Skip to navigation, or go to main content.

WINGS Birding Tours – Information

China: Sichuan

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING CHINA: United States citizens will need a passport valid for at least six months from date of departure and a tourist visa to enter China. Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Chinese embassy or http://www.china-embassy.org. If required by the embassy or visa-granting entity, WINGS can provide a letter for you to use regarding your participation in the tour.

COUNTRY INFORMATION: You can review the U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information at http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/country/china.html and the CIA World Factbook background notes on China at  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ch.html.

CLIMATE: In Chengdu it will be hot and fairly humid. On the lower slopes of Longchang Gou it will be similarly hot but significantly more humid. Temperatures at both areas will typically reach up to 25-34°C (77-90°F) by midday. It will be cooler and less humid higher in the mountains where some of the early mornings can even be cold, perhaps dropping as low as minus 4°C (25°F) if the skies are clear. Rain is common in Sichuan throughout the year.

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: This is not an easy, relaxing tour. There is a reasonable amount of travelling and many of the days are long and tiring. Many of the trails that we will walk on are steep and while we’ll walk slowly we are still at altitude and it is easy to become tired. A reasonable degree of fitness is essential. Due to early morning bird activity we will want to be out in the field early each day. This will often mean being out at 5:00am and having a picnic breakfast in the field.

HEALTH:  The  Centers  for  Disease  Control  and Prevention (CDC) are  currently  recommending the  following for travelers to China:  Hepatitis A or immune globulin (IG); typhoid, particularly if you are visiting developing countries in this region, and as needed, booster doses for tetanus-diphtheria and measles, and a one-time dose of polio for adults. Please see your doctor at least 4–6 weeks before your trip to allow time for shots to take effect.

Advisories and recommendations by agencies such as the CDC frequently change. We urge you to consult your physician, local health department, or the CDC for the most up-to-date health advisories for travel to China. You can check with the CDC online at: www.cdc.gov/travel/index.htm.

Altitude: Our tour is operated at quite high altitude and we will spend considerable amounts of time above 3,500 meters or 11,000 feet and we’ll reach 4500 meters (14,764 feet).  When at such high altitudes we will attempt to limit our activities, try to avoid excessively walking up hill and will move at a fairly slow pace so as to avoid altitudinal headaches. Most altitudinal problems can be overcome by sitting quietly in or near the vehicle and drinking plenty of fluids. There will be oxygen available in at least one of the vehicles.

Insects: Biting insects are not numerous although mosquitoes are present in small numbers at a few sites.

Leeches:  On some of the forest trails during the early part of the tour we may encounter a very few small terrestrial leeches.

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail.

Food Allergies / Requirements:  We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions.

ACCOMMODATION: The hotels at Maerkang, Hongyuan, Ruoergai at Jiuzhaigou and in Chengdu at the end of the tour are of a good, international standard with en suite bathrooms, proper restaurants and other facilities that you would normally expect such as gift shops in the lobby and in room facilities for making international phone calls etc.

Elsewhere on the tour we will stay in a variety of adequate hotels and guesthouses, all with at least a private bathroom with western toilet, wash basin and shower. In keeping with many Chinese non-city hotels, there is rarely any hot water before 7:30 p.m. at the earliest. On occasion we may find that the showers and toilets don’t work properly and we may be restricted to washing with cold water or using hot water from the thermos flasks that are provided.

FOOD: The Chinese way of eating differs from that in the west in that those sitting at the table share selections of different dishes. Food is almost always plentiful. Few of the restaurants we’ll visit provide knives and forks. Instead chopsticks, often disposable wooden ones, are used.

In contrast to evening meals typical Chinese breakfasts are disappointingly poor and unappealing to most westerners.  They  consist  mostly  of  cold  dishes   –  soy  milk,  steamed  dumplings  and  rice  porridge. Consequently, away from the international style hotels in Chengdu, Wolong, Jiuzhaigou and Beijing where a variety of more western style dishes are available, we will have very few hotel breakfasts opting instead to have picnic breakfasts. These will usually consist of items such as instant noodles, biscuits, chocolate, fruit, peanuts, bread and jam (where bread is available). On quite a few days we will also have picnic lunches and these will consist of similar items.

INTERNET AND WIFI: As you would expect an ever increasing number of hotels that we use have internet access. The hotel at the base of Longchang Gou does not have wifi anywhere, nor does our hotel near Ya’an. The hotel in Luding has wifi in the rooms, as do the hotels in Maerkang, Hongyuan, Ruoergai, Jiuzhaigou and back in Chengdu. Several of these currently also have cable internet in the rooms. Participants should be aware, however, that internet access is occasionally suspended in China – perhaps because of floods, landslides or political issues. Mobile phone coverage is superb over most of China and, while not all foreign mobile operators have agreements with the Chinese carriers, many do. You are advised to contact your mobile phone provider in advance of the trip to confirm this.

TRANSPORTATION:  Transportation throughout is  by  minibus. Tour operator’s vehicles  are  not  allowed  inside Jiuzhaigou National Park so instead we will have to use a park minibus, or a series of park taxis.

Updated: 03 July 2017