Yangshuo

In this much-travelled world, it’s not easy to find a place which is so worthy of travel to, as is Yunnan & Tibet. These mystical places have the power to impress travelers very deeply. Yunnan boasts some of he most magical and diverse scenery in all of China. Half of China’s 55 ethnic minorities call this area home, from the industrious, blue-clothed Naxi of Lijiang to the often-elusive tribes of the southern border. Sitting in a valley on the Kyi-chu River, the historic districts of Lhasa still have a foot in the distant seventh century and it is here that traditional culture flourishes. We now invite you to join us on a fully escorted tour to Yunnan and Tibet in 2016.

Our tour departs from South Africa on 23 April 2016 and flies on SAA to Hong Kong and on to Guilin on DragonAir. We’ll spend two nights here to explore the Reed Flute Caves and the fabulous surrounding limestone karst scenery.

From Guilin we’ll cruise along the Li River through the unique limestone mountains to fabled Yangshuo. Set amongst glorious scenery, Yangshuo is a perfect base from which to explore the countryside, where we’ll still encounter strong local flavours.

We’ll travel back to Guilin to catch our flight to Kunming. Here we’ll have two nights with time to explore the Bamboo Temple and discover the limestone karst outcrop known as the Stone Forest. The journey to the forest is as beautiful as the landscape that surrounds it. Scattered around the stone forest are villages populated by the local ethnic minority, the Sani.

It’s a 4-hour drive from Kunming to Dali, home to the Bai minority. Here we will cruise on Erhai Lake and take a stroll in Dali Old Town. On our second day in Dali we’ll visit Xizhou, a gem of a Bai village, a must-see for architecture enthusiasts. Much of the original Bai architecture is still well-preserved. The village is exceptionally photogenic and the maze of little streets are a charming place to wander in.

From Dali, the itinerary continues north to Lijiang. Lijiang is a delightful warren of cobbled streets, rickety old wooden buildings, gushing canals and the hurly-burly of market life. It’s been the base of the Naxi minority for the past 1400 years. While in Lijiang, we’ll explore the Old Town, Baisha and Shuhe Naxi Villages and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, with its southern-most glacier in the Northern Hemisphere.

Travelling even further north to Shangri La on the border of Tibet, we’ll visit Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shigu Stone Drum Village en route. We’ll spend two days in Shangri La getting our first taste of the Buddhist monasteries of Tibet and we’ll experience local Tibetan hospitality when we lunch with a Tibetan family.

Thereafter, the group will proceed into Lhasa by air. Tibet is a land of stark, arid beauty, snow-capped mountains and centuries-old monasteries are pervaded by the smell of yak-butter lamps, the chanting of mantras by monks in saffron robes, and the prostrations of the pious. Faded, wind-torn prayer flags flutter from the roofs of whitewashed brick-and-mud homes. While the Chinese occupation remains an intrinsic and oppressive part of everyday life, the unwavering faith of the Tibetans gives them strength to protect their culture and heritage. We’ll have four exciting days in Lhasa to see the wonderful sights, the memories of which will remain with us forever. These include visits to Tibet’s iconic landmark, the Potala Palace, The Jokhang Temple, the Bharkhor Street, the Drepung and Sera monasteries, and Norbulinka Park, the old summer palace of the Dalai Lamas with its beautiful palaces, pavilions, gardens and ponds.

Our flight back to South Africa departs from Lhasa on 09 May 2016 to Hong Kong flying via Chengdu and arriving back in South Africa on 10 May 2016.

Liz Cotton will be accompanying the tour from South Africa and professional local English-speaking guides with an excellent knowledge of history and culture will be escorting the group through Yunnan and Guangxi Provinces of China and Tibet.

Space on this tour is limited to 17 participants. If you have any queries, or would like to secure your reservation on this once in a lifetime tour, please do not hesitate to contact me on email info@somersettours.co.za.

This is a very special and unique tour. Don’t miss this opportunity to visit Yunnan & Tibet.