You will be met by a ClimbDali guide at the Lijiang airport, and transported by private van to Shuhe, a quaint Naxi village down the road from Lijiang Old Town that is comparatively un-crowded. Spend the afternoon biking around the old town, learn about the ancient art of Naxi paper-making and visit the museum dedicated to the life of Joseph Rock, an explorer and biologist that made his home in the area in the early 20th century. Night in Shuhe.
Day 2: Wenhai Trek
Trek to Wenhai Lake (3,100m), a marshland that is often filled with migratory birds. We will arrive in the early afternoon, and the rest of the day is yours to spend exploring the lake and the nearby villages. We will spend the night in a charming guesthouse at the foot of the 5,500m Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, and enjoy a hot shower and a warm meal.
Day 3: Wenhai Trek, Tiger Leaping Gorge
We will wake early and (hopefully!) be treated to spectacular views of the Jade Dragon above. We will then continue hiking down to SnowFlower Village (XueHua Cun), an Yi agricultural village that primarily grows potatoes and buckwheat. We will enjoy fresh buckwheat bread for lunch and a chat with the village headmaster, before continuing our trek. We will follow the trail west, and will soon be treated to our first views of the famous Yangtse River, known here as the Jinsha River. We will continue down to LongPan village on the east bank of the Yangtse. A brief van ride will take us to the trailhead of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, and after a Szechuan-style lunch, we will resume trekking. (You will be required to unpack and take with you everything you need for the following two days, though this should be limited to clothes, personal articles, and snacks). Our destination for tonight is less than two hours away: the Naxi Family Guesthouse.
Day 4: Continue Trekking the Tiger Leaping Gorge
This morning, we will continue trekking up over the 28 Bends, the most challenging section of trail. Here, we will officially enter the gorge, in all of its majesty! Steep limestone cliffs drop several thousand meters to the raging rapids of the JinSha River below. We will continue along the trail at a comfortable pace, taking our time to savor the gorge. In the afternoon, we will arrive at a mountain lodge, which boasts a terrace and bathrooms (it's true!) with the nicest views in the world. And, their apple pie is delicious. Accommodation: Halfway Guesthouse.
Day 5: Trekking the Tiger Leaping Gorge, Transfer to Shaxi
Today, we will trek along a path carved into the cliffs, through a waterfall and past a temple dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. We will continue down to the main road, and then further down to the very bottom of the gorge (something which most hikers don't have the opportunity to do). We will stand atop a massive boulder in the narrowest part of the gorge as the river surges violently past us and marvel at its splendor. Finally, we will return to the road following a different route, with an opportunity to climb the "Sky Ladder" for those brave enough. After a brief rest, we will depart for Shaxi, two hours away by private van.
Day 6: Shaxi Weekly Market, Afternoon Bike Ride
In the morning, we will walk around Shaxi Old Town, which is one of the best preserved trading posts on the Old Tea Horse Road (Southern Silk Road) and one of the best areas in Yunnan to observe traditional village life. If the stars are aligned (if it is Friday), we will visit the weekly Shaxi bazaar, in which the locals pour in from the countryside to exchange everything from animals to vegetables to tobacco to daily use items. Spend the afternoon biking around the Shaxi Valley. In the afternoon, we will go on a nice bike ride around the picturesque Shaxi valley, through old villages and rice paddies.
Day 7: Morning Hike, Abseiling Session. Night at Hot Springs.
In the morning, we will hike up Mt. Shibaoshan, which contains a handful of ancient temples built directly into the sandstone rock faces. We will hike up a small canyon to a secluded reservoir, and learn how to perform a roped abseil from atop a bridge. We will explore the rest of the temples as well as a handful of grottoes that contain 1000-yr old Buddhist carvings and statues. In the afternoon, we will drive to a small hot springs resort and spend the evening enjoying a relaxing soak.
Day 8: Kayaking in Little West Lake, Rock Climbing in Shuanglang
In the morning, we will drive to Little West Lake (named after its more famous counterpart in Hangzhou), an ecological hotspot and marshland that is home to several rare species of birds. We will kayak through the reeds and enjoy lunch in the home of a local farmer on the shores of the lake. In the afternoon, we will drive to Shuanglang, a 1000-yr old fishing village on the shores of Lake Erhai, and spend the afternoon rock climbing, enjoying the stunning views of the entire valley.
Day 9: Cycling along Lake Erhai, Hiking to Wuwei Temple in Cangshan.
We will cycle along the eastern shore of Erhai Lake, and catch a ferry to Dali Old Town, just in time for lunch. After checking in to your guesthouse, we will embark on a light hike up the Cangshan Mountains to WuweiSi, a Daoist Temple that aspiring monks train Kung Fu and Tai Qi at. In the evening, we will enjoy a traditional Dali meal. The evening is yours to enjoy the lively Dali street culture, shop for souvenirs, etc.
Day 10: Explore Dali Old Town, Depart.
Wake up early and wander around the Old Town, assisted by an optional scavenger hunt. Unfortunately, this marks the end of the tour. Depart via airports in Dali or Kunming.
Dali Adventure/Sightseening Tour (7 Days)
Day 1: Arrival, Hiking in Mt. Cangshan
You will be met by a ClimbDali guide at Dali airport (or in Dali City), and transported by private van to your guesthouse in Dali Old Town. We will spend the afternoon hiking around the Cangshan Mountains, stopping first at a tea plantation to learn about and experience the art of making tea. The evening is yours to spend walking around Dali Old Town, experiencing the vibrant street culture of Dali that comes alive at night.
Day 2: Kayaking in Little West Lake, Rock Climbing in Shuanglang
In the morning, we will drive to Little West Lake (named after its more famous counterpart in Hangzhou), an ecological hotspot and marshland that is home to several rare species of birds. We will kayak through the reeds and enjoy lunch in the home of a local farmer on the shores of the lake.In the afternoon, we will drive to Shuanglang, a 1000-yr old fishing village on the shores of Lake Erhai, and spend the afternoon rock climbing, enjoying the stunning views of the entire valley.
Day 3: Cycling along Lake Erhai to a Buddhist Temple
We will cycle along the eastern shore of Erhai Lake, and into the hills of Binchuan. Our destination is a Buddhist Temple complex dedicated to the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. The highlight is a hanging temple, built directly into an overhanging cliff face! We will continue cycling over to a small coffee plantation, where we will enjoy dinner before returning to Dali.
Day 4: Yangbi River Rafting
Today, we will drive over to Yangbi county, and spend the day rafting down the lazy Heihui River, passing traditional villages and rice paddies. Watch out for the water buffalo! After returning to shore, we will drive over to Shimenguan, a 300m+ deep gorge with clear pools, and an excellent setting for our dinner. Afterwards, we will spend a few minutes walking around before going to sleep.
Day 5: Weishan Old Town, Weibaoshan Holy Mountain
In the morning, we will drive over to Weishan, the former capital of Dali, and a very-well preserved and enjoyably untouristy Old Town. Along the way, we will stop at the weekly market, where locals pour in from the countryside to stock of up on daily necessities – everything from live animals to tea to toothbrushes. After lunch at one of the old courtyards in Weishan, we will hike up Mt Weibao, a Daoist Holy Mountain that contains about a dozen original and restored temples, and some of the most beautiful forest in Dali. We will spend the night at the top of the mountain, in a basic guesthouse that is tended by a sweet old caretaker.
Day 6: Return to Dali
We will hike back down the mountain in the morning, stopping at the 300-yr-old magnificent Changchun Temple for a brief Taiqi session, and return to Dali for a late lunch. The afternoon is yours to explore Dali Old Town, with the assistance of an optional scavenger hunt. Find a café, enjoy a cup of coffee, and simply savor Dali’s unique ambience. After a delicious Szechuan-style dinner, the evening is yours to catch up on email, and complete any last-minute souvenir shopping.
Day 7: Depart Dali!
After breakfast, we will arrange for transportation back to the Dali airport, so that you can return home or continue your journey in China!