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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

China: The Southeast in Winter

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 with at least two blank pages for entry and exit stamps. A tourist visa is also required to enter China.

Citizens of other countries may need a visa and should check their nearest Chinese embassy. 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

PACE OF TOUR AND DAILY ROUTINE: There is a reasonable amount of travelling between one site and the next and a couple of the days are long and tiring. However at this time of year the days are fairly short (the sun rises on average at about 7:00 am and sets at about 5:15 pm) and consequently the time we spend in the field is  limited. Even so we’ll leave our accommodation between 5:30 am and 6:15 am.  We’ll have picnic breakfasts and picnic lunches in the field most days.  We will return to our accommodation for all of our evening meals. 

We aim to provide dawn-to-dusk birding for those who want it, and at least some opportunities to opt out for those who wish to pursue other interests or simply relax. 

HEALTH: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all travelers be up to date on routine vaccinations. These include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, polio vaccine, and your yearly flu shot. 

They further recommend that most travelers have protection against Hepatitis A and Typhoid. 

Please contact your doctor well in advance of your tour’s departure as some medications must be initiated weeks before the period of possible exposure. 

The most current information about travelers’ health recommendations can be found on the CDC’s  Travel Health website at http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/traveler/none/china?s_cid=ncezid-dgmq-travel-single-001

Note: At the current time no health certificates are required to enter China.   

Miscellaneous: Very few biting insects are active in South China in winter, but there still may be isolated concentrations of day-flying mosquitoes at one or two sites. We recommend that you bring an insect repellent and, if you are sensitive to bites, an antihistamine.

Tap water is not safe to drink anywhere in China. Bottled water and soft drinks are widely available and your room will normally be supplied either with a large thermos flask of boiled water or a kettle with which you can make tea or coffee. We provide bottled water in the vehicle during the day. 

Weather: It is cold in South China in winter. Please make sure that you bring sufficient warm clothes and suitable footwear (see the section in these notes on clothing). 

Smoking:  Smoking is not allowed in the vehicle, nor at meal times or when the group is gathered together for the checklist. If you are sharing a room with a non-smoker, please don’t smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, please stand down wind of the group.. If any lodge, accommodation or location where the group is staying or is gathered has a more restrictive smoking policy than WINGS’ policy, the more restrictive policy will prevail.  

Note: None of the hotels that we’ll use have designated non-smoking rooms so the rooms we use might have been previously occupied by a smoker. While the bed linen will certainly be clean, cigarette odours in the bed rooms are fairly common. 

CLIMATE: The weather in South China is typically quite sunny and typically dry from October through to the end of January. Temperatures at Poyang Hu and Yancheng are likely to be cold, especially at night. It is likely to be slightly warmer at the sites that we will visit around Shanghai, and especially near Fuzhou. Early morning temperatures for much of the tour will normally be around 40°F, rising to a maximum of about 55° midday, and possibly as high as 63°F near Fuzhou. However, it can be colder than this, especially in the hills near Wuyuan and near the coast at Yancheng NNR, and we should be prepared for early morning temperatures to occasionally drop into the low 20s. It is important to remember that it can feel much colder if the wind is blowing.

In southern China in winter the humidity can be quite high, and unfortunately there is a reasonable chance of early morning fog at Poyang Hu. There is also a reasonable chance of rain at some time during the tour, and again this is perhaps most likely around Poyang Hu. 

ACCOMMODATION:  We will spend the first two nights of the tour in a three-star hotel in Changle. This hotel is close to the birding in the Minjiang Estuary. All the rooms are clean and warm and all have private bathrooms with western toilets and showers. From there we’ll go to central Fuzhou city where our hotel is of a very similar standard to the one at Changle.  We’ll spend the next two nights in Wuyuan in another three-star hotel. Once again all the rooms have private bathroom facilities including a western toilet and shower, and once again the rooms are clean and warm.  After Wuyuan, we will transfer to a hotel near Poyang Hu NNR. The three-star hotel there has recently been refurbished is the best in the area and is once again of a reasonable standard – all the rooms are clean and warm, and each has a television and private bathroom facilities including a shower and western toilet. We’ll spend three nights there. 

Moving north of Shanghai, we will spend one night in a comfortable four-star hotel in Nantong. This hotel, like the one we will use on our very last night near the international airport in Shanghai is of a high standard. After Nantong, we will continue north to Yancheng NNR. Here we will stay in a hotel in Yancheng town and again the hotel is three star standard. All the rooms are warm and have privatebathrooms with western toilets and showers.   

Internet and WiFi: Wired broadband internet is available in the rooms of our hotels in Changle,  Wuyuan, near Poyang Hu and in Nantong.  WiFi is still less common in mainland China and the only places it’s available on our tour are in our Shanghai and Nantong hotels and in both the domestic and international airports in Shanghai, the airport in Nanchang and at certain places, often just the lobby, of our hotels in Fuzhu and near Poyang Hu. Please note that a modest number of western websites, such as Facebook and the Google search engine, are actively blocked by the Chinese government. 

FOOD: Western food will be available only in our hotel in Shanghai. In the more remote areas, we will of course be eating Chinese food which on the evidence of past visits is often excellent. Green tea and soft drinks, mineral water or beer are served with the main meals. Chinese breakfasts are typically unpopular with Western tourists, and we will usually have picnic breakfasts provided by our ground agent. In the past, these have consisted of items such as western cereals, milk, fruit (often bananas, oranges and apples), yoghurt, chocolate bars such as Snickers, packets of instant coffee (normally with milk and sugar already included since “untainted” coffee is less widely available), tea, packets of muffins, rice crackers, and biscuits. We also expect to be having quite a number of picnic lunches eaten out in the field. These lunches consist of many of the same items, often supplemented by boiled eggs, instant noodles, peanuts and sometimes boiled potatoes. On a few occasions where fresh bread is available, we will also have jam, peanut butter, cheese and/or ham sandwiches. 

All evening meals will be taken in our hotels. The Chinese way of eating differs from the western way; a selection of different dishes are shared by those sitting at the same table and chopsticks are used. Food is almost always plentiful. Outside Shanghai, few if any of the restaurants we will visit provide knives and forks. Instead chopsticks, often disposable wooden ones, are used. If you are not used to eating with chopsticks, we suggest you start practicing right away or bring your own cutlery. WINGS tours are all-inclusive, and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. 

 Drinks: Bottled water and/or a soft drink or a beer is provided at lunch and dinner, as is coffee or tea. All other drinks or  ”personal” drinking water for use in your room, etc., are the responsibility of the individual. Bottled water will be provided during the day in our tour vehicles. 

TRANSPORTATION: Transportation is by small bus, small boats in the Minjiang Estuary and again at Poyang Hu, and we will also have three internal flights. Some of the minibus rides may last for up to five hours, but we will, of course, make regular stops along the way to stretch and to bird watch. While most road journeys will be made along paved roads, in some areas the roads will be rougher. This is especially true of some of the minor roads around Wuyuan and at Poyang Hu. 

We will explore a variety of sites in Poyang Hu NNR by boat. Individual boat journeys might last for up to two hours; we will charter the entire boat and will normally keep it for the entire day.

The flights that we will be taking on Chinese airlines are of an international standard. 

The leader will arrange a seating rotation in the buses that we will use and participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles.

Updated: 15 March 2015