For the past several years Jim has led a photo tour to China, and every year he changes the itinerary because there is so much to photograph here. In 2017, the tour is primarily devoted to some of the fascinating and unique wildlife endemic to China. You will love looking through a telephoto lens and seeing giant pandas, red pandas, and the incredible blue-faced golden monkeys. We also have an incredible shoot with a few hundred horses galloping through a dusty landscape herded by Mongolian riders in traditional attire. You will have the chance to photograph the beautiful, exotic architecture here and capture fantastic travel portraits of the very friendly people. We also have the opportunity to visit Xian and photograph the funerary art of the terra-cotta soldiers and horses buried with the first emperor of China more than 2000 years ago. This is an awesome itinerary.
DAY 1, Mon. Sept 4. Depart North America (or Europe) so you arrive in Shanghai, China on September 4. Don't forget that if you leave from North America, you will cross the International Dateline and lose one day on the calendar (returning home you gain it back). You will be met by a local agent with a placard bearing your name on it. If you want to arrive a day or two early, let Jim know and he will make the arrangements for you through his local guide. If you do arrive a day or more early (before Sept. 4), you will have the opportunity to photograph Shanghai, a city with perhaps the world's most impressive skyline, from a very unique vantage point. This evening at 6pm we have a welcome dinner and we'll discuss the upcoming tour. Jim will answer any questions you may have about photography or anything pertaining to trip. Overnight Shanghai Broadway Mansions Hotel **** Welcome D
DAY 2, Tue. Sept 5. This morning we transfer to the airport and fly to Xian. We then visit the largest tomb in the world consisting of approximately 8000 terra-cotta soldiers plus chariots and horses buried with the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, to protect him in the afterlife. This site was just discovered in 1974, and it dates from 210 BC.
Xi’an has over 3,000 years of recorded history and has been the capital of 12 dynasties. It was also the starting point of the Silk Road where camels were loaded for their long and perilous journey to Central Asia. Overnight Xian Time Tunnel Designer Boutique Hotel **** B, L, D
DAYS 3 - 5 , Wed. - Fri., Sept. 6 - 8. We travel by road for 5 hours today and spend two days capturing the antics of the golden monkeys with blue faces in the morning and the afternoon. They spend most of their time in trees so we'll get completely natural images. The interaction of the mothers and babies is adorable. The ideal lens is a zoom in the 100-400mm range, but at times the monkeys are very close and full frame portraits are possible. The monkeys share their habitat with the giant panda, the red panda, leopard, wild boar, crested ibis, and a diverse group of pheasants. Overnight Foping Panda Forest Hotel **** B, L, D
DAY 6, Sat., Sept. 9. After breakfast we return to Xian by road and fly to Chengdu and overnight in the Chengdu Airport Hotel.
DAY 7, Sun., Sept. 10. We drive to the panda reserve in Dujiangyan and have a whole day to observe and photograph the giant pandas in a natural setting. The pandas we see are from very young to mature, and they are among the easiest animals to photograph because most of the time they pose for the camera. Capture them in the trees, eating on the ground, and playing. Their antics span the gamut from cute to comical, and you'll love this close encounter with such a unique and beautiful animal. Again, a 100-400mm or 80-400mm lens is ideal to take environmental shots as well as closeup portraits.
The giant panda is an endangered animal found only in western China. Because of human encroachment, the panda’s habitat is now reduced to six isolated patches mainly in Sichuan. There are an estimated 1000-1500 wild pandas living in the mountains in the rim of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Bamboo is the main source of food for pandas and arrow bamboo is their favorite. Bamboo is a poor source of nutrition, so they eat as much as 38kg a day. One reason why the habitat range of the pandas is limited is because they only eat specific species of bamboo found within their home range, and the areas are becoming progressively smaller. The lifespan of pandas in the wild is unknown, but pandas in captivity live 14 to 20 years.
At the end of the day we drive 1 1/2 hours back to Chengdu. Overnight Chengdu Panda Garden Crowne Plaza Hotel ***** B, L, D
DAY 8, Mon., Sept. 11. After breakfast we visit the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding to photograph the beautiful red pandas. Unlike their giant cousins, these guys move quickly as they negotiate tree branches and romp on the ground. You'll have a lot of fun, though, because they are entertaining to watch and they make great subjects. We may also be lucky to see and photograph very young giant pandas.
In the evening we fly to Beijing and overnight in the Beijing CITIC Airport Hotel **** B, L, D
DAY 9, Tue., Sept. 12 This is mostly a travel day. We have a long drive (7 hours) to the Bashing Plateau, but it's worth it. Your pictures of Mongolian riders herding horses, rarely seen by Western tourists, will be amazing. Overnight Bashang Friendship Hotel** B, L, D
DAY 10 - 12, Wed. - Fri., Sept. 13 -15. We have three days to photograph incredible scenes as if we were witnesses to the era of Ghenis Khan. Mongolian riders in traditional attire herd 300 horses over a dramatic landscape, and the horses and riders are engulfed in dust kicked up by the galloping herd. It's a stunning photo opportunity, and we will do it several times to make sure everyone gets the best possible pictures. We will also get closeup portraits of the riders, and we'll photograph this event in the best light available. The unique landscape also offers great images at sunrise and sunset. Overnight Bashang Friendship Hotel ** B, L, D
DAY 13, Sat., Sept. 16. After a sunrise photo session, we return to Beijing today, and we will photograph a Chinese opera performance. Overnight at the Beijing Sino Swiss Airport Hotel **** (B, L, D)
DAY 14, Sun. Sept. 17. We transfer this morning to the airport by a hotel shuttle for our international flight home, knowing that we've seen and photographed amazing subjects in this unique photo tour of China.
Tour cost: $5950: includes all lodging based on double room occupancy, all meals as noted in the itinerary, all ground transportation including airport transfers, all admissions and activity expenses as noted in the itinerary, domestic airport taxes, and drinking water.
Domestic airfare: $590
Single supplement: $595
Not included: International airfare, items of a personal nature, mini-bar, laundry, alcoholic beverages, travel insurance, AEA/SOS evacuation coverage ($25 per person required by China), excursions not included in the itinerary