on to Nabang, a small border town between Myanmar and China.
Day 9: Nabang and nearby area.
There are some very special restricted-range species inhabit in this small border town of Nabang, especially in the Nabang Wetlands and Xima Ancient Silk Road. We will spend the whole day searching for low-elevation birds in different habitats. While in Nabang Wetlands, we will focus on Indian Spot-billed Duck, Greater Coucal, Crested Treeswift, Asian Palm Swift, White-breasted Waterhen, River Lapwing, Grey-headed Lapwing, Red-wattled Lapwing, Chinese Pond Heron, Striated Heron, White-throated Kingfisher, Crested Kingfisher, Pied Kingfisher, Green Bee-eater, Ashy Woodswallow, Striated Grassbird, Wire-tailed Swallow, Asian Pied Starling, Chestnut-tailed Starling, Red-billed Starling, Vinous-breasted Starling, Collared Myna, Great Myna, Pied Bushchat, Scaly-breasted Munia, etc.
We will spend some time in the dense forest where the Xima Ancient Silk Road is hidden. We will walk to the famous gigantic banyan tree spot and look for some low-elevation specials including Wreathed Hornbill, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle, Crested Goshawk, Wedge-tailed Green Pigeon, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Mountain Imperial Pigeon, Green-billed Malkoha, Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Pale-billed Parrotbill, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, Lesser Yellownape, Greater Yellownape, Bay Woodpecker, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, White-browed Piculet, Long-tailed Broadbill, Bronzed Drongo, Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Collared Treepie, Ashy Bulbul, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Rufous-faced Warbler, Pin-striped Tit Babbler, White-hooded Babbler, Puff-throated Babbler, Lesser Necklaced Laughingthrush, White-crested Laughingthrush, Golden-fronted Leafbird, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Hill Blue Flycatcher, etc.
Day 10: Nabang to Yingjiang via Tongbiguan.
Before we head to Yingjiang. We will first drive to Tongbiguan for birding this morning. Tongbiguan is another important spot for forest birds in Nabang. Here, we can expect birds including Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Broadbill, Bar-winged Flycatcher-shrike, Burmese Shrike, Yellow-cheeked Tit, Golden Babbler, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, Grey-throated Babbler, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, White-gorgeted Flycatcher, Little Pied Flycatcher, Plain Flowerpecker, Fire-breasted Flowerpecker, etc.
Day 11-12: Yingjiang area.
Located at the end of the southwest, Yingjiang is a county that also borders with Myanmar. With opulent sunshine, flourishing virgin forests, and various habitats, over 680 kinds of birds have been recorded here, which count around 50% of birds of China. That's what makes YingJiang one of the unmissable birding destinations in China. During our two-day exploration, we will mainly focus on the Dayingjiang River and the Hornbill Valley. In the reed marshes and benchlands of Dayingjiang River, we will get to see some very special species. Among them, we may seek out several River Terns although it can be difficult as there are only around 10 terns visit this area every winter. Other species we hope to encounter including Indian Spot-billed Duck, Small Pratincole, River Lapwing, Little Ringed Plover, Temminck's Stint, Coppersmith Barbet, Alexandrine Parakeet, Red-breasted Parakeet, Blossom-headed Parakeet, Striated Grassbird, Rufescent Prinia, Grey-breasted Prinia, Grey-throated Martin, Asian Barred Owlet, Dusky Warbler, Collared Myna, Great Myna, Citrine Wagtail, Paddyfield Pipit, Little Bunting, etc.
We will spend at least a day in the Hornbill Valley, an up-and-coming birding site that is renowned for the best place to see hornbills in China, in addition to a big variety of pheasants, laughingthrushes, flycatchers. We will slowly explore the forest in search of birds including Great Hornbill, Oriental Pied-Hornbill, Wreathed Hornbill, Grey Peacock Pheasant, Red Junglefowl, Kalij Pheasant, White-cheeked Partridge, Green-billed Malkoha, Crested Serpent Eagle, Jerdon's Baza, Collared Scops Owl, Spot-bellied Eagle Owl, Brown Boobook, Red-headed Trogon, Blue-bearded Bee-eater, Blue-eared Barbet, Greater Flameback, Lesser Yellownape, Great Slaty Woodpecker, Collared Falconet, Oriental Hobby, Long-tailed Broadbill, Blue-naped Pitta, Black-hooded Oriole, Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Collared Treepie, Sultan Tit, Striated Swallow, Black-crested Bulbul, Grey-eyed Bulbul, Pin-striped Tit Babbler, Red-billed Scimitar Babbler, Coral-billed Scimitar Babbler, Large Scimitar Babbler, Spot-throated Babbler, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Streaked Wren Babbler, Nepal Fulvetta, Velvet-fronted Nuthatch, White-rumped Shama, White-tailed Flycatcher, Lesser Shortwing, Blue-winged Leafbird, etc. Here, the "bird hide" is also optional to increase our chances.
Day 13: Yingjiang to Ruili.
We will continue our exploration in Yingjiang this morning, then we drive on to Ruili, the last birding destination on this trip.
Day 14-15: Ruili area (Nanjingli & Moli Tropical Forest).
Ruili is one of these few places in China where has a relatively intact tropical rainforest system, thus, Ruili is renowned for being one of the best places to see tropical birds in China. We will focus our final birding time on two places, Nanjingli, and Moli Tropical Forest. In the lush bamboo bush and dense forest of Nanjingli, we will mainly look for Grey-headed Parrotbill, Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Pale-billed Parrotbill, Golden Babbler, Rufous-backed Sibia, White-browed Piculet, Long-tailed Broadbill, Black-eared Shrike Babbler, Mountain Tailorbird, Spot-winged Grosbeak, etc.
When birding in Moli Tropical Forest, we will focus on searching for Mountain Hawk Eagle, Streaked Wren Babbler, Dark-sided Thrush, Long-tailed Broadbill, Silver-breasted Broadbill, Red-headed Trogon, Coppersmith Barbet, Rosy Minivet, Large Woodshrike, Common Iora, Grey-bellied Tesia, Yellow-bellied Warbler, Rufous-headed Parrotbill, Pale-billed Parrotbill, Rufous-backed Sibia, Rufous-chinned Laughingthrush, Rusty-flanked Treecreeper, Little Forktail, White-crowned Forktail, Black-backed Forktail, Slaty-backed Forktail, Spotted Forktail, etc.
We will drive about 2 hours to Mangshi to stay the night in the afternoon of the 15th day.
Day 16: Departure from Mangshi.
After breakfast at our hotel, we drive to Mangshi Airport to catch the flight. Depart from Mangshi, AlpineBirding service ends.