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Photography Trip on Qinghai Tibetan Plateau in 2018


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 is specially designed for photographers who have strong interests in nature like birds, flowers, and Tibetan culture. In this trip you will enjoy a blend of highlights from viewing and photographing endemic birds, alpine flowers, authentic Tibetan culture and beautiful lakes in Jiuzhaigou.June and July are the best seasons for viewing alpine flowers in western China and also best season to see the summer breeders on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. After coming face to face with pandas in Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, we will drive on to Wolong Nature Reserve, where we will search for Golden Pheasant, Tibetan Snowcock, Snow Partridge, Chinese Monals and some rosefinches.We will spend three days in this area, enjoying the wonderful blooming alpine flowers and birds living in high elevations. Then we drive to Maerkang. In the mountain standing by the side of the city, we will search for Chestnut-throated Partridge, Sichuan Jay and some other forest birds.From here we drive to the world largest Buddhist School, Seda Wuming Buddhist School. We will spend whole in this area photographing the small isolated world formed by sincere Buddhists who come here to seek the pure land in their heart and upgrade their spiritural pursuit.If you have interests, you can visit the skyburial ground where you can gain an understanding about life and death and different belief between body and soul. From here we drive on to Qinghai Province,en route we can photograph the nomandic lives, herd of yaks, alpine birds and flowers. After that we will pay a visit to Nianbaoyuze, the highest peak of Animaqing Mountain ranges and the holy mountains for local Tibetans.In this special reserve, we search for rosefinches, ground tits, if we are lucky enough, we can enven search for famous Tibetan Bunting here. On the next day, we drive on to Hongyuan and Ruoergai Grasslands looking for raptors,Blue Eared Pheasant and wintering Black-necked Crane. Our last stop is Jiuzhaigou, where we will photograph birds, and gem-like water lakes, we can spend one day in Jiuzhaigou National Park, photographing lakes and some birds. Before we drive on toward Chengdu, we will spend another day to explore another park near Jiuzhaigou. It is called Shenxianci, here we will search for Blue Eared Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Chinese Grouse and photograph the beautiful calcified ponds.

II.  Trip Essentials 

• Trip Duration: 18 Days from June 20th to July 7
• Tour Leader: Philip He and An AlpineBirding Assistant 
• Difficulty: mostly moderate 
• Trip Focus: Photographing birds, flowers and sceneries,Tibetan Culture, Plateau Sceneries
• Trip Cost: 4500USD
• Single Supplement: 800 USD 
• Deposit: 500USD
• Trip Size: 2~12 participants
• Space: Open for booking

 III.  Trip Map

IV.  Trip Itinerary
Day 1.  (June 20)Arrive Chengdu, city tour. Overnight: Chengdu. Meals:D
Day 2. (June 21) Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and we drive to Wolong. Overnight: Wolong. Meals:BLD
Day 3. (June 22) Photograph birds in lower part of Wolong. Overnight: Wolong.Meals:BLD
Day 4-5. (June 23-24) Photograph flowers and birds in Balang Mountain, drive on to Rilong. Overnight: Rilong. Meals:BLD
Day 6. (June 25)Photograph birds in Mengbishan,Overnight: Maerkang. Meals:BLD
Day 7. (June 26) Drive from Maerkang to Seda. Overnight Seda. Meals:BLD
Day 8. (June 27) Photograph the largest budhist school in Seda.Overnight: Seda. Meals:BLD
Day 9. (June 28)Drive from Seda to Banma, photograph birds and flowers on the way. Overnight: Banma. Meals:BLD
Day 10. (June 29) Drive from Banma to Jiuzhi, visiting Nianbaoyuzhe, photographing birds and flowers in the reserve. Overnight Jiuzhi. Meals:BLD
Day 11. (June 30) Drive from Jiuzhai to Hongyuan, photograph birds, flowers and beautiful plateau sceneries on the way. Overnight Hongyuan. Meals:BLD
Day 12. (July 1) Search for Blue Eared Pheasants, Tibetan Partridge, Black-necked Crane and other summer breeders. Overnight Ruoergai. Meals:BLD
Day 13. (July 2) Photograph Summer Breeders on the wetlands. Overnight: Ruoergai. Meals:BLD
Day 14. (July 3) Photograph birds and then we drive on to Jiuzhai. Meals:BLD
Day 15. (July 4) Photograph beautiful sceneries in Jiuzhaigou Valley. Overnight: Jiuzhai
Day 16. (July 5) Photograph Shenxianci Senic Park. Overnight:Jiuzhai. Meals:BLD
Day 17. (July 6) Drive from Jiuzhai to Chengdu. Meals:BLD
Day 18. (July 7) City exploration depending on your timing and depart from Chengdu

V.  Inclusions and Exclusions

The cost includes the following:

1. Transportation throughout the trip, including airport pickups and drops at Chengdu airports.
2. Meals in local popular restaurants labeled as as BLD in the itinerary.
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. Basic 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. Any flight tickets to and from Chengdu.
d. Expenses for visa application.


Blooming Flower on Tibetan Plateau
Grandala (Grandala coelicolor) in Balang Mountain
Golden Pheasant
Blue Popy (Meconopsis lancifolia)
Cick Any Picture Above to view more photos from our past trips.

► Spring
► 20 days
► 2-12 Birders
► Difficult
► Photo & Birding
► Airplane & Bus

This trip is specially planned for professional photographers who want to get the best images of endemic birds and mammals, blooming flowers, Tibetan people and beautiful sceneries on Tibetan Plateau. 

The Trip Itinerary:

Day 1.  (June 20)Arrive Chengdu, city tour. Overnight: Chengdu. Meals: D
Our photography trip starts from Chengdu, the provincial capital of Sichuan Province. With a history of about 3000 years and now known as one of the best cities in China to live, there are lots of places you can use your camera to record, some resident endemic birds in parks, bustling pedestrian street, dances and exercises and famous tea houses.
Day 2. (June 21) Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, and we drive to Wolong. Overnight: Wolong. Meals: BLD
In the morning we will first take you to the famous Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding located in the suburban areas of this 14million people city. Here you can photograph pandas at different ages and some endemic birds. After lunch at local popular restaurant, we drive on to Wolong, one of the earliest reserves and the best panda habitats in China. We will spend the afternoon searching birds around our hotel.


Day 3. (June 22) Photograph birds in lower part of Wolong. Overnight: Wolong. Meals:BLD

We will spend the day searching for some photogenic endemic birds in Wolong area and lower part of Balang Mountain. Our main Target today will be Golden Pheasant, Slaty Bunting, Firethroat, Laughingthrushes, Parrotbills, and flowers in lower elevations. To minimize our driving, we will climb over the mountain pass and stay in Rilong Town at the foot of the Balang Mountain. 

Day 4-5. (June 23-24) Photograph flowers and birds in Balang Mountain, drive on to Rilong. Overnight: Rilong. Meals: BLD

We will spend these two days photographing some most fascinating birds in China. Balang mountain is first high mountain standing between Sichuan Basin and Qinghai Tibetan Plateau. It serves as a demarcation line ethnically and in terms of topography with rich flora and fauna resources. We will have lots of opportunities photographing blooming alpine flowers, some rare and beautiful pheasants, soaring raptors, spectacular rosefinches and some great sceneries from the higher part of the mountain. In the afternoon of day 5th, we will drive on to Maerkang after photographing birds, flowers, mammals and sceneries on the Balang Mountain.

Day 6. (June 25)Photograph birds in Mengbishan, Overnight: Maerkang. Meals:BLD
Our main purpose of visiting this mountain is because of convenience in driving and some rare endemic birds living in this mountain. The big elevation differences, well-protected virgin forest, abundant flora resources and being free of dwellers here have made this site a paradise for birds including the endemic birds like Buff-throated Partridge, Sichuan Jay and Chinese Grouse. In the early morning, we drive to the top of the mountain standing at 3900 meters above the sea level, slowly walking down along the paved road to search for some endemic birds such as Sichuan Jay, Crested Tit Warbler, Chinese Fulvetta, Crimson-browed Finch and Three-banded Rosefinch, and Blood Pheasant. In the afternoon, we drive back to Maerkang and photograph Jiarong Tibetans, their villages and Zuokeji Official Mansion. 

Day 7. (June 26) Drive from Maerkang to Seda. Overnight Seda. Meals: BLD

Today is our driving day. We will stop in some beautiful Tibetan villages or monasteries along the way to take some photos of people, architecture and sceneries. We will try to get to the biggest Buddhist school in the world and photo graph the Buddhist village in the golden evening ray.
Day 8. (June 27) Photograph the largest Buddhist school in Seda. Overnight: Seda.
In the morning, we get to the higher place to photograph the wakening Buddhist School in the morning ray. The school was called Seda Wuming Buddhist School. It was founded in 1980 and located in a treeless valley in Seda County of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Thousands of small dormitories built around a few main buildings. There are about 40,000 monks and nuns from different schools of Tibetan Buddhism: Nyingma, Gelug, Sakya and Kagyu. They stay here at different length to study Buddhism and get training which vary from a couple of years to 13 years. This morning you will get lots of opportunities to record this great site from your perspective. In the afternoon, if you have the interests, you can visit the sky bury site and witness the sky bury funeral (no photo is allowed during the funeral). Here you can get a good understanding of Tibetan people’s belief on death and live, as well as body and soul. If you think this might be too hard for you to see. 
Day 9. (June 28)Drive from Seda to Banma, photograph birds and flowers on the way. Overnight: Banma.
Today we will drive from Seda to Banma in Qinghai Province, our photography focus will be alpine flowers, nomads lives and plateau sceneries.

Day 10. (June 29) Drive from Banma to Jiuzhi, visiting Nianbaoyuzhe, photographing birds and flowers in the reserve. Overnight Jiuzhi.
Today we will visit another exciting place, called Nianbaoyuzhe. This mountain is part of Bayankela Mountain Range and is regarded by local Tibetans as their holy mountain. Here you can see alpine lake with lots of swimming fish, sincere Tibetan pilgrims, blooming alpine flowers and birds. If you have interests, we can search for Tibetan Bunting which has very narrow distribution and has been recorded here. 
Day 11. (June 30) Drive from Jiuzhai to Hongyuan, photograph birds, flowers and beautiful plateau sceneries on the way. Overnight Hongyuan. Meals: BLC
Today is our another driving day. We will be awarded by the beautiful sceneries along the way.

Day 12-13. (July 1) Search for Blue Eared Pheasants, Tibetan Partridge, Black-necked Crane and other summer breeders. Overnight Ruoergai. Meals: BLC

We will spend most of these two days searching for birds in different habitats. As the largest wetlands in Sichuan province, Ruoergai Grasslands have been famed as lung of Sichuan. Each year millions of migrant birds come here and spend their summer breeding in this place. The scarce of human population, abundance of lakes and the huge number of grazing animals provide enough food resources and turn this site into a paradise for birds and birders. The mountains with virgin forests at the edge of the plateau provide good habitats for forest birds such as Chinese Grouse, Blue Eared Pheasant, Snowy-browed Laughingthrush and White-browed Tit Wabbler.

Day 14. (July 3) Photograph birds and then we drive on to Jiuzhai. Meals: BLD
We spend the morning photographing summer breeders, alpine flowers and the largest wetlands in Sichuan, we drive on toward Jiuzhai.
Day 15. (July 4) Photograph beautiful sceneries in Jiuzhaigou Valley. Overnight: Jiuzhai Meals:BLD
Jiuzhai, a hidden treasure in the Min mountains of western China, has become a very important tour destination because of its beautiful lakes, well-protected forests and colorful Anduo Tibetan people. Listed as world heritage in 1992, this site now has become one of most popular tour attractions in China. For birders, this site is equally attractive not by its colorful lakes but by the rich bird diversities and some star birds such as Rufous-headed Robin. Our birding in this area is by no means restricted to the park, we will take you to some private birding sites for some nice birds in this area.
Day 16. (July 5) Photograph Shenxianci Senic Park. Overnight: Jiuzhai. Meals: BLD
Today, we will take you to a hidden gem, Shenxianci National Park, a park near Jiuzhaigou but much less crowded than Jiuzhaigou. Shenxianci is famous for the virgin forest and calcified ponds. The name Shenxianci literally means 'Pool of Immortals' or popularly known as 'Goddess Lake'. Tibetan folklore says this is where the fairies bath in ancient times. Our focus today is to photograph birds, scenery and calcified ponds.
Day 17. (July 6) Drive from Jiuzhai to Chengdu.
Today is our driving day. We will drive for about 8 hours from Jiuzhai to Chengdu. The driving is quite scenic. When we start from Jiuzhai, we climb up to the edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau after going through the conifer forest, you will can photograph the yaks grazing on plateau, soaring raptors, Tibetan normads, Tibetan villages. From the plateau we gradually drive into gorge again, passing Songpan Ancient Town surrounded by 1300 year old city wall, Muslim villages, the largest earthquake lake formed in 1933 Earth quake and Qiang villages, and the 2008 earthquake museum. We will make serval stops to photograph those things you have interests.
Day 18. (July 7) City exploration depending on your timing and depart from Chengdu.

Wuming Buddhist School in Seda
A Tibetan Village of Aba County
Calcified Ponds
Cick Any Picture Above to view more photos from our past trips.


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 now safely back home and I have 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

1. How about the guide of this trip?
The guide of this trip is Philip He, the founder of AlpineBirding. He was born and broght up in Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. He himself is a Tibetan. He has worked in the travel industry for more than 15 years and has guided many different trips. As a birder, photographer and cultural enthusiast, he will show you a different China trip with a blend of birding, photographing and cultural appreciation of his hometown.

2. How difficult is this trip?
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. There are some optional hikes along the trails, but it is optional and very few. The most difficult part of the trip is going to the high elevation areas, the highest elevation we will go is around 4500 meters above the sea level. Consult your doctor if you have never been to high elevation area before.

3. How about the food? Is there aways western food avaible?
Food is very important part for all AlpineBirding trips. Please note that in this trip, we will travel in one fo the remotest places in China. Though we will try our best to arrange authentic local food, we have to eat in some small and basic restaurant when we travel to those small places.

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 Sichuan is very safe destination. You don't need. The best way is to consult your personal doctor for suggestions. Yes, you'd better 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 gears do I need to bring?
For this trip, it is important that you have your own binocular and camera. There are some chances we will photograph birds like rosefinches, Black-necked Crane, game birds and some other endemic birds. So if you have a long lens, you can bring with you. It will be very useful to get those wonderful moments of birds. The season we visit is the flower season, if you have a microlens, it will be very handy if you want to get some nice pictures of flowers. Sceneries, people and architecture are also something you can ignore in this trip. So bring your best lens for those thigns. 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. 

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 compare 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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