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Winter Birding In Yunnan

The Overview of this trip will tell you the following information:

I.  Trip Briefing
II. Trip Essentials (Price, Guide, Group Size, Difficulty Level, Dates and Length, etc.)
III.  Trip Map
IV.  Trip Itinerary
V.  Inclusions and Exclusions

I.Trip Briefing

This trip start from Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province, going all the way to the southwest area bordering Myanmar in search of bird species living or wintering in different habitats. In order to maximize our chances of seeinig as many endemic birds as possible, we include a trip to the northeastern part of Yunnan to look for some alpine birds or special migrants in famous Nashi Lake such as the black-necked cranes.

Located in the southwestern China, Yunnan Province has recorded nearly 1000 bird species including 39 endemic species, ranking first in China in terms of total bird species. Boasting of many different landforms including mountains, lakes, plateaus, wetlands and plains, Yunnan province has different habitats and climate conditions for different bird species which contributes to a great extent in making Yunnan Birding Tours extraordinary. The western part of Hengduan Mountains, which is called Gaoligong Mountain by local people, stands in the northwest and is home to more than 400 bird species.Yunnan is not only the one of the most important destination for winter migrants in China but also has most nuthatches only short of Chinese nuthatch.

In this trip we will not only search for some endemics such as wedge-billed wren babbler, slender-billed wren babbler, Chinese thrush, Yunnan Nuthatch but also enjoy the rich ethnic culture along the way  such as the Yi in Chuxiong, Bai Nationalities in Dali and a varieties of other minorities

II.  Trip Essentials

• Trip Duration: 15 days from Dec 25 2017 to Jan 8 2018

• Tour Leader: AlpineBird Bird Guide and An AlpineBirding Assistant Guide

• Difficulty: Easy mostly moderate.

• Number of bird species expected to see: 250~300

• Trip Cost: USD4100

• Single Supplement: USD500

• Deposit: USD300

• Trip Size: 2~8 birders

• Space: Open for booking

III.  Trip Map


IV.  Trip Itinerary

Day 1. (Dec 25) Arrival at Kunming Airport, city birding.

Overnight: Kunming    Meals: D

Day 2. (Dec 26)City birding in Kunming in the morning, then drive to Chuxiong, birding in Zixishan Mountain.

Overnight: Zixishan    Meals: BLD

Day 3. (Dec 27) Morning birding in Zixishan Mountain and drive to Dali in the afternoon, birding around Erhai lake if time permits.

Overnight: Dali    Meals: BLD

Day 4. (Dec 28) Morning Birding in Cangshan Mountain of Dali, drive to Gaoligong mountain.

Overnight: Gaoligong    Meals: BLD

Day 5-6. (Dec 29-Dec 30) Birding in Gaoligong Mountain.

Overnight: Gaoligong    Meals: BLD

Day 7. (Dec 31) We spend most of the day birding in Gaoligong Park in the morning, then drive to Tengchong in the afternoon.

Overnight:Tengchong    Meals: BLD

Day 8. (Jan 1) Birding in Laifengshan Mountain and drive to Nabang.

Overnight:Nabang Meals: BLD

Day 9-11. (Jan 2-4)  Birding around Nabang.

Overnight: Nabang    Meals: BLD

Day 12. (Jan 5) Drive to Ruili and birding on the way.

Overnight:Ruili    Meals: BLD

Day 13-14.  (Jan 6-7) Birding in Ruili, Nanjingli and Moli Tropical Forest.

Overnight: Ruili    Meals:BLD

Day 15 (Jan 9)Back to Kunming by flight, and depart from Kunming and end the trip.

Overnight: /      Meals:B

V.  Inclusions and Exclusions

The cost includes the following.

1. Transportation throughout the trip, including airport pickups and drops at different airports and flight tickets from Mangshi to Kunming.
2. Meals in local popular restaurants labeled as BLD in the itinerary which make birding tours in Yunnan irresistible.
3. All the Entrance Tickets for places listed in the itinerary including cable cars and shuttle buses.
4.Hotel stays from first day to the last day, nice 4-star hotels in big cities and local best in local places .
5.Bottled water,seasonal fruits and snacks throughout the trip.
6. Western Breakfast whenever is possible .
7. Service charges including an professional English-speaking birding guide.
8. China domestic travel insurance.
9. All tips to the serving staff , guide, driver and hotel bellmen.


The cost does not include the following.
a. Any expense of personal nature such as laundry.
b. Extra charges due to change of itinerary from client side or from factors beyond the control of AlpineBirding.
c. The flight tickets to the place where our trip start and from the place where our trip ends .
d. Expenses for visa application.

AlpineBirding will spare no efforts to ensure that our clients fully enjoy the trip.Generally the actual trip happens will be largely same as the itinerary here. AlpineBirding team will keep improving the itinerary based on the latest information we have got and we reserve the right to make minor changes to the itinerary including changing the sequence of the places we are going to visit, skipping a certain place in the itinerary or adding new place  to increase opportunity  so as to maximize the chances.


Day 1 (Dec 25) Arrival at Kunming Airport, city birding.

Overnight: Kunming    Meals: D

Located in the southwestern China, Yunnan Province has recorded over 1000 bird species including 39 endemic species, ranking first in China in terms of total bird species. Boasting of many different landforms including mountains, lakes, plateaus, wetlands and plains, Yunnan province has different habitats and climate conditions for different bird species. The special location, favorable climate conditions and diverse habitat have made this province an important wintering site for migrant birds including Black-necked Cranes.Our trip start in the capital of Yunnan Province.

Giant Nuthatch

Day 2 (Dec 26)City birding in Kunming in the morning, then drive to Chuxiong, birding in Zixishan Mountain. 

Overnight: Zixishan    Meals: BLD

In the morning, we walk into the Botanical Garden of Kunming, the largest subtropical botanical garden built in 1938, the diverse plants in the garden provide good habitats for different wintering and resident birds. We start our search for birds such as Fire-tailed Minla, Black-breasted Thrush, Blue Whistling Thrush, Black-headed Green Finch and Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler. After the whole morning birding in this big park, we drive on to Zixishan of Chuxiong.

Day 3 (Dec 27) Whole morning birding in Zixishan Mountain,then drive to Dali in the afternoon.

Overnight: Dali  Meals: BLD

Covering about 16000 hectares in land size, Zixishan Nature Reserve is dominated by ever green forest and Yunnan pine forest . About 61 birds species have been recorded in the reserve and 14 species of amphibians. The forest coverage in the reserve is as high as 91%. There are about 202 species of higher plants and about 107 animals species,including Mrs. Hume's Pheasant,Green Peafowl, Silver Pheasant, Giant Nuthatch and Yunnan Nuthatch. We will spend most of the day in the forest search for birds including sibias, nuthatchs, wabblers, and thrushes. We will drive on to Dali in the afternoon. Dali is most famous for the Huge Lake named Erhai and the grand mountain standing by the side of the lake. Ethnically this prefecture are dominated by Bai ethnic group. If time permits, we will go to Erhai to see some water bird including Purple Swamphen.

Day 4. (Dec 28) Morning birding in Cangshan Mountain of Dali, then drive on to Goligong.

Overnight: Goligong    Meals: BLD

According to statistics, 300 bird species have been recorded in Cangshan Mountain. For birders to Yunnan, this place is very attractive as well due to rich bird resources. In the early morning, we drive along a paved mountain road up to the higher part of the mountain and start our morning search for the star bird here Lady Amherst's Pheasant. Then we slowly walk down the winding road to search for birds such as fulvettas, Chinese Thrush, Streak-breasted Scimitar Babbler and Crimpson-browed Finch. In the afternoon, we drive on to Gaoligong Mountain.

Blue-throated Barbet


Day 5-6 (Dec 29-Dec 30) Two days birding in Gaoligong Mountain.

Overnight:Gaoligong    Meals: BLD

Located in the western side of Yunnan Province, Gaoligong belongs to the south end of Hengduan Mountain Ranges, which has been listed by Conservation International as one of 26 hot spots for biodiversity due to abundance of bio-resources. The elevation of the reserve rise from 900 meters to 4000 meters above the sea level.Because of this 7 complete vegetation types have been formed in the reserve. So far about 347 bird species have been recorded in the reserve, accounting for 43.3% of the total in Yunnan province including 40 endangered bird species under national protection. We will spend two days in the core area of Gaoligong Nature Reserve. In the early morning we drive to the highest place we can and start our hike upward to the place were we will search for Broad-billed Warbler, Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler  Silver Pheasant,Red-tailed Laughingthrush and Wedge-billed Wren Babbler. Then we will search for Scarlet Finch, Spot-breated Parrotbills and Scarlet Minivet in lower places.


Day 7 (Dec 31) Drive to Tengchong, birding in Gaoligong National Park.

Overnight: Tengchong    Meal: BLD

After morning birding on the mountain foot near the village we stay, we drive on to Tengchong, en route we will stop in another important park of Gaoligong Mountain, 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.

Streaked Spiderhunter


Day 8 (Jan 1) Birding in Laifengshan Mountain and drive to Nabang.

Overnight:Nabang    Meals: BLD

In the morning, we drive to the largest park in the city Laifengshan Park to continue our birding. We will look for birds like Black-breasted Thrush, Mountain Bamboo Partridge,  Brown-winged Parrotbill, and Slender-billed Oriole. After easy birding in the park, we head on to Nabang, a small border town between Burma and China.

Day 9-11 (Jan 2-4)  Birding around Nabang.

Overnight: Nabang    Meals: BLD

We will spend the follwing three days searching for low elevation birds around Nabang.In the early morning, we drive to Tongbiguan in search of Grey Peacock Pheasant and Spot-bellied Eagle-Owl. On the way to King of Old Banyan tree, we will  search for small forest birds while along the river which serve as the border between China and Mymar we will look for Black-tailed Crake, Grey-headed Parakeet, Blue-bearded Bee-eater and River Lapwing.In the forest, along a deserted road, we will search for hornbills,including Great,Oriental Pied and Wreathed Hornbills, White-hooded Babbler, Golden-crested and Collared Mynas, and Vinous-breasted Starling, Sapphire and Hill Blue Flycatchers.

Day 12 (Jan 5) Morning birding in Nabang, then drive to Ruili.

Overnight:Ruili    Meals: BLD

Morning birding in Nabang, then we drive on to Ruili, our last birding destination in this trip.


Day 13-14 (Jan 6-7) Birding in Ruili.

Overnight Ruili    Meals:BLD

We will focus our final birding time in this trip in Ruili on two places, one is Nanjingli and Moli Tropical Forest where we will search for Black-throated Laughingthrush, Rufous-necked Laughingthrush, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, Silver-eared Leiothrix, Jerdon’s Baza, Pin-tailed Green Pigeon, Brown Wood Owl, Stripe-breasted Woodpecker, Black-throated and Rufous-necked Laughingthrushes, Scarlet-faced Liocichla, and both Pale-billed and White-breasted Parrotbills.

Day 15 (Jan 8) Back to Kunming by flight. AlpineBirding service ends.

Overnight: /   Meals:B

Himalayan Blue Tail


Following are some of the feedbacks we have got from our clients we had served.

‘Hi, Philip

I have been busy answering e-mails and writing text for our newsletter and other things since getting back as lots of things needed doing - but things already calming down again.

Thank you for your kind words and can I also say it was a complete pleasure working with you too, the words I said on our final evening were all completely from the heart and I can honestly say that the combination of you and Parus made for an excellent experience from the wildlife and cultural perspective.  The guests were all telling me how much they enjoyed the holiday and how much your input made the holiday for them.  To have someone who could explain and point out aspects of Chinese culture as diverse as architecture, food, religion, day to day life and more was just fantastic.   I would say with hand on heart that this was one of the best trips I have led and for that I have you to thank.

I am also very aware that you had a huge amount to think about during the trip – timing the travel days to arrive at a sensible time while still giving us time to enjoy a few stops along the way is not always easy and you did it very well indeed.  Organising our evening meals and breakfasts in the field and so much more is all time consuming and needs thinking through and again you did a fabulous job. In fact the trip simply worked very well indeed and I feel very privileged to have worked with you and visited your wonderful country.  I think the itinerary we chose was superb and clearly both the Terracotta Warriors at the start and pandas at the wend were both extremely popular.’


 ——Roy Atkins, a professional Bird Guide  from UK in Custom Birding Trip in Sichuan in 2015

'Dear Philip, lily and Jiawei,

We are all noww safely back home and Ihave had time to produce my trip reoprt for the wonderful bird tour that you arranged for us. I attach the docuemtns here for your interest - you may use them and adapt them any way you wish if you need to.

 It was a great experience seeing China - the birds, travel, culture, sceerny with you. You did an absoluteyl first rate job in all respects - some of the best service and professional arrqngements and leading of a tour in my 40+ years of experience worldwide to 100 countries and over 300 tours organised and led.

 Thank you all - I will certainly promote your services to my friends and colleagues and hope your business prospers as it deserves. If I can be of any help do let me know.

 Very Best Wishes ' 
 ——Peter Robert and Pia, Peter Rober, a professional bird guide from UK, in Custom Trip in 2013



'Hi Philip
Thanks also for this trip, you were very friendly and professional.

I’ll go to Brasil next week for birdwatching and mammals.'

 ——Michel Watelet,Private Birding Trip in 2013


'Dear Philip,
Despite the hassles, it has been a very joyful journey! We have had countless happy moments and excellent views of birds many rare birds. Thanks for the excellent arrangements. Looking forward to have chance to bird with you and your colleagues again.
Yes we indeed need to produce appropriate documents in order to claim insurance. To simplify matters, we will draft a sample letter to you, so that you can reprodue several copies of it, one for each member of the group, with the individual's name and identity appear in the letter. The draft letter should be ready within the next few days. Thanks.

 ——KC Lee from Hong Kong, Custom Winter Birding in Tibet in 2014 and 2015.



'Dear Philip and Jiawei

Thank you very much for your email and hope that you got back safely to Chengdu yesterday. We got back home a couple of days ago, but work is already busy! I hope that you had a good time surveying future opportunities near Chongqing.
We had a really great time with the three of you, and talking on the way home we rated the day hike at Zhuque (along with the Great Wall) as our best day in China. The birding was better than expected there, especially with Jiawei working extremely hard to lure species out with calls - his (and your) knowledge was fantastic and I owe you for about 10-20 species that I would not have found myself. The scenery was excellent, and also the food - this was the lasting memory of the trip we had with you. We also learnt so much about China and its culture, and are indebted to you for this. I think my bird highlights were the Rosefinches and Crested Ibis. I've yet to start editing my photographs.

One thing is for sure though, that I will be back in China for a real birdwatching holiday at some stage in the future. Especially with those direct flights to Chengdu.
Many thanks once again for all of your hard work.'

——Richard and Carol who went birding with AlpineBirding in August of 2013

Hi Philip,            
How are you? This is to tell you we had a great tour to Sichuan, everything was well organized and special thanks to Jay who did a great job!’

——Laurens Steijn, Birding with  AlpineBirding in June of 2014

Dear Phillip He,

We are a Thai couple (sat behind a driver of a big car) who have joined a Thai birding trip to Sichuan during 29-April-9 May 2012.We would like to thank you again for your excellence friendship and guiding us to the new species of birds on the highland of Sichuan.

After we came back to Thailand, we both and all of our friends just said that we all were truly had a great time in China and this was one of our best birding trips so far. Hope that we could have a chance to return back to Sichuan or other areas of the great China again (of course to be travelling and birding with you).

Please keep on contacting us and just let us know if you have a plan for visiting Thailand in the future.

Best wishes,
Chairatna & Weranut Nilnond


——2012 Birding in Western Sichuan

1. How about your bird guides, are they professional enough?

All our bird guides are carefully chosen and have rich experiences of guiding westerners. Most of them are full time bird guide of AlpineBirding. Their specieties  in colleague are always involved with ecology, they have strong interests in birds and have guided lots of birding trips for AlpineBirding. They know the birds, birding sites and culture aspects of the places you are going to visit very well. To be honest, because English is not official language in China, our guide may not speak fluent English as the bird guide from western countries, their knowledge on birds and cultural aspects of places you are going to visit is excellent.

2. Is winter a good season for birding? Most birding trips happen in mating season. How difficult is this trip?

Yunnan is an important wintering site for lots of migrant birds including Black-necked Crane, Tibetan Siskin, and ducks. Also Yunnan has lots of resident birds. Though in winter, birds are not so reponsive to the calls. There are still lots of oppotunities you can get very decent view of birds. So Yunnan is an idea place for winter birding. The difficulty of this trip can be labled from easy to moderate. Most of times,we will search for birds on the roadside or the forest near the main road.

3. How about the food? Is there aways western food avaible?

Because most of times, we need to drive to the field before day break so as to make good use of golden hours for birding in the moring, so breakfast is always easy and in the field. We will bring some snacks, coffee, hot water, cakes and fruits. So very few times, we will have breakfast in our hotel. For the lunch, it is similar, we always have picnic lunch in the field to save time. Yunnan food is similar to the food in Sichuan.

4. Can AlpineBirding help me to get Chinese Visa?

Yes, we can provide necessary documents needed for your visa application. Once you confirm to participate our trip, our staff will help you with this.

5. Do I need vaccination for this trip? Do I need bring medicines?

Generally Yunan is very safe destination, but it is located in the subtropical area bording several other Asian countries. Concerning vacination, you can consult your personal doctor for suggestions. Also we suggest you bring your own medicine. Though we have lots of phamacies in China, all the medicines are explained in Chinese. So the best way is to consult your doctor and bring some medicines in case of needs.

6. What kind of birding gears do I need to bring?

We will bring a swarovski spotting scope and A Field Guide to the Bird of China, you need to bring your own binoculars. We will also print a checklist for each of our trip participants. Unless we specify in our itinerary, we do not camp in our trips but in some trips, we have to stay in local family guest house which is quiet basic, if you want to bring your own sleeping bags, you can bring.

7. What does AlpineBirding trips include and exclude?

Please read the inclusions and exclusions given in the same page where you find the trip cost.

8. How do you compared your trips with birding trips provided by other world famous birding companies?

The world only becomes so colorful just because of the existence of so many different things. We hold great respects toward all the other companies in the world, but we want to show our specialties accumulated from many years of running trips. As a local company, we have our own advantages about local birds and local culture. We want to build up our own team of professionals. The growth of our professional team will not only bring direct benefits to our customers in a way that they can travel in cheaper price at the same trip quality but also will exert positive impacts on locals in terms of protecting environments, appreciating local birds and knowing better of local resources. We care about your enjoyment of the trip and we will do everything we can to ensure your full enjoyment of your trip and realize the best value of each penny you have paid to us.

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