This extravagant itinerary covers a vast area of China, and one that we had originally had set for 2020, though due to Covid-19 had to be abandoned at the last-minute. We are extremely excited to be able to offer this itinerary once again. It's a mouth-watering list of some of China's most iconic endemics, with a smattering of wintering delights, before we end up in the treasure trove of Yunnan, where a whole raft of Himalayan and Sino-Himalayan species are at our finger tips as we utilise the immense hide system that has been set-up by ex-poachers who have used their skills to now show us all the best birds of Yunnan.
The list of species is exhaustive, but simply put, the showcase birds include: Siberian Accentor, Reeves's Pheasant, Crested Ibis, Siberian, Hooded and White-naped Cranes, Swan Goose, Oriental Stork, Scaly-sided Merganser, Hainan endemics, Nonggang Babbler, Brown-winged Parrotbill, Grey Peacock-pheasant, Red-tailed, Moustached, Biet's, Spot-breasted Laughingthrushes, White-cheeked Partridge, Grey-bellied Wren Babbler, and ending with Yunnan Nuthatch. It is a truly special itinerary with meticulously planned, and also avoids as much overlap as possible with other China tours, so you can be rest assured of never a dull moment here!
Arrival into Beijing International Airport (PEK). Night in Beijing.
Morning drive out of Beijing and into the mountains that skirt the westernised of the city. Afternoon birding the cold, snowbound slopes for Siberian Accentor, Pallas's, Long-tailed and Chinese Beautiful Rosefinches, Red-throated Thrush, Naumann's Thrush, and other wintering migrants, which could also include Asian Rosy Finch and White-winged Redstart. Resident species usually present include Perennial David's Laughingthrush, Hill Pigeon, Oriental Magpie, Silver-throated Tit, Beijing Babbler and Godlewski's Bunting. Night at Linggshan.
Full morning on-site, searching primarily for Siberian Accentor, thrushes and rosefinches, before driving back to Beijing to connect with an early evening flight to Wuhan, followed by a 90-minute drive to Dongzhai National Nature Reserve. Night near Dongzhai NNR.
Full day birding inside Dongzhai NNR. Our primary focus here is to observe Reeves's Pheasant, possibly the finest Galliform! Using a feeding station we hope to see a male, though they can be elusive, even here. In addition, Crested Ibis has been reintroduced here, which we should see, along with Crested Kingfisher, Collared Crow, Masked Laughingthrush, Naumann’s Thrush and wintering buntings can include Rustic and Yellow-browed. Night at Dongzhai NNR.
Morning travelling through to Nanchang, and onto Poyang Lake for afternoon birding. Poyang is renowned for it's density of wintering waterbirds, and is the sole wintering area now for Siberian Crane. This is not our only target however, as Hooded and White-naped Cranes also winter here, along with Swan Goose, Oriental Stork, Brown Crake, Marsh Grassbird, Rustic, Ochre-rumped and Yellow-browed Buntings with slim chances of Baer's Pochard and Lesser White-fronted Goose. Night near Poyang Lake.
Full day at Poyang Lake looking for all the species mentioned on the previous afternoon. Night at Poyang Lake.
Morning at Poyang Lake for any remaining species we may have before driving south to Wuyuan after lunch. Night in Wuyuan.
Main target here is Scaly-sided Merganser along the river that flows through Wuyuan - several of you might already have visited the town in May to see Courtois's Laughingthrush, which are hiding in the distant hills in the winter. Other possibilities here include Mandarin Duck, Moustached Laughingthrush, Brown Crake and Yellow-browed Bunting. In the afternoon we transfer to Nanchang and on to Sanya, situated on the south coast of tropical Hainan.
Following breakfast, we drive to Jianfengling (2-3 hours), arriving for lunch, followed by afternoon birding for our first Hainan endemics. Night at Jianfengling.
Two full days inside Jianfengling National Nature Reserve. Our targets here include the Hainan endemics; Hainan Leaf Warbler, 'Swinhoe's Laughingthrush, likely split from Black-throated, chance of Hainan Partridge and even slimmer chance of Hainan Peacock-pheasant. In addition to the endemics, we look for Chinese Barbet, Rufous-cheeked Laughingthrush, Yellow-billed Nuthatch and the Hainan races of Pale Blue Flycatcher and Fork-tailed Sunbird, both of which are quite distinct. Nights at Jianfengling.
Early morning flight from Sanya to Nanning then drive to Nonggang NNR (3-hour drive), possibly in time for some birding. Night outside Nonggang NNR.
A day inside Nonggang NNR in search of Nonggang Babbler, a species only described in 2008, known from just here and the surrounding limestone karst forest bordering Vietnam. Birding here is otherwise surprisingly quiet, other species can include White-winged Magpie, Indochinese Green Magpie, Limestone Leaf Warbler, Blue-rumped Pitta, Streaked Wren Babbler and Buff-breasted Babbler. We then drive back to Nanning (3 hours) in the evening. Night in Nanning.
A travel day, as we head into Yunnan, and finish up very close to the Myanmar border in preparation for the following days action.
We divide our time between two areas, including the Gaoligongshan range, splitting our time between birding along the trails and spending time in photographic hides. The hides gives us outstanding views of a large variety of laughingtheushes including Red-tailed, Blue-winged, Scaly, Chestnut-crowned and Striated, as well as Rufous-throated and Hill Partridges, chance of Mrs Hume's Pheasant and several other more familiar classic Asian montane species. Inside the forest, we should see a wide variety of species, but a few jewels in the crown are possible, including Gould's Shortwing, Grey-bellied Wren Babbler, Cachar Wedge-billed Babbler and Slender-billed Scimitar Babbler. A visit to a lowland site could even produce Blue-naped and Rusty-naped Pittas, along with Grey Peacock-pheasant and Spot-breasted Laughingthrush.
A long dive north, to the Lijiang area of northern Yunnan. Night near Lijiang.
A day birding in the scrub and conifers around the old town of Lijiang for an array of range-restricted species; Yunnan Nuthatch, Moupinia, Black-browed Bushtit, Brown-winged Parrotbill and Black-headed Greenfinch are the main targets, with slim chances of both Biet's Laughingthrush, Lady Amherst's Pheasant and Giant Nuthatch. In the evening we fly to Chengdu, where the tour ends, with international departures from Chengdu International Airport (CTU).
Please note: we will be offering the following extension, cost and confirmation depends on number of participants, please indicate to us if either are of interest:
Day 1 of the tour would be devoted to visiting coastal mudflats a few hours from Beijing solely for this species. Departure would be pre-dawn, so either directly from airport, or you can arrive the previous evening.
Brown Eared Pheasant
Arriving two days earlier means that visiting the Brown Eared Pheasants near Taiyuan Airport, outside of Beijing is possible. Do let us know if it's of interest.
Deposit: £ 500 or $ 700
Single room supplement:
£ TBC or $ 570
Maximum group size: 8
Tour cost includes: all accommodation, main meals, internal flights (as stated in itinerary), overland transport, entrance fees, drinking water, tips to local drivers and guides, and guide fees.
Tour cost excludes: International flights and departure taxes, visa, travel insurance, drinks, tips to tour guides, and other items of a personal nature.
Please note: we will provide you with an invitation letter for visa application.
Accommodation: comfortable twin-bed, and single rooms, all with private facilities.
Walking difficulty: generally easy throughout, with a lot of time scanning. At least four days spent above 2,000m, but no higher than 3,500m.
Expected number of species: 300+ species.
Number of endemics or range-restricted species: A large number of species realistically only available on this tour.