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Ecology, Charity & Environment

Amazing China

China - bastion of natural wonders & culture

China ranks as the third largest territory after Russia and Canada, with over 6 distinct ecosystems within its vast borders. From the Himalayan mountain range of the southwest, up through the Gobi Desert in the north, down along China’s “Main Street” (Yangtzi River), and all through the lowlands of China’s southeastern territory, China has one of the most varied environments in the world. Accordingly, numerous estimates suggest that China possesses the most varieties of fauna and flora, including some 32,000 documented types of higher plants.

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A recent study conducted over the last 5 years with the participation of over 1,700 scientists, estimates that 25%-36% of the Earth’s wild mammal species are at risk of extinction. Sadly, a large number of those species are located in China. Due to China’s huge population, exponential growth rate, and lax environmental protection, China’s natural areas are rapidly being encroached upon. Consequently, this loss of habitat is the greatest threat to all wild mammal species throughout China. VariArts has specifically designed environmental tours to connect concerned travelers with China’s priceless, natural bounty, before it’s too late.

Sample China Natural Wonders Tour:

Day 1. Chengdu

Arrive at Chengdu International Airport. Meet your guide at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Relax your way into your first day in China by enjoying a Buddhist environmental tea ceremony and a foot massage. Chinese foot massages treat the entire body, a welcome experience after a long flight. After a relaxing massage, there will be a welcome dinner at Lang Bridge Restaurant.

Day 2.  Wolong

Following breakfast at the hotel, drive to the Chengdu Research Base of the Giant Panda Breeding Center and enjoy a tour from a panda expert. The researchers at the base have painstakingly recreated the panda’s natural environments in order to study the rare animals up close. After the base, drive to Pingwu County to the Wolong Nature Reserve. At the reserve, pandas live among thick forests and bamboo thickets. You’ll actually be able to touch a rare, and adorable, wild panda. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.

Day 3. Changbai Mountains

Head into the Changbai Mountains, tracking the giant panda with monitoring and naturalist staff at the reserve. You’ll learn the telltale signs that indicate the presence of a panda, and learn more about the endangered species. There will be an evening talk on the giant panda, the groundbreaking research being done at the Wolong Reserve, and the current status of the panda population in the region. Enjoy some of the region’s signature cuisine at a dinner in the home of a local family.

Day 4. Wanglang

Start the day with an early morning bird watching hike led by two reserve staff and English speaking guides who will give you an introduction the region’s rare species. In the afternoon, take a picnic box lunch on a walk into the hills above the reserve headquarters for an excellent view of the surrounding terrain. On the walk through the forests, reserve guides will teach you about Wolong’s flora and fauna, and the identification skills needed to spot key species.


Day 5. Jiuzhaigou Valley

Take a six-hour drive to Jiuzhaigou Valley, enjoying the beautiful natural scenery with the help of an expert English speaking naturalist. Jiuzhaigou Valley is a great masterpiece of nature, home to dreamlike scenery and abundant natural resources. Take in blue lakes, waterfalls, verdant forests, snow-covered mountains, and the folk customs of the Tibetan and Qiang peoples. Arrive at the Sheraton Resort, where you will have dinner and spend the night.

Day 6. Jiuzhai Valley Park

Jiuzhai Valley National Park is not just spectacularly scenic, it’s also home to nine Tibetan villages, over 220 bird species, and a number of endangered plant and animal species, including the giant panda, Sichuan golden monkey, the Sichuan takin and numerous orchids and rhododendrons. Spend the day exploring the reserve, taking in the rich variety of wildlife. Dinner is a feast of Tibetan specialties.

Day 7. Ruo’ergai

After breakfast at the hotel, go bird watching with an English-speaking naturalist who will educate you about the region’s endangered plant and animal species. Drive to the Ruoergai Grassland National Nature Reserve and enjoy the Black Crane Bird Discovery Trip. The marshland is home to nomadic Tibetan tribes, and left over relics from the time the Red Army spent there during the Long March. Countless exotic species, including the black-necked crane, live in the vast wetlands.

Day 8. Ruo’ergai

Awake early and enjoy the sunrise, getting an early start on a day of bird watching with an English-speaking bird expert. The reserve’s most well known avian species is the black-necked crane. The crane is on the endangered species list, and its numbers are sadly dwindling. Buddhists regard the black-necked crane as sacred, and great efforts are being made to save the bird from extinction. Restore yourself at the end of an active day with dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 9. Chengdu

Experience one last brilliant sunrise over the Changbai Mountains and spend another day with the English-speaking bird expert in the reserve’s lush forests, observing the region’s wildlife. From there, it’s back to Jiuzhaigou for the flight to Chengdu. Dinner at a local restaurant is followed by another night at the Sheraton Hotel.

Day 10. Guilin

Leave the hotel and transfer to Chengdu airport for the flight to Guilin. Upon arrival in Guilin, drive to Yangshuo, enjoying the beautiful views along the way. The region is known for its unique karst topography – limestone hills which rise out of the landscape in astonishing gravity defying configurations – and lush hills dotted with rice paddies. Spend the night at the Sheraton Hotel. Few manmade structures can rival the natural landscape, and the HOMA is one of them. The interior is equally impressive, combining cutting-edge architecture and contemporary art for a one of a kind hotel experience.

Day 11. Guilin - Sheraton Hotel Arrival

Spend the day getting a taste of Chinese traditional rural life visiting the local villages surrounding Yangshuo. Activities include cycling along Moon Hill – one of the most-visited sites around Yangshuo – and with good reason, and trying your hand at rock climbing. Take a leisurely cruise along the Li River, taking in the dazzling scenery, and observing Cormorant fishing. The night is devoted to the Liu Sanjie Impressions show, an incredible performance staged on dozens of rafts floating on the Li River surrounded by karst hills.

Day 12. Longsheng

Drive to Longsheng Pingji Rice Terrace. The mountains are covered with terraced rice fields, some of them reaching up to 1,000-meter (3,300-foot) peaks. Local farmers still cultivate the land in the traditional matter, carving narrow paddies into the steep hills. The terraces have different appearances in the four seasons. In spring, peasants flood the terraces until they resemble lines of silver necklaces. During summer, the rice crops paint the terraces a rich green. In fall, the rice turns yellow, giving a golden tinge to the hills during harvest season. Winter months see the terraces dressed in snow.

Day 13. Longsheng

Enjoy leisure time in Longji and Ping’an villages in Longsheng. Help a farmer with his fields and experience the local rural life. The villages are not only endowed with natural beauty, they’re also inhabited by Chinese ethnic minorities with their own colorful customs, costumes, and crafts. Explore the Old Town on your own for dinner, a great chance to try some of the region’s special snacks.