Natural Habitat Adventures has announced a new panda-focused itinerary for 2018 departures of The Wild Side of China: A Nature Odyssey. Guests will experience even more panda encounters on a fourth in-depth visit to China’s famed giant panda research and breeding bases.
The itinerary also has two more additions including a chance to observe and photograph golden monkeys up close at a nature reserve in the Minshan Mountains, plus a visit to the famous Terracotta Army in Xi’an. This 12-day adventure offers a more nature-intensive itinerary, backed by the expertise of Natural Habitat Adventures, along with its partner in conservation travel, World Wildlife Fund.
The upgraded itinerary now includes four separate visits to three of China’s panda research, rehabilitation and breeding centers. These sites in Sichuan Province are part of China’s efforts to increase the panda population. Natural Habitat Adventures guests will get to observe pandas at close range and learn about their care and conservation.
At Dujiangyan Panda Base, guests have the chance to volunteer with aspects of the pandas' care, like helping to prepare their food, clean enclosures and engage in other tasks that place them directly into the daily activities of the pandas' caregivers.
Guests will also get to explore native wild panda habitat. Natural Habitat Adventures holds permits to enter remote sectors of a nature reserve within the Minshan Mountains, an area home to endangered wildlife.
At another nature reserve new to the revamped 2018 itinerary, guests enjoy close-up viewing of a large habituated family troop of golden snub-nosed monkeys, an endangered species native to a limited part of central and southwest China.
The trip also includes a full-day visit to Jiuzhaigou national park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and UN Biosphere Reserve, that includes walks along the scenic boardwalks through a high mountain valley. Then, guests will head Xi’an to visit the famous Terracotta Warriors. The site consists of 8,000 life-size soldiers, 100 chariots and 600 horses.
The itinerary also includes a trip across the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in northwestern Sichuan, an area populated with Tibetan villages, prayer wheels, chortens and colorful prayer flags. While dining in the home of a Tibetan family, guests gain insights into the traditional culture.
The per-person double rate, excluding international airfare, is $10,995. The gateway is Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province. Nine departures are scheduled in 2018.
All trips are accompanied by a North American NHA Expedition Leader plus a native Chinese naturalist guide for a better understanding of the area and its culture. Optional extensions to Beijing and the Great Wall, or an extra day in Chengdu, can be arranged.