For the past several years Jim has led a photo tour to China, and every year he changes the itinerary because there is so much to photograph here. In 2017, the tour is primarily devoted to some of the fascinating and unique wildlife endemic to China. You will love looking through a telephoto lens and seeing giant pandas, red pandas, the incredible blue-faced golden monkeys, and the unique snub-nosed monkeys. We also visit Shangdi-La which borders Tibet and is populated mostly by Tibetan people. You will have the chance to photograph the beautiful, exotic architecture here and capture fantastic travel portraits of the very friendly people. We also have the opportunity to visit Xian and photograph the funerary art of the terra-cotta soldiers and horses buried with the first emperor of China more than 2000 years ago. This is an awesome itinerary.
DAY 1, Fri. June 2. Arrange your international flight so you arrive in Shanghai, China on this day. Don't forget that if you leave from North America, you will cross the International Dateline and lose one day on the calendar (returning home you gain it back). You will be met by a local agent with a placard bearing your name on it. If you want to arrive a day or two early, let Jim know and he will make the arrangements for you through his local guide. This evening at 6pm we have a welcome dinner and we'll discuss the upcoming tour. Jim will answer any questions you may have about photography or anything pertaining to trip. Overnight Shanghai Broadway Mansions Hotel (4 star) Welcome D
DAY 2, Sat. June 3 This morning we transfer to the airport and fly to Xian. We then visit the famous funerary art directly consisting of approximately 8000 terra-cotta soldiers plus chariots and horses buried with the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to protect him in the afterlife. This site was just discovered in 1974, and it dates from 210 BC. We then transfer to the train station and take a high speed train to Foping Panda Valley Park to visit and in the afternoon we photograph the beautiful (and endangered) golden monkeys with their incredible blue faces.
Xi’an has over 3,000 years of recorded history and has the capital of 12 dynasties, though it has been known as various names. It was also the starting point of the Silk Road, where camels were loaded for their long and perilous journey to Central Asia. Xi’an has recently become an important center for the central government’s drive to develop western china. Overnight Xian Time Tunnel Designer Boutique Hotel (4 star). B, L, D
DAYS 3 - 5 , Sun. - Tue., June 4 - 6. We travel by either road or a high speed train (construction of the train is scheduled to be finished January, 2017) and spend two days capturing the antics of the golden monkeys in the morning and the afternoon. They spend most of their time in trees so we'll get completely natural images. The interaction of the mothers and babies is adorable. The ideal lens is a zoom in the 100-400mm range, but at times the monkeys are very close and full frame portraits are possible. The monkeys share their habitat with the giant panda, the red panda, leopard, wild boar, crested ibis, and a diverse group of pheasants. Overnight Foping Panda Forest Hotel (4 star). B, L, D
DAY 6, Wed. June 7. After breakfast we travel to Chengdu by either high speed train or a train/air combination, depending on the train schedule. We then drive 1 1/2 hours to the Dujiangyan Panda Center.
The giant panda is an endangered animal found only in western China. Because of human encroachment, the panda’s habitat is now reduced to six isolated patches mainly in Sichuan. There are an estimated 1000-1500 wild pandas living in the mountains in the rim of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Bamboo is the main source of food for pandas and arrow bamboo is their favorite. Bamboo is a poor source of nutrition, so they eat as much as 38kg a day. One reason why the habitat range of the pandas is limited is because they only eat specific species of bamboo found within their home range, and the areas are becoming progressively smaller. The lifespan of pandas in the wild is unknown, but pandas in captivity live 14 to 20 years. Overnight Dujiangyan Merchant Panda Hotel (2 stars). B, L, D
DAY 7, Thur June 8 . We have a whole day to observe and photograph the giant pandas in a natural setting. The pandas we see are from very young to mature, and they are among the easiest animals to photograph because most of the time they pose for the camera. Capture them in the trees, eating on the ground, and playing. Their antics span the gamut from cute to comical, and you'll love this close encounter with such a unique and beautiful animal. Again, a 100-400mm or 80-400mm lens is ideal to take environmental shots as well as closeup portraits. At the end of the day we drive 1 1/2 hours to Chengdu. Overnight Chengdu Panda Garden Crowne Plaza Hotel (5 star) B, L, D
DAY 8, Fri. June 9. After breakfast we visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to photograph the beautiful red pandas. Unlike their giant cousins, these guys move quickly as they negotiate tree branches and romp on the ground. You'll have a lot of fun, though, because they are entertaining to watch and they make great subjects. We may also be lucky to see and photograph very young giant pandas. Overnight Chengdu Airport Hotel (5 star) or Panda Garden Crowne Plaza Hotel (5 star) B, L, D
DAY 9, Sat. June 10. This morning we fly to Shangri-La . We drive along the Mekong River 2 1/2 hours to the Tacheng Snub-nosed Monkey Center. There are 8 different families with around 90 monkeys. This facility was established to learn about the snub-nosed monkey social interactions, health problems, and general behavior. Despite its morphological distinctiveness and noteworthy biology this is one of the lesser known primate species. In recent years, however, knowledge about the behavior and ecology of the snub-nosed monkey has grown. Lack of information is mainly a result of difficult research conditions due to the monkey's semi-nomadic lifestyle, elusive nature and inhospitable habitat with extremely steep hillsides, impenetrable bamboo thickets, freezing winter climate with snow as well as damp and foggy summers with minimum visibility. This research facility allows photographers to have close encounters with these primates that otherwise would be virtually impossible to capture. Overnight Tacheng Snub-nosed Monkey Eco Park Hotel B, L, D
DAY 10 - 11, Sun. - Mon. June 11 - 12. We have two days to photograph these intriguing monkeys, and this gives you enough time to get the best possible portraits, interactions, and behavior of the snub-nosed primates. We will also have time for a group critique which is a time to share your favorite pictures as well as show images to get Jim's professional feedback. Overnight Tacheng Snub-nosed Monkey Eco Park Hotel B, L, D
DAY 12, Tue. June 13. After breakfast we have another session with the monkeys and then we drive back to Shangri-La where we can focus on traditional Chinese architecture, reflections, and twilight photography. Shangri-La is located in northwest Yunnan Province which is the border with Tibet and Sichuan Province. It is on the Tibetan Plateau, and it has the deepest gorges in China. The town of Shangdi-La is 10,700 feet in elevation, and the major population is Tibetan. Other ethnic groups include the Han, Yi, Bai, and Naxi people. Overnight Shangdi-La Boutique Hotel (4 star) B, L, D. Overnight Shangri-La Boutique Hotel (4 star) B, L, D.
DAY 13, Wed. June 14. After breakfast we fly from Shangdi-La to Kunming to connect to our flight to Beijing. Overnight at the Beijing Sino Swiss Airport Hotel **** (B, L, D)
DAY 14, Thur. June 15. We transfer this morning to the airport by a hotel shuttle for our international flight home, knowing that we've seen and photographed amazing subjects in this unique photo tour of China.
Tour cost: $5850 includes all lodging based on double room occupancy, all meals as noted in the itinerary, all ground transportation including airport transfers, all admissions and activity expenses as noted in the itinerary, domestic airport taxes, and drinking water.
Domestic airfare: $1121
Single supplement: $695
Not included: International airfare, items of a personal nature, mini-bar, laundry, alcoholic beverages, travel insurance, AEA/SOS evacuation coverage ($25 per person required by China), excursions not included in the itinerary