Mt. Meili Trekking Adventure

Highlights:

  • Hike and explore the majestic and mysterious Meili Snow Mountain, which is regarded as the holiest mountain in all of Tibetan Buddhism
  • Wander and walk among traditional local villages, and experience their customs and lifestyle
  • Spend time in Shangri-la, a place once thought to only be a fantastic legend, but actually a true and real paradise on earth

(B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)

Detailed itinerary:

Day 1 arrive in Kunming

You will fly to Kunming International Airport, and upon arrival you’ll be met by your English-speaking guide. Kunming is the capital of southwest China's Yunnan province, a primarily agricultural province of 45 million. Kunming has a population of five million and is located in one of the world's most geographically, ethnically, biologically and linguistically diverse regions. Situated at 1,900 meters (6,233ft) above sea level and 25° north of the Equator it has a rather unique and pleasant climate for a Chinese city. Kunming is also well known as the Spring City because of its nice climate all year round. After arrival you will be taken to your hotel to unpack and refresh yourself before we venture out for some sightseeing.

We’ll get started on the day’s activities with a trip to the Stone Forest. It will take between 1-2 hours to drive there because it is 86km from the city. Being one of the National Scenic Resorts in China, the Stone Forest Scenic Resort has a complete range of karst formations. Among the most wonderful attractions in this area are the following eight scenic spots: Large & Small Stone Forests, Naigu Stone Forests, Large & Small Zhiyun Caves, Qingfeng Cave, Long Lake, Moon Lake, Fairy Lake, Feilong Falls. Standing upright in the Stone Forest are innumerable cliffs and peaks, lofty and majestic, steep and precipitous, charming and enchanting.

From afar, it really looks like a dense forest but as you walk closer, you will find "trees" are all slender stone pinnacles. The sight is vast covering some 350 kilometers. The Yi and Sani ethnic group who live there are hardworking and good at singing and dancing. Their folklore and culture are colorful and multifarious, backed up by a long history.

we’ll relax a bit by taking a walk through Green Lake. Green Lake (Cuihu) is Kunming's answer to Central Park in New York. Lined with willows, the lake is gorgeous, crisscrossed by small arched bridges in imitation of Hangzhou's more famous West Lake. The best season is winter, when days are warm and sunny and the large flocks of "Laughing Gulls" with their cackling cries as they arrive from their breeding grounds in Siberia. The gulls enjoy the legendary "eternal spring" weather in Kunming.

For the night, you have the option of trying your hand at local shopping at the city market. The flower markets in Shangyi Street are quite famous. The florists there sell their wares by weight, so one can buy as little as a single rose. There is a flower & bird market in Jingxing Street, with numerous market stalls and shops run by ethnic minorities where one can buy all manner of ethnic handicrafts, including flowers and even live birds. Kunming is renowned for its handicrafts such as ivory carvings, wood carvings, Burmese jade and other stone items. The food specialty shops of Kunming also offer many unique food and health-food items (aka Medicinal Foodstuffs) that are not available elsewhere in China, including tropical fruits.

Day 2 Kunming-Shangri-La

Early in the morning you will be taken to Kunming International Airport where you will fly on to Shangri-La, located in the northwest region of Yunnan. The name Shangri-la was made famous by the English author James Hilton in his legendary novel "Lost Horizon" where he described a fictitious paradise. However, there is a real Shangri-la in China's southwest Yunnan Province. It is a beautiful land characterized by snow-capped mountains, vast grasslands, idyllic lakes and religious culture. It is a "Utopia" free from stress, pollution and turmoil that plagues most of the cities where we live.

Shangri-La, at the far north of Yunan province bordering Sichuan and Tibet province was a crucial staging point on the ancient Tea-horse Road. The region first became a trade town during the Qing Dynasty and gradually rose as one prosperous business center on the Tibet-Yunnan trading passage. Caravans from South Asia carried horses, carpets, herbs etc through Lhasa, Tibet to Shangri-la to exchange tea and other local products to return.

Upon arrival in Shangri-La you’ll be met by your guide, and you’ll be taken to do some sightseeing. Our first stop will be the Songzanlin Monastery. Being the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery in Yunnan, Songzanlin Monastery, also known as Guihua Monastery, is one of the famous monasteries in the Kang region. The monastery is located near Shangri -La County, at the foot of Foping Mountain.

Construction of the monastery began in 1679 and was completed two years later. The monastery seems like a group of ancient castles and is composed of two lamaseries, Zhacang and Jikang. The gilded copper roof endows the monastery with strong Tibetan features and the 108 (an auspicious number in Buddhism) columns downstairs also feature the monastery with characteristics of Han nationality. The main halls in the monastery are magnificent, and on both the left and the right sides are wonderful frescos, depicting Buddhist tales and legends. The inside-halls are exquisite with cloisters running through. The cloisters are all decorated with beautiful sculptures and consummate frescos.

Afterwards we’ll head to the Old Town of Shangri-la (known as the Jiantang Old Town), which contain bazaars and markets. The Jiantang Old Town contains hefty Tibetan wooden buildings (some old, and many that look rather older than they are), and several temples built onto a hill in the centre of town. Next we’ll go over to Guishan Park, a lovely preserve with a temple one top that gives you a sweeping panoramic view of the entire city.

Day 3 Shangri-La-Cizong-Deqin

Following breakfast we will drive for about an hour to the village of Cizhong in order to visit the Cizhong Christian Church, which was built by French missionaries in the last century. The Cizhong Church is one of the few churches in Tibet that survived the Cultural Revolution. The church, built at the beginning of the 20th century, is a unique fusion of French and Chinese architectural styles. The overhanging eaves and roof of the church are Chinese style, while the cross on top is Western style. The Cizhong municipal government repaired the church in 1989 and then opened it to the public.

We will then drive on to the town of Deqin and nearby the town is Feilasi Temple. It has a legend that the temple was built by one Sakyamuni Buddha who flying to here from Tibet. It is the place for Tibetans to pay homage to the sacred mountains and it is said that circumambulators must get the key in Qidengge. Circumambulators who are in inside circumambulation must get the key in Yongzongbajiu Temple at the bank of Lancang River besides the key in Qidengge. In recent years, Buddhist activities of various kinds are all held at the Wulongding Culture Square and Feilaisii Temple.

We’ll spend the night in a local hostel near the Feilaisi Temple, and if the weather is good enough, we’ll get a good view of all 13 peaks of Meili Snow Mountain.

Day 4 Mt. Meili Trekking (20km of hiking)

After watching the sunrise over Mt. Meili we’ll begin our trekking by driving to our base camp in the village of Xidang. Today’s hiking will be long and hard, so be prepared for a very physical day. It is a holy place of pilgrimage for Tibetan Buddhists and the first of the eight great divine mountains in Tibetan region. To local Tibetans, Mount Kang Karbo (Mt. Meilie’s main peak), is the residence of their guardian deity and they believe that once the mountain is scaled by man, the God will leave, and without the God’s blessing, disasters will happen. At 1930s, the American scholar Rock advanced into the Meli Mountains and was attracted by the enchanting beauty of Mount Kang Karbo, describing it as the most beautiful snow mountain in the world.

The path zigzagging under the canopy of trees is quite damp and muddy. A Tibetan house, located at one-third of the route, sells snacks and drinks. A breathtaking view can be spotted at Nazongla Pass. Once we reach the summit we will have ourselves a picnic lunch, and if we’re in the early spring, there still may be some snow on the ground.

We will then begin our descent to the village of Yubeng where we’ll spend the night. Yubeng Village is a beautiful and miraculous place. When walking in the village, tourists will have a sense of walking at Shangri-la. Located at the back of the Meli Snow Mountains, it is surrounded by mountains. Because of its unique location, there are only 20 households living here and connects outside world only with one small road. Yubeng Village is divided into upper village and lower village. From upper village, tourists can go to the base camp of the Joint Sino-Japanese,while from the lower village, tourists can go to Yubeng Waterfall, Ancient Seal Character and other scenic spots.

The descent from Nazongla Pass to the upper Yubeng Village takes about 2 hours. Upon arriving at the village, we’ll take the trail turning to the left, walk further down to a stream, cross a bridge and climb a small slope up to the lower Yubeng Village. At the end of the village, you can find Aqinbu's Shenpu Lodge, where we’ll be spending the night.

Day 5 Yubeng-Mt. Meili base camp-Yubeng(16km of hiking)

In the morning, we will hike up to the Kawa Karpo Mountaineering base camp, starting with a climb up to the mountain pass through its virgin forests, and we’ll see many of the dead woods along the way. After enjoying the panoramic view from the mountain pass, we’ll walk down a horse road and reach the base camp. This base camp is where the daring adventurers of yesteryear would embark on their climb up Kawa Karpo. At the base camp we’ll enjoy the view of mountain ice caps, lakes of ice, and the rest of the sweeping scenery.

After spending some time at the base camp we will hike back to our hostel at Yubeng village, where we’ll spend the evening again.

Day 6 Yubeng-Xidang (20 km of trekking)

IIf the weather is clear enough, we’ll wake up with a view of the Mt. Kawgebo glacier. After breakfast we will begin our hike to the Sacred Waterfall, from which the village of Yubeng got its name. On our way to the waterfall we will see a holy monastery called Lakang, with its distinctive white pagoda. We’ll get a close-up view of the grand peaks of Mianchumu and Jiwaren’an. We’ll also see archaic virgin forests, mountain willows, sand thorns, the original site of Yubeng village, where sits the practice cave of the Buddhist master Padmasambhava.

The waterfall is a sacred place for Buddhists on pilgrimage to the area, and they circumambulate the waterfall 13 times in the belief that this act will erase all sins from this life. Maybe you can give it a try!

After a picnic lunch on the pastures around the waterfall we will begin our trek back to Xidang, where we will spend the night in a local guesthouse.

Day 7 Xidang-Mingyong-Deqin (16km of trekking)

In the morning, we will make the 8km hike up to the the village of Mingyong, where we’ll then make the 4km walk to the Mingyong Glaciers. The glacier is sacred to the local peoples, and is fed by snows which fall on Mount Meili. At 28.5 degrees north and an elevation of 2,700 meters (8,858 ft), the glacier is located at the lowest latitude and elevation of any glacier in China.

By, car we will return to Deqin, and you can spend your night relaxing and recovering from your days of hiking.

Day 8 Deqin-Shangri-La

Today we will drive back to Shangri-La, and during our drive back we will stop to take in the beauty of Shudu Lake and Napa Lake. Shudu Lake is located in northeast of Shangri-la and it is one of the largest fresh water lakes on the Diqing plateau. The lake is surrounded by a forest of fir, spruce and silver birch, and is home to lots of wild animals such as bears, golden cats, deer and pheasants.

Napa Lake is located right outside Shangri-La. Several rivers flow into the lake, including the Naizi and Naqu Rivers. The lake is seasonal in that it is dry in the fall and winter seasons, naturally becoming part of the Yila Prairie. During this time, you can see many sheep and cows grazing in the lakebed. After our visit to Napa Lake we will drive into Shangri-La for the night, staying at a hotel.

Day 9 Shangri-La-Lijiang

After an early breakfast we’ll make the 100km drive to Tiger Leaping Gorge, and the drive should take us around 2 hours. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the world’s deepest gorges, and is tucked in between Jade Dragon now Mountain and Haha Mountain. At a length of 17km, Tiger Leaping Gorge is the birthplace of the ancient Lijiang culture, whose people lived in the many caves, big and small, in the side of Yulong Xueshan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain). These caves were naturally formed houses. In some caves, rock paintings and artifacts shedding light on the life of these primitive peoples were found. The rock paintings have now become another attraction of Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge is regarded as one of the top ten hiking trails in China. At the mouth of the upper gorge, squeezed by the two snow-capped mountains and further blocked by the huge Tiger Leaping Boulder, the Golden Sand River is only 25 meters in width. The water there makes violent whirlpools and hits the banks so powerfully that soaring breakers are created. This really makes boating treacherous. However the high waves, soaring water, and the mountains shrouded with clouds and mist constitute the most magnificent scenes of the gorge and attract numerous brave explorers.

After taking some time to poke around Tiger Leaping Gorge and to have lunch, we’ll drive on to the town of Lijiang, an enclave of ethnic minority cultures, with the Naxi ethnic group being especially prevalent here. You will have the rest of the night to walk around the old town of Lijiang. The old town is made up of three old districts that retain a special character of Naxi and Han construction and Naxi customs, arts and culture. It was a former trading town and a stop for traders carrying goods on the “Chama Road” trails. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 following an earthquake and reconstruction in 1996 that returned the city to a more ancient look. The UNESCO description says: “The Old Town of Lijiang, which is perfectly adapted to the uneven topography of this key commercial and strategic site, has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity.

Day 10 Lijiang

Today will be a free day for you to further explore Lijiang. You can walk around the old own, or you can pay a visit to the Dongba Museum, located in nearby Dongba Village. The museum is built completely according to the traditional life style of the Naxi Minority. You can feel the traditional atmosphere of national culture from the layout of its yard, building facilities, tools and details of life. The daily life in Dongba Village truly represents the life of Dongba, Naxi Minority. There are three Dongba Masters in the village, namely, Yangjiwen, Heliming and Hezhenwei. Now, several Dongba students are learning Dongba culture from the old Dongbas. On March 5th of the lunar calendar, Dongbas from the whole Naxi district gather, holding the annual Dongba Shenluo Fair at the Dongba Shenluo Temple.

For lunch and dinner you might want to try some of the delicious and protein-rich Naxi cuisine.

Day 11 Lijiang-deaparture

Following breakfast you will be taken to the Lijiang airport, where you will fly on to your next destination, ending your trek with us.