Sichuan Mammals Tour
May 3, 2024 - May 16, 2024£880 – £4135
This tour will explore some pristine areas for Chines mammals and other wildlife including wild panda habitat. By hiking in this forest we will be in prime panda habitat and will hopefully be rewarded with one of the rarest sights in nature.
However this is only the first of three very different habitats we will be exploring, from the bamboo zone we will travel to the edge of the Tibetan plateau and to the rocky and rugged wilderness of Ruoergai where typical high altitude species such as Pallas’s cat and Chinese mountain cat live and then down into the forested mountains of Tangjiahe where musk deer, serow, gorals, badgers and bears live. We will spend a considerable amount of time exploring these habitats for wildlife and trying to see as many of these species as possible and hopefully get some rare species too.
This is a unique tour that explores part of China that are rarely visited, to get a good idea of what to expect we recommend you read through the below information. We have outlined a detailed itinerary for the entire trip.
Top Animals on Tour
Chinese Mountain Cat
Chengdu / Panda Location
Today you will arrive into Chengdu and you will be met at the airport by your local guide and then depart the city and head to our panda location, the drive will take around 5-6 hours and depending on your arrival time (and local conditions – as there are two high passes to cross and snow can block the roads) we may overnight en-route and continue first thing in the morning. Either way it is a good idea to get a good nights sleep tonight as tomorrow we will head into the park and begin our quest for the elusive giant panda.
For the next 7 full days we will hike the various trails in panda habitat, the forest here is enormous and there are many access points. We will select the best one with the help of our local guide who knows the area. Each day we will hike trails and scan for pandas in our attempt to see one of these elusive animals. There is a wealth of other life here including Chinese serow, Chinese goral, sambar, tufted deer, northern leopard cat, complex-toothed flying squirrel and Chinese hog badger as well as a large range of hardy winter birds including various pheasants. However as with most forests seeing much wildlife is difficult and nearly all of our time will be dedicated to looking for giant and red pandas.
We cannot include too much detail here as there is no fixed rule to what we will do each day, it is very much a play it by ear situation depending on panda movements and recent activity. What we can say is that each day will be long, there will be much hiking, the conditions are tough, temperatures in March can still be cold at night and in the shade and terrain rugged. However if you want to see a wild giant panda this is what is needed.
If we do encounter a giant panda early then we do not have to rough it in the forest, we can come back to the hotel and make other plans. There is certainly a lot of other wildlife to be seen around here, our first and major target is of course the panda but other species can be targeted if we get lucky.
Each day we will come back to the hotel for dinner and the night, preparing to travel back into the heart of panda habitat again tomorrow.
Also depending on the road conditions it is most likely we have to overnight in Wolong or Dujiangyan on the way to and from the panda location and our other destinations. This does not affect the time we have in the reserve, we have 5 full days and 2 half days dedicated to panda tracking.
Today we will make our way to Ruoergai, which is located on the edge of the vast Tibetan plateau, the drive will take around 9 hours and along the way we will try and spot some species of birds including larger species like eastern cattle egret, Himalayan griffon, Himalayan buzzard, northern goshawk and various smaller species including white-browed tit-babblers, Sichuan tit and azure-winged magpies. After we arrive we will check in and then head out to see what wildlife we can see on the grasslands. After dark we will start spotlighting as we drive around looking for wildlife including Chinese mountain cat, Pallas’s cat and Asiatic badger among others.
For the next two full days we will explore Ruoergai further, with diurnal species of note including red foxes, Tibetan foxes, plateau pikas, marmots (if they are awake from hibernation), Siberian roe deer, Asian badger and possible (but harder to spot) Tibetan gazelle and Tibetan wolf.
Vultures such as Himlayan griffon and lammergeyer are also possible around here. Both during the day and at night there is a wealth of wildlife to be seen here and we will spend as much time as possible exploring to find as much as possible. A good degree of flexibility in where and what we eat is key when looking for wildlife both here and in Tangjiahe as we look to maximise our chances of seeing as much as possible.
Rouergai / Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve
This morning will be our last chance for high altitude wildlife of the Tibetan plateau as we will depart and begin the drive to Tangjiahe (5-6 hours). Tangjiahe is a forested reserve and we will likely arrive there in the late afternoon and after dark we will have some spotlighting, there are many species that can be seen here including Chinese hog badger, Sichaun takin, Reeve’s muntjac, Himalayan palm civet, wild boar and northern leopard cat which can be seen at night.
We will likely to get our hotel in the night and have a dinner before going back out into the park for spotlighting.
Tangjiahe National Nature Reserve
Today is our last full day of wildlife watching and our only full day to explore the hillsides and forests of Tangjiahe. During the day we will be looking for wildlife such as squirrels, wild boar, Sichuan takins, Tibetan macaques and many species of birds, such as little forktails, brown dippers, crested kingfishers, black-throated tits and crested goshawks. One of our key targets here is the golden snub-nosed monkey. They used to be seen fairly regularly here, however last year they were only sighted on 25% of the trips here, but we will do what we can and March is a fairly good time for them.
We will also head our after dark and spotlight for other nocturnal species.
Chengdu / Home
This morning will be your final morning for wildlife watching and then after breakfast we will head out towards the city of Chengdu (6-7 hours), we recommend you to not book your return flights until late in the day or night or even better book the Chengdu Airport hotel for this night and then have your return flight for tomorrow. The hotel has free shuttle buses to the airport.
Please note that the itinerary stated above is correct as our planned intentions for the tour. However adverse weather conditions and other local considerations can necessitate some modifications of the itinerary during the course of the tour; any changes will be made to make the best of the time and weather conditions available to us.
This tour is available on different date (subject to availability) please contact us for more details about running this tour on a date which suits you more.
This tour can be booked in two different times of year (1) anytime between the middle of March and the middle of April (this is the breeding season of giant pandas and when they are more active) and (2) November, which is when the pandas move lower down the mountainsides to avoid the heavy snowfall, (subject to availability).
The weather will be variable as we are visiting some very different habitats, but in general it gets warmer and drier the later in spring you go and also in Autumn. When up on the plateau (Rouergai) the temperatures will be cold and snow is possible all year around. Our panda reserve can also be cold and rainy at any time of year.
Everything mentioned in the itinerary is included. Including three meals per day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), sometimes dinner and lunch are simple and taken in the field. There will be an amount of bottled water (approx 1ltr) available for each guest each day. We have our own private vehicle to be driven by a local guide for transfers when needed.
All our excursions including guided walks, vehicle safaris, permits, night safari fees and park entrance fees also included; we also include good quality optical equipment.
We recommend you bring along your own binoculars or spotting scope as well as appropriate clothing; which should be both light and durable walking clothes as well as very warm winter clothes, such as down jackets & trousers, walking socks, gloves, hats, scarfs, fleeces etc (particularly when traveling in early Spring. Broken in and comfortable, waterproof walking boots are essential. Any medication, books or other items of a personal nature is of course up to you to bring along. Oh and please bring plenty of memory cards or film for your camera.
We provide a comprehensive species list of all the vertebrates present in the areas we are visiting as well as some of the best field guides and reference books for the areas we are visiting. There is usually a spare pair of binoculars but in a group of 4 people these do not stretch too far. We also provide a spot light for nocturnal viewing (this is subject to local condition when we arrive).
Nearly everything is included in this tour. The only things not included are international flights, travel insurance (contact us for more information one what is required from your insurance policy), any food bought outside of the three main meals, drinks outside of any offered with the meals and the bottled water provided each day and any items of a personal nature such as souvenirs and tips. Any applicable departure taxes and not included (but maybe included in the cost of your flights). Please check before departure.
As we are based in Manchester we recommend flights from Manchester International Airport
We recommend KLM / China Southern Airlines as a good airlines for flights to Chengdu. One of the best websites to search for the best fares for these flights is www.odopo.co.uk; who are IATA accredited this is a link direct to their site. Please check our terms and conditions regarding booking flights.
Please contact us for more information about flights and we can provide you with a link direct to the flights from another supplier; in which case you only have to enter the passenger information and payment details. By using the above link you will leave our site and we at Royle Safaris hold no responsibility for the content on the site.
Visas and Health Information
All UK passport holders and most other nationalities are required to have a visa for China. These are only obtainable in advance from your local embassy or consulate. The easiest way to find information is by visiting the website of your local embassy or consulate or visa application centre. We will provide the bookings and itinerary needed for your visa application.
There are no mandatory vaccinations needed to visit China, but it is recommended to be protected against TB, polio, typhoid, tetanus and hepatitis A. Please consult your GP about your individual requirements for visiting Russia as soon as you have decided on this trip.
Reviews of this Holiday
Bobbie Borowski - Colorado, USA
Noel Jeannot - Charqumont, France
Monty Ross - Edmonton, Canada
some extent than initially planned depending on what we were experiencing in the various locations...we had some great and memorable sightings during this trip...we had an ecstatic observation of a mother giant panda with her young. Incredible! There were
very far away but we could see them superbly as they were resting on a big trunk in an open area in the forest!
Mr & Mrs. Marlin - France
Kate Beck - Swizterland
Dario Nessi - Switzerland
Peter Hobbs - California, USA
Bonnie Shirley - USA