If you've experienced the allure of Thailand and the eastern Himalayas, you might look wistfully at the birding map of the region and wonder about that large blur in southernmost China linking the two--at some 152,000 square miles, Yunnan, the country's eighth largest province, is nearly the size of huge California. And with close to 500 species recorded in the vicinity of one of the sites on our route, we'll be visiting what is undoubtedly the best birding base in all of China!
We'll spend most of our tour in far western Yunnan. Part of the charm of this scenically arresting, tucked-away, and culturally authentic corner of the world is that it has yet to be discovered by western tourism. Nonetheless, roads are far better than you might suppose, accommodations are comfortable (double rooms with private toilet and hot shower), and the hospitable climate ensures a year-round supply of fresh food.
We'll follow an itinerary that draws upon co-leader Jesper Hornskov's unequaled birding experience in the area and has been carefully planned to maximize time in the field in the impressive Gaoligong Mountains, in history-burdened Tengchong, and in the region around the lively, jade-trading town of Ruili. In these areas west of the mighty Salween (Nu-Jiang) River, steadily improving infrastructure has made accessible a variety of habitats, from dense forest cloaking the hills and high mountain slopes, to paddies and scrub hosting winter visitors and migrants still on passage. We'll have time to properly search for the specialties of these various habitats before concluding our travels with a quick visit to picturesque Lijiang, a World Heritage Site east of the Salween biological divide and home to the endemic Yunnan Nuthatch.
We expect a total list of 375-400 species. Consider joining us, too, for the pre-tour extension--it will offer the chance to add some Palearctic "ultra-heavyweight" species around Beijing, and the opportunity to visit some of the most intriguing cultural sites in the city!
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