The Classic Birding Tour in China
Video Intro by the tour guide, Philip He
Situated in a sub-tropical climate, Sichuan is blessed with an impressive geological formation that stretches over 6500m in elevation, making it a fantastic birding destination. In the spectacular nature scenery, our Sichuan birding tour will cover diverse landforms, including farmland and rivers of the Sichuan basin, sub-tropical mountain forest like Qingcheng/ Emei and spectacular Tibetan Plateau mountain ranges of the west with their rolling grasslands, and the sub-alpine forest. The typical climate also promotes great birding. Lying in a biological transition zone where the East and Central Asian zones of the Palearctic border with the Indo-Malayan eco-zone, the birds here are a rich mix of temperate and sub-tropical species. Sichuan can boast some of the richest levels of biodiversity found in the Palearctic. For birders, the province is the best place you can see big number of game birds, laughingthrushes, parrotbills, nuthatches and forktails including a list of endemics such as Chinese Monal, Chinese Grouse, Golden Pheasant, Sichuan Jay, Three-banded Rosefinch, Chinese Nuthatch, White-throated Redstart, Sichuan Leaf Warbler, and Sichuan Treecreeper.
While we are birding along the way in our classic birding tour, we have opportunities to see some of the rarest alpine flowers, fantasitic sceners, most incredible mammals, and visit some of the most featured minority group villages in the area. Amdo and Jiarong are two of the branches of Tibetan who live in the western edge of Tibet Plateau in Sichuan. Birding in Tibetan nomadic area will give us great opportunities to learn about Tibetan culture in China, interact with the locals and even take some great photos of local Tibetans in their unique custome. The areas we are going to visit is always fullof irresistible allure and warm hospitality.
•Encountering a great amount of Chinese endemic alpine birds;
•Birding in breathtaking nature environment;
•Viewing some of the rarest mammals in China.
•Visiting two unique Tibetan minority groups---Amdo and Jiarong. The latter one can only be found in Sichuan Province.
Advantages of travelling with AbsolutePanda
• Unmatched knowledge about local birds, flowers and mammals;
• Bilingual birding expert team who will assist you birding during the day and checking the birding list with you at night;
• Flexibility in planning itineraries for both professional and amateur birding;
• Many years of running high-end travel business, strong logistic supports;
• Skill of bring you highlights from food, scenery and local ethnical minority, not only birds;
• Unbeatable price for the same quality service;The more people join the less you pay.
• Small group size, no more than 10 people;
• Guaranteed departure, the minimum departure limit is only 1 people;
• Provide Western breakfast wherever it is possible and necessary.
Running Blood Pheasant, male
(MAY25) Day 1 Chengdu/Wolong
Group Tour Participants: 2
Date & Price notes
1. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and are given in US Dollars. Fees may be different due to different seasons.
2. The hotel and vehicle could be customized.
3. Dates may change and could also be customized.
1. General Questions
2. Pricing Questions
3. Health & Safety Questions
4. Traveling in China, Before Arrival Questions
5. Traveling in China, After Arrival Questions
1. General Questions
a. Why should I choose AbsolutePanda?
AbsolutePanda is the ONLY travel company in the world focused on pandas and other endangered animals in China, providing eco-friendly trips to gain comprehensive experiences and life-time memories. We are an experienced travel operator and the experts gather from varies field. We help our clients obtain better understanding of native animals, their habitats, and neighboring minority cultures through carefully-planned visits.
b. Can I see examples of past clients whom you have served?
You may visit TripAdvisor, where we are proud to have 100% positive feedback as “Excellent”. You may also check our “testimonial”, “gallery” and “Videos”.
c. Does the pandas still exist in the wild?
The Panda is a conservation-reliant endangered species. There are only about 1864 individuals living in the wild. However, we do have opportunities to spot wild pandas in the carefully selected natural sites. Giant Panda Breeding Base also offers a program in which people can interact with a captive panda after paying a certain amount of donation.
a. How do I complete the reservation?
To make a reservation, a deposit of US$200 per person is required for trips less than 8 days, a deposit of US$500 per person is required for longer trips. Please be aware that the cost of transportation (airplane ticket, railway…) has to add up to the total amount of deposit, either paid by wire transfer or sent by Paypal. Complete payment is required 30 days prior to departure. For trips booked less than 30 days before departure, complete payment is required immediately. Tour prices are made on the basis of per person and double occupancy. If a customer fails to make full payment of the trip as stated above, AbsolutePanda reserves the right to cancel the tour and retain the deposit.
b. What is included in the tour cost?
c. What is excluded from the tour cost?
• International Flight
• Chinese Tourist Visa, which is required for most foreign passport holders.
• International SOS Emergency Evacuation Service Plan
• Meals not included in the itinerary and alcohol.
• Expenses of a personal nature (e.g. mini bar, personal telecommunications, laundry, etc.)
• Excursions and activities not included in the itinerary.
For specific itineraries, please refer to the pricing tab associated with those trips.
d. Can I request to buy my own domestic flight tickets?
You may purchase your own domestic flight tickets, but please be aware to avoid restricted discount tickets. Those tickets are typically non-changeable once they are issued, and may result in unforeseen complications.
3. Health & Safety Questions
a. Can you accommodate allergies and food preferences?
Yes, AbsolutePanda team is very serious about the enjoyment of meals and choice of restaurants, because we take each meal as a chance to show you a unique local cooking culture, and regard it as vital part of our trip quality. All restaurants will be carefully picked and all the allergy information will be properly handled. For people who are allergic to certain items, we will avoid any chance of contacting those items in our arrangement. Generally, we request restaurant chefs to not use MSG to dishes. For travelers who have severe allergies, please consult their physician prior to traveling. Please inform us if you are allergy to specific food, such as peanuts, fish, or shellfish, so that our guides can be prepared and arrange restaurants ahead of time.
b. What kinds of altitudes do travelers experience?
The altitudes is under 1000 meters for regular city tours in chengdu. However, to seek endemic animals and attractions away from the city, our tours may experience altitudes above 3,000 meters. Acute Mountain Sickness(AMS) may occurs to some travelers, resulting in fatigue, headache, nausea and loss of appetite. Our itineraries are carefully crafted to ensure travelers have plenty of time to rest and adjust to the altitude.
a. How do I get a visa? What kind of visa should I get?
Nearly all foreign visitors to China will need a tourist visa. You may contact the Chinese Embassy in your area. Please note that travelers from certain countries, including the U.S., are now required to submit a letter of invitation with their visa application. If needed, AbsolutePanda will be happy to provide this letter after you have completed your booking.
b. What inoculations should I get before visiting China?
You may wish to refer to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provides a comprehensive list of recommended immunizations prior to traveling in China: http://www.cdc.gov/travel
c. What kinds of toiletries should I bring?
Be aware most of restrooms doesn't provide toilet paper in China. We recommend that you can bring your own toiletries if you favor in particular brand. It is very useful have hand sanitizer during outdoor journey. We will send you a handbook with a suggested packing list in PDF format prior to your departure.
d. What kinds of medications or medical supplies should I bring?
During the trip, AbsolutePanda will have a general first aid kit. We also recommend that you can bring antibacterial ointment, antihistamines, anti-nausea medication, anti-diarrheal medication (Loperamide), insect repellent containing DEET, hydrocortisone cream for itches, Ibuprofen or other pain-relievers, and sunscreen (30+ protection factor).
e. Are there baggage weight limits while traveling by air within China?
Yes, the luggage limit is 20 kg (~44 lbs) per person for economy-class flights.
5. Traveling in China, After Arrival Questions
a. What is the state of the restrooms in China?
There are seat-toilets available in most of hotels, but be aware that squat-toilets are very common in public restrooms. You may also want to bring some toilet paper to the areas where hygiene condition are subpar.
b. How easy is it to change currencies upon arrival?
It is quite easy, you may change the currencies in the international airports, large banks, and hotels. China is still very much a cash-based economy, so major credit cards are only accepted at few locales.
c. Are there any restrictions on photography?
China is a very photogenic country. Most people are very comfortable being photographed. Ask first if you have any doubt, photography could be prohibited in some temples, monasteries, and museums. It is prohibited in all military bases.
d. Is it safe to drink tap water in China?
Tap water is not safe to drink in China. AbsolutePanda provides bottled water throughout the journey, and we allow restaurants to serve only purified water.
“Only Good Travel Agency We've Ever Worked With. Phenomenal!”
All of my previous experiences with travel agents/tour planners have been unmitigated disasters at one end and massive disappointments with added inconvenience on the other. Absolute Panda was the first exception and thank all the travel the gods for that.We contacted them on short notice (just under 3 weeks) and during a busy time, with most of the guides already committed to other travelers. The team still managed to get something put together in time for us to get our expedited visas and locked up a great guy named "Leo" to be our guide.Leo may have not known all the names of the birds we saw, but he knew the sights and their history well, freely providing detailed historical anecdotes with precise dates and other added insights. At one point, my DSLR camera body had an error that I couldn't clear and he was able to find an authorized Nikon repair shop that was open and, with just a 90 minute detour, we were able to get it fixed and not miss out on any of our planned activities.Another thing we greatly appreciated (and it was one of the most grievous failings of the previous companies) was that they really listened to what we asked for, which was to fill our days from early start to late finish. When things ran short, Leo was always able to find another interesting stop or location to check out.Even though Philllip was with another group during our visit, he still found time to check in with us and make sure we had everything we needed and that we were happy with the service. Our driver was a little quiet, but always polite and professional.The only negative point is the whole payment by direct bank transfer thing, which is sadly standard practice across all the Asian countries we have visited, so it can't and shouldn't be held against them.I unreservedly and enthusiastically recommend Absolute Panda and Phillip's team to anyone considering a trip to the shockingly beautiful country of the Sichuan Province. It was worth every cent and then some. I find it highly improbable that there is a better company to work with in the entire region.
---- guest from India
“The Genuine Chine by a very high professional service”
We were interested in travelling through China in a personalized and flexible way, being sure to be safe and avoiding any “banal touristic places”. Last but not least, we would like met pandas and interact with them.
We found Absolute Panda on Trip Advisor and we read the excellent opinions on them. So we wrote to Philip He. Since the first contact, Absolute Panda met our expectations fully. We were positive impressed about Absolute Panda proactive and custmer oriented approach: before our leaving, Philip tried to understand our needs and expectations, and then sent us a detailed and personalized trip plan, that excited us immediately. Later we were invited to fulfill a form, by e.mail, with our food requirements and some information.
Since our arrival at Chengdu airport and for the whole trip, we had a guide and a driver at our disposal and we travelled with them for about 15 days in the Sichuan zone, seeing wonderful natural places, the authentic Chines and Tibetan villages, far away from the usual western touristic routes. Being in a personalized tour, we were flexible to see and stop wherever we liked.
Yang, the guide during our first part of the trip, was an excellent birdwatcher and showed us plenty of birds, even rare; but most of all, he was a competent trip manager, very proactive to anticipate our needs and authentically friend with us. So we completely enjoyed our trip, feeling among “competent and sincere friends”.
On the other hand, Philip, who took us during our second week, is very expert about Chinese and Tibetan History, cooking traditions and social matters: thanks to him we could better understand and appreciate a such complex and “western different” Country like China. Philip is also an excellent photographer, trip manager able to face up with difficult situations, that otherwise may treats some trips. He’s very helpful in many ways (he even lent us his personal photocamera, more professional than ours, and, last but not last, took for us some wonderful photos ).
Lastly, Absolute Panda fully met our expectations at same as regard as the hotels, the restaurants and all the other services (experienced driver, clean and comfortable car, …): all was the best possible, according to the local standards, at a fair price.
We really thank Absolute Panda for having introduced us the Authentic China and having allowed us to loving it.
We would like to come back to China, specially to the Tibetan zone, and, sure, will be with Absolute Panda again!
---Serena from Italy
“Qinling Mountain village/birding trek”
My husband and I wanted to visit a specific, remote region of the Qinling Mountains, hiking, birding and exploring traditional villages. We contacted Absolute Panda and received an immediate, enthusiastic response from Philip, our guide and the founder of the company. Right away, he asked several questions about our priorities and our abilities, and promised to cater a trip within our budget. Over the course of several months, he was in touch often, updating us on his research of the area, asking questions about preferences, and alerting us to possible inconveniences along the way (such as there being no toilet facilities, permit restrictions, etc.). It was very clear that he wanted this trip to be the best for us that it could be.# And it was! From the moment we arrived at the airport, Philip was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable. He scouted the area before we arrived and established relationships with villagers that made all the difference. For a week, he showed us a region that few foreigners have seen and was so attuned to our experience, that he made several adjustments without us even having to ask. In this way, within a day, he was able to perceive the balance of hiking and birding that we preferred. He was also very cautious as a baseline, but willing to be adventurous when we wanted to be. He dealt easily and effectively with the inevitable quarrelsome officials, and was a tireless, wonderful translator as we weaved our way from village to village, asking questions and sharing meals with villagers.# What really makes Philip and Absolute Panda stand apart from other great tour services, is their perception of travelers’ needs and flexibility. Philip could tell from early on that my husband and I were very adventurous and willing to stray from the detailed itinerary he had sent beforehand if unique opportunities arose. In this way, he suggested small alterations, such as a visit to a local sorghum vinegar factory and an evening making dumplings with a village family, that proved to be highlights of the trip. And I know that if we were the type of people who wanted to stick strictly with the itinerary, he would have done so, happily.# Philip certainly knows his birds, and moves so easily between the roles of birding expert, hiking guide, translator and trip manager. He was an equally wonderful guide to the city, showing us X’ian for a day and even treating us to a blind massage in the Muslim Quarter after days of roughing it in the mountains. All the staff he hired along the way (drivers, hosts, local guides) were competent, lovely people, all of whom we remember fondly. Four months after our trip, we still miss Philip, as a guide and friend, and are hoping to take another trip with him soon. We know that wherever we choose, he’ll make it fantastic.
---- Zuma.Z from US
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