WildChina has always had a knack for predicting the next hot destination in China–for better or for worse. We were the first to pioneer journeys to Yubeng village in Meili Snow Mountain in 1999 and among the first to bring international guests to Shaxi in 2002– and now the town is charging an entrance fee to walk in the village! We continue to explore, and our Founder Zhang Mei has spent a lot of time recently exploring and trekking in the Gaoligong Mountains. Are Gaoligong and Tengchong the next big thing? We asked Mei.
WildChina Travel: What’s special about Gaoligong?
Zhang Mei: It is a hidden treasure of Yunnan. Although Gaoligong was originally a nature preserve, it has recently been named a National Park. The location is unique–at a latitude of 24.57 degrees it’s not only quite far south, but also includes peaks with summits as high as 5,128 meters over a very skinny stretch of land. As you can imagine such sudden elevation creates incredible biodiversity. After only a short walk, one can start to see gibbons and flying squirrels. In addition, the rangers are incredibly knowledgeable and friendly. This has been my best wilderness experience in China to date.
WCT: What do you do while you are there?
Mei: There are hiking trails all over the mountain range. My favorite activity is traversing the mountain along the ancient Southern Silk Road. The hike begins near a small ranger station called Baihualing, 2 hours north of Baoshan airport. When we arrived, we enjoyed a delicious local lunch with fantastic fresh produce–wild mushrooms, fresh berries and other treasures from the mountain. After finishing this relaxing meal, we headed off on a short 5k hike through the rare tropical forest. The highlight of this hike is the stop at a remote wild hot spring for a dip in the water. For ornithologists out there, Baihualing is usually a terrific spot.
The next morning, we eat breakfast and then head off. The trail is both winding and timeless with much the feel of a Japanese garden. Everywhere there are Big rocks, ferns, rhododendrons, bamboo, and even bird’s nests. I feel this is one of the most beautiful trails to hike in China.
When we reach the highest pass – Nan Zhaigongfang- around 1pm I rangers prepared a simple meal of rice and vegetable soup. After some hot tea and coffee, the Tengchong side is downhill all the way. On the western side of the mountain, there are historical sites of bunkers and trenches from WWII to visit.
At the trailhead, WildChina’s operations department arranged for a prompt pickup and we spent the night relaxing in a nice hotel in Tengchong.The whole hike is 8-10 hours for a fit hiker. A long day, but absolutely lovely.
WCT: How do you travel there?
Mei: The hike requires a permit from the Nature Reserve, which is WildChina’s operating partner. We have the ability to put all the details together to create a memorable trip for our clients so we hope you’ll stay tuned!
If you are looking to see other places in China + Yunnan, WildChina suggests taking a look at Chinese Treasures, a 13-day set group departure. If this is your first and only chance to visit China, then this is the trip. Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai present the classic images of China – imperial palaces stand side by side with skyscrapers. Beautiful Yunnan province in the southwest, known for its ethnic diversity, traditional lifestyles and stunning natural scenery, forms a contrast to the developed parts of China. $4,850 (excluding domestic airfare, with set departures on Sep 3-15 | Oct 12-24 this year.
Questions about Yunnan travel? Please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We look forward to hearing from you.
Photos by: Roger Peng