Tour Highlights

  • Stay with local Tibetan Families
  • Cook typical Tibetan Food
  • Visit Danba Watchtowers
  • See Mt Signing
  • Duration: 7 Days
  • Difficulty: 1
  • Group Size: 2-16 people
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This tour will focus on a memorable culinary experience visiting many famous Tibetan restaurants as well as using food and drink (such as tea) to give the traveler a unique insight into the Tibetan Plateau’s rich history and culture. Travelling in a small tour group you will stay at authentic Tibetan guesthouses and be as close as possible to true day-to-day Tibetan and living.
Harvesting or collecting your own ingredients, or buying them in local markets, you will return to your guesthouse to learn how to make traditional butter tea and classic Tibetan dishes in a real Tibetan kitchen. You will also get to visit a number of top cultural and scenic sights such as the world watchtowers of Gyalrong , the Changping and Shuangqiao valleys in the shadow of Mt. Bumoshi (Ch. Siguniang).

DAY 1 THE BROCADE CITY : ARRIVAL IN CHENGDU

Your guide will meet you at the airport for the short drive to your hotel. In the evening, you will have dinner with the Dragon Expeditions team and learn about your forthcoming trip, preparing you for some of the Tibetan Culture and Cuisine that you encounter.

Overnight: Chengdu Accommodation: Hotel Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Altitude: 500M

DAY 2 THE TEA HORSE TRAIL: YA’AN TO CHAKZAMKA (Ch.LUDING)

Setting out from Chengdu, we will pass through Ya’an, to arrive at Chakzamka, the starting point of the Ancient Tea Horse Road (Ch. Chama gudao). Shrouded in cloud and fog year-round, the humid region of Ya’an was the first place in the world where tea was domesticated.  Since then it has remained one of the most important producing regions in China. Traditionally the delicate green tea was preferred by the Han Chinese people of the Sichuan Basin, whilst Tibetans preferred the more potent to drink black tea.

Once past Ya’an, the road climbs steeply, following old trade routes, before taking a shortcut through the Erlang Tunnel, the modern gateway to the ancient Tibetan kingdom of Kham.  You will notice a great change in geography and plant life as we drive along the winding mountain roads down to the Dadu River valley. By the side of the road locals sell local produce such as cherries, walnuts, persimmons, loquat and peaches.

The noon meal will be taken at Chakzamka (Luding) on the historic Dadu River, where the Red Army crossed the Luding Bridge in possibly the most famous event of the Long March. Here we will partake of some classic Sichuanese mala dishes (ma= ‘numb’, prickly ash, la = ‘spicy’, hot chilli). From Chakzamka we will continue towards Dartsedo (Ch. Kangding). This lively market town is very much a border town between Chinese and Tibetan culture, with many locals and visitors wearing traditional Tibetan clothing. Like the clothes, the food is different is distinctively of the plateau: Yak is the main meat, yak butter tea is the main drink, and at the right time of year the market is full of high altitude wild mushrooms collected nearby, including the remarkable and valuable Cordyceps caterpillar fungus.

Overnight: Dartsedo Accommodation: Hotel Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Altitude: 2616m

DAY 3 TIBETAN MARKET TO TIBETAN KITCHEN: DARTSEDO TO ZHONGLU

After breakfast we will visit Dartsedo’s vegetable market to select products and learn about the different Wild Edible Fungi (WEF) region. Following this we’ll board the tour bus and set off for the Tibetan village of Zhonglu in Rongtrak (Ch. Danba) County, a journey of approximately 4 hours. Zhonglu Village is known as “the place which gods and people yearn for” in Tibetan, and has over a thousand years of history. The centuries-old houses and stone watchtowers are all architectural features unique to Zhonglu Village. The household which we will visit (and cook at!) belongs to Mr. and Mrs. Yeshi Samten and has been in the family for generations. As well as the kitchen, visitors will see the pantry and where the livestock are kept. Under the guidance of the hosts, guests can learn how to make various Tibetan dishes, before tasting the results for the evening meal.

Overnight: Zhonglu, Accommodation: Guesthouse Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Altitude: 2600m

DAY 4 ZHONGLU TO ZHILUNG(Ch.RILONG)  THROUGH SHUANGQIAO VALLEY

Leaving Rongtrak the tour follows a river valley upwards towards Mt. Bumoshi (Four Maidens/Sisters Mountain) scenic area. It is one of the most important mountains in the Qionglai mountain range that transects western Sichuan, its four peaks rising over 5000 meters above sea-level, the main peak (6,250meters) looks like a colossal snow-capped chisel driven upwards through the Earth’s surface; is a mountaineering challenge that has drawn top climbers from around the world.

The first stop is Shuangqiao (two bridges) Valley and the Four Sisters Mountain visitor center; on either side of the gorge rise steep mountains with heights over 5000m above sea-level.

We will have lunch at the entrance to Shuangqiao Valley, and then board a tour bus to see the sights within. Inside, we will stop at a Tibetan family residence for a Tibetan-style afternoon tea of Yak butter tea, hand-baked biscuits and potatoes, and dried fruits.  By early evening we should arrive at the town of Zhilung, close to the mountain.

Overnight: Zhilung, Accommodation: Guesthouse Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and  Dinner Altitude: 3200m

DAY 5 HIKING THE CHANGPING VALLEY

Changping Valley is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts; this spot is the main camping ground for hiking trips to Sanfeng (5664m) and Yaomei (6250m) Peak. The route from the bottom of the gorge to the mountain pass at 4668m entering Li County is known as “The Long Trail Through” and is one of China’s most famous hiking trails.

The Valley is also a great place for botanists and wildlife lovers. There is an incredible diversity of plant life, with tall Cypress trees and green pines growing so close together that only slivers of sunlight reach the ground.  Along the way the guide will point out the unique botany of the forest, including medicinal plants such as sea buckthorn, fritillaries, rhubarb, and snow lotus. At the end of the forest there is a broad meadow hemmed in by mountains, with views of the Four Sisters.

Returning to Zhilung, we will feast on a Tibetan specialty, stewed chicken with Cordyceps Caterpillar Fungus.

Overnight: Zhilung, Accommodation: Guesthouse Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and  Dinner Altitude: 3200m

DAY 6 ZHILUNG  TO CHENGDU

We will set out from Zhilung in the morning, traversing Balang Mountain Pass (4600m) with views back to the Four Sisters.  On the other side is the Wolong (sleeping dragon) Valley, home of the best known Giant Panda Reserve.  Along the way you will be able to see evidence of the damage cause by the great Sichuan earthquake of 2008.

After lunch we will visit the town of Yingxiu, devastated by the 2008 earthquake. Today, much of the town has been rebuilt, but parts have been left as a reminder of nature’s terrible power. Finally before returning to Chengdu we will visit Dujiangyan, one of the oldest irrigation systems in the world, where Daoist principles were used to tame the floodwaters that had ravaged the Sichuan basin, bringing stability and abundance, making Sichuan the rice basket of China. Water from Dujiangyan still irrigates over 5300 square kilometers of land in the region.

The culinary journey ends, inevitably, with Sichuan hot-pot, a final taste of mala to seal the memory of your journey.

Overnight: Chengdu, Accommodation: Hotel Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Altitude: 500m

DAY 7 ZHILUNG  TO CHENGDU

We will drop you off at Chengdu International Airport in good time to catch your flight.

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