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China: Yosemite Sister Parks Hiking Tour

Enchanting Landscapes, Traditional Culture & Pandas


China's vast, unique landscape holds two incredible national parks that are sister parks to Yosemite - an international collaboration to help preserve parks that face similar challenges. Join expert MT Sobek guides and park rangers on this 12-day adventure through these magical destinations. Ascend sacred Huangshan, traverse its summit, witness a spectacular sunrise (or two), and visit historic villages. Across the country in Jiuzhaigou National Park, explore colored lakes, picturesque travertine landscapes, and Tibetan villages, and access Zharu Valley - seen by only a few lucky visitors per year. All this natural beauty plus time to meet giant pandas in Chengdu!

12 Days

From: $7,495

China's vast, unique landscape holds two incredible national parks that are sister parks to Yosemite - an international collaboration to help preserve parks that face similar challenges. Join expert MT Sobek guides and park rangers on this 12-day adventure through these magical destinations. Ascend sacred Huangshan, traverse its summit, witness a spectacular sunrise (or two), and visit historic villages. Across the country in Jiuzhaigou National Park, explore colored lakes, picturesque travertine landscapes, and Tibetan villages, and access Zharu Valley - seen by only a few lucky visitors per year. All this natural beauty plus time to meet giant pandas in Chengdu!

Highlights


  • Hike, tour, and camp in China's two beautiful Yosemite sister parks, Huangshan and Jiuzhaigou

  • Enjoy a ranger-led ecotour of Jiuzhaigou's Zharu Valley, a special-access area - an MT Sobek-style treat

  • Explore southwest China's rich culture in its atmospheric Tibetan/Qiang villages and lofty Buddhist temples

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

China: Yosemite Sister Parks Hiking

Start: Hangzhou, China  End: Chengdu, China

Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.

Itinerary


  • Arrive in Hangzhou

    Day 1

    Welcome to China! Upon arrival in Hangzhou, meet an MT Sobek representative at the airport and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to adjust to the new time zone. Depending on your arrival time, you might opt to walk along famous West Lake, a centuries-old attraction and favorite imperial retreat. The lake and its environs have all the elements of a traditional Chinese garden but on a grand scale. In the evening, meet the group and trip leader for an orientation and welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

    Accommodation: Lakeview Hotel Hangzhou-Hangzhou, China

    Meals: Dinner

  • Journey to Mount Huangshan

    Day 2

    Rise early to drive to Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain). UNESCO listed in 1990, Huangshan, with its 72 peaks, is China's most famous mountain for scenic beauty. Meet the official Yosemite liaison, then ascend this magnificent range on the Eastern Stairs, like Yosemite's Mist Trail but even better engineered, with four times more stairs. En route, spot Eyebrow Peak, reach the Immortal Pointing the Way, and pass bubbling streams and pretty forests. From the top, it's an easy walk to the hotel. If you prefer, ride the effortless cable car to the top.

    Accommodation: Xihai Hotel

    Activity: 3 hours/4.5 miles hiking with 2,500' elevation gain or cable car with 20-minute/.5-mile walk with elevation loss

    Transportation: 4-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Explore the Summit Area of Huangshan

    Day 3

    Weather permitting, begin the day with a spectacular sunrise spilling light over a sea of clouds. Enjoy breakfast, then set off on an all-day hike exploring the Xihai Canyon, a scarcely visited area featuring astonishing, dramatic - but safe - trails. Hike to the bottom, enjoy lunch and a rest, and then take a gently paced 5-hour walk through breathtaking scenery back to the hotel. (There's a cable-railway if you want a lift up.) If you prefer not to hike, there are easier, beautifully scenic walks available at the summit.

    Accommodation: Xihai Hotel

    Activity: 8 hours/10 miles hiking with 1,100' elevation gain/loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Traverse Huangshan Summit

    Day 4

    After another magical sunrise, take a popular trail to the top of the Western Stairs - and one of the most photographed trees in Asia. Start the challenging summit crossing with a gentle ascent to Guangming Ding (6,100'), the park's second-highest peak, then down, up, down, up to your lunch spot. (Hardier hikers ascend via the steepest stone stairs of the park's tallest summit.) After lunch, join the crowds at the famous Yingke Song (Welcoming Guests Pine). This afternoon, relax at the hotel or climb to Celestial Capital Peak's dizzying summit.

    Accommodation: Yupinglou Hotel-Huangshan, China

    Activity: 8 hours/7 miles hiking with 800' elevation gain/loss or a more challenging option

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Visit Hongcun Village, Return to Hangzhou

    Day 5

    Rise early to have the famous tree all to yourself before catching the first cable cars down the mountain. Transfer to Hongcun Village, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighting typical southern Anhui architecture - and one of China's most photogenic and well-preserved historic villages. Built along the banks of Nan Lake, walking down the streets is like being in a watery living museum filled with richly decorated porticos and swooping rooflines. Lunch in the oldest house in the village, then transfer back to Hangzhou and enjoy some downtime near West Lake.

    Accommodation: Lakeview Hotel Hangzhou-Hangzhou, China

    Transportation: 4-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Fly to Sichuan

    Day 6

    Transfer to the airport for your flight to remote Jiuzhaigou (connecting through Chengdu) in northern Sichuan province. Take a deep breath - the airport is at over 11,000 feet. Drive on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau through gorgeous Min Mountains landscapes and the famed Nine Turns to Zhangzha, the gateway town for Jiuzhaigou National Park. Stretch your legs while exploring this Tibetan/Qiang village. Your hotel is near a rushing stream by the park entrance.

    Accommodation: Celebrity Jiuzhaigou Hotel-Jiuzhaigou, China

    Transportation: 4-hour flight transfer & 1.5 hours private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Revel in Jiuzhaigou National Park

    Day 7

    Enjoy today exploring picturesque Jiuzhaigou National Park. The region suffered a 2017 earthquake but Jiuzhaigou is open and stunning - prepare to be awestruck. Your first stop, Mirror Lake, lies at the mouth of Ri Tse Valley. Its flat surface reflects every single object - and explains a local saying: "Birds fly in water while fish swim in the sky." Farther down the valley is Pearl Shoal Waterfall and, just beyond, the enchanting Five Colored Pond, whose water is multihued by leaves and wood beneath its surface, and trees and mountains above.

    Accommodation: Celebrity Jiuzhaigou Hotel-Jiuzhaigou, China

    Activity: Up to 7 hours hiking with 4,000' elevation gain

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Take a Ranger-Guided Tour of Zharu Valley

    Day 8

    Join park staff on an ecotour of Zharu Valley, a newly opened, limited-access area within Jiuzhaigou. Zharu Valley is ideal for hiking, camping, and observing flora and fauna - and touring it with rangers is a unique experience. Begin with a tour of a Tibetan home in Rexi Village, then walk up-valley to the ruins of Guo Da, an abandoned traditional Tibetan village made of wood and clay. After lunch, continue up-canyon past a Bonpo Buddhist temple surrounded by tens of thousands of prayer flags, then on to camp at Dere.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek Camp – China

    Activity: 5-6 hours/6 miles hiking with 1,000' elevation gain

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Pass a Quiet Last Day in Jiuzhaigou

    Day 9

    This leisurely morning, go bird watching or walk up-canyon to the big meadow of Ranwalongong. Either way, slow down and soak up the stillness and peace in this virtually unvisited - only 200 guests per year - part of Jiuzhaigou. After lunch, depart camp and leave the isolation of Zharu Valley. Bus down to your hotel again and enjoy the free afternoon to take a shower, roam and shop in the interesting Tibetan/Qiang gateway town of Zhangzha, spend more time with park visitor center exhibits, or just rest and relax.

    Accommodation: Celebrity Jiuzhaigou Hotel-Jiuzhaigou, China

    Activity: 2 hours/1-2 miles hiking with negligible elevation gain/loss

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Explore UNESCO Wonders

    Day 10

    Bus over a 13,123-foot pass and drop into the watershed that holds Huanglong National Park, with its world-famous travertine landscape. This mountain valley is noted for its two-mile sequence of yellow calcareous deposits. Its unique karst landscape - unlike anything in Yosemite - is accentuated by colored ponds and lakes, and travertine waterfalls and caves. After lunch, hike a steady uphill to the source of the calcareous flow and visit the Huanglong Temple before walking or taking the cable car back down. Bus over the pass and overnight in a Tibetan/Qiang village.

    Accommodation: Yari Hotel

    Activity: 3 hours/5 miles hiking with 1,500' elevation gain/loss

    Transportation: 2.5-hour bus transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Meet Chengdu's Pandas

    Day 11

    Fly to Chengdu and transfer to the countryside of Dujiangyan, where you meet with the irresistible residents of the Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. This new panda base, in the Stone Bridge Village, includes in its panda community a bear that used to live in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Be sure you saved some storage space on your camera to capture these rare and photogenic creatures! Return to Chengdu in the afternoon and a farewell dinner with the group at a local Sichuan restaurant.

    Accommodation: Buddha Zen Hotel-Chengdu

    Transportation: 1-hour flight transfer & 2-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Depart Chengdu

    Day 12

    In the morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home to the US via Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, or Tokyo. If you'd rather explore more of China, including the Xian and Beijing areas, ask MT Sobek about our extension packages.

    Meals: Breakfast

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Dates & Prices


  • 2023
  • Go Custom
  • Inclusions

2023

Scheduled Dates


The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.

  • May 14 - 25, 2023
    $7,495 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,060 internal airfare+$950 single supplement
    Available
  • Sep 10 - 21, 2023
    $7,495 price per person dbl occ
    +$1,060 internal airfare+$950 single supplement
    Available

Go Custom

Create Your Very Own Adventure


Dreaming of an adventure designed exclusively for you? With insider access and decades of experience, our travel experts create custom tailored adventures that are perfect for families, couples, and large groups. MT Sobek's custom adventures are designed to our exacting standards and led by our award-winning adventure guides.

When to start planning? Earlier is always better when designing a custom trip. More time allows for better availability of preferred accommodations, guides and your desired activities. Ideally, start the conversation with us at least 6 months before you want to travel. If you are looking for a custom trip that departs within three months, chances are greatly diminished in securing requested accommodations and the best guides.

*Custom trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit once an itinerary is agreed upon.

Start Planning

Inclusions

Price Includes


  • Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
  • All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts, almost all lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
  • Snacks and water between meals
  • Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
  • Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
  • Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
  • Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
  • Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
  • Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Baggage transfers and porterage

Price Does Not Include


  • International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
  • Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
  • Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and guide-drivers
  • Travel Protection Program
  • Personal expenses

Contact An Expert


800-974-0300

Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Your Guides


The best people to immerse you in a destination are the ones who live there, which is why we feature local Adventure Guides on our trips. Here are a few that you might meet on this adventure.

Pete Devine

Pete Devine

Pete grew up in New England and has been working in Yosemite for 35 years. He has directed education programs for the nonprofits Yosemite Institute (now NatureBridge) and Yosemite Conservancy. He has hiked, skied and cycled throughout the park in every season, and is a celebrated expert on Yosemite's history and natural history. Pete serves on the park's International Affairs Working Group and as official liaison to Yosemite's two sister national parks in China. One of Pete's favorite things about the Yosemite-China connection is the people who are called to come experience both natural wonders for themselves. 

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Welcome to China! Upon arrival in Hangzhou, meet an MT Sobek representative at the airport and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to adjust to the new time zone. Depending on your arrival time, you might opt to walk along famous West Lake, a centuries-old attraction and favorite imperial retreat. The lake and its environs have all the elements of a traditional Chinese garden but on a grand scale. In the evening, meet the group and trip leader for an orientation and welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

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Rise early to drive to Mount Huangshan (Yellow Mountain). UNESCO listed in 1990, Huangshan, with its 72 peaks, is China\'s most famous mountain for scenic beauty. Meet the official Yosemite liaison, then ascend this magnificent range on the Eastern Stairs, like Yosemite\'s Mist Trail but even better engineered, with four times more stairs. En route, spot Eyebrow Peak, reach the Immortal Pointing the Way, and pass bubbling streams and pretty forests. From the top, it\'s an easy walk to the hotel. If you prefer, ride the effortless cable car to the top.

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Rise early to have the famous tree all to yourself before catching the first cable cars down the mountain. Transfer to Hongcun Village, another UNESCO World Heritage Site, highlighting typical southern Anhui architecture - and one of China\'s most photogenic and well-preserved historic villages. Built along the banks of Nan Lake, walking down the streets is like being in a watery living museum filled with richly decorated porticos and swooping rooflines. Lunch in the oldest house in the village, then transfer back to Hangzhou and enjoy some downtime near West Lake.

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Transfer to the airport for your flight to remote Jiuzhaigou (connecting through Chengdu) in northern Sichuan province. Take a deep breath - the airport is at over 11,000 feet. Drive on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau through gorgeous Min Mountains landscapes and the famed Nine Turns to Zhangzha, the gateway town for Jiuzhaigou National Park. Stretch your legs while exploring this Tibetan/Qiang village. Your hotel is near a rushing stream by the park entrance.

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Join park staff on an ecotour of Zharu Valley, a newly opened, limited-access area within Jiuzhaigou. Zharu Valley is ideal for hiking, camping, and observing flora and fauna - and touring it with rangers is a unique experience. Begin with a tour of a Tibetan home in Rexi Village, then walk up-valley to the ruins of Guo Da, an abandoned traditional Tibetan village made of wood and clay. After lunch, continue up-canyon past a Bonpo Buddhist temple surrounded by tens of thousands of prayer flags, then on to camp at Dere.

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Bus over a 13,123-foot pass and drop into the watershed that holds Huanglong National Park, with its world-famous travertine landscape. This mountain valley is noted for its two-mile sequence of yellow calcareous deposits. Its unique karst landscape - unlike anything in Yosemite - is accentuated by colored ponds and lakes, and travertine waterfalls and caves. After lunch, hike a steady uphill to the source of the calcareous flow and visit the Huanglong Temple before walking or taking the cable car back down. Bus over the pass and overnight in a Tibetan/Qiang village.

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Fly to Chengdu and transfer to the countryside of Dujiangyan, where you meet with the irresistible residents of the Conservation and Research Center for the Giant Panda. This new panda base, in the Stone Bridge Village, includes in its panda community a bear that used to live in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Be sure you saved some storage space on your camera to capture these rare and photogenic creatures! Return to Chengdu in the afternoon and a farewell dinner with the group at a local Sichuan restaurant.

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In the morning, transfer to the airport for your flight home to the US via Hong Kong, Beijing, Seoul, Shanghai, or Tokyo. If you\'d rather explore more of China, including the Xian and Beijing areas, ask MT Sobek about our extension packages.

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Activity Level


This trip is rated activity level 4. This is an active walking trip and participants must be in good cardiovascular condition, with reliable balance for stout climbs and ascents at altitudes up to about 7000'. Most of our trails are not rustic wilderness paths, but engineered to almost urban standards - in remarkable mountain settings. While most days will have easier options, everyone needs to be solid afoot.
Learn more about activity levels here.

Activity Snapshot

Day 2

3 hours/4.5 miles hiking with 2,500' elevation gain or cable car with 20-minute/.5-mile walk with elevation loss

Day 3

8 hours/10 miles hiking with 1,100' elevation gain/loss

Day 4

8 hours/7 miles hiking with 800' elevation gain/loss or a more challenging option

Day 7

Up to 7 hours hiking with 4,000' elevation gain

Day 8

5-6 hours/6 miles hiking with 1,000' elevation gain

Day 9

2 hours/1-2 miles hiking with negligible elevation gain/loss

Day 10

3 hours/5 miles hiking with 1,500' elevation gain/loss

Accommodations


Enjoy the comfort of well-appointed hotel accommodations all set in scenic locations as well as 1 night of tent camping.

Buddha Zen Hotel-Chengdu
Buddha Zen Hotel-Chengdu

The Buddha Zen Hotel is a serene, Buddhism-inspired accommodation amidst the boisterous energy of Chengdu. Guests are welcomed into quiet rooms that combine the beauty of traditional Chinese culture with modern facilities and uncompromising service. As if the comfortable beds weren't relaxing enough, spa, sauna, and massage services are available on-site.

Celebrity Jiuzhaigou Hotel-Jiuzhaigou, China
Celebrity Jiuzhaigou Hotel-Jiuzhaigou, China

Opened in 2010 and renovated in 2015, the Celebrity Jiuzhaigou Hotel is centrally located for exploring Jiuzhaigou National Park and the surrounding valley. The property has an on-site Chinese restaurant and free Wi-Fi in designated areas. If hiking in Jiuzhaigou National Park wasn't enough, hit the gym - or if it was, relax in the massage room.

Lakeview Hotel Hangzhou-Hangzhou, China
Lakeview Hotel Hangzhou-Hangzhou, China

As the name suggests, the Lakeview Hotel Hangzhou offers excellent views of West Lake, a must-see highlight for visitors to Hangzhou. Most rooms in this business-style hotel have large windows from which to enjoy the view, along with free Wi-Fi and Western-cuisine room service. Guests like the notable breakfast buffet, with Western, Chinese, and Japanese fare.

Yupinglou Hotel-Huangshan, China
Yupinglou Hotel-Huangshan, China

Location, location, location! In Yuping Scenic Area at the top of Huangshan, Yupinglou Hotel's terrace is a fine viewing spot for catching a famous Yellow Mountain sunrise or sunset. The structure is impressively stacked into a granite cleft descending many stories below what you see in the lobby. The property and rooms are standard fare for this region, offering clean rooms with decent linens and hot water. Come for the sensational mountain and sunrise/sunset views, and you won't be disappointed.

MT Sobek Camp – China

Follow rangers through the Zharu Valley to a ranger cabin, where local guides will set up comfortable two-person tents in a flat, open area adjacent to the cabin. Supplies include a comfy mattress and clean, warm sleeping bag. A clean porta-potty is nearby. Meals will be prepared by local guides in the cabin kitchen, and you can enjoy the babbling stream and terrific night skies.

Xihai Hotel
Xihai Hotel

In the shadow of Mt. Huangshan, the Xihai Hotel is surrounded by the lush greenery and beautiful landscape of the park. The rooms are comfortable with modern amenities. Dine at the on-site restaurant, which features local cuisine or relax sipping on coffee at the bar.

Yari Hotel
Yari Hotel

The Songpan Yari International Hotel is decorated in a traditional Tibetan and Qiang design to create a warm and relaxing stay. The rooms are comfortable with natural atheistic and including modern amenities, such as Wi-Fi. The restaurant offers Sichuan, Cantonese, Tibetan and Qiang flavored local dishes for dinner, along with a Chinese and Western breakfast buffet. Unwind from your journey in on-site teahouse and card room.

Weather


Daytime temperatures in Jiuzhaigou and Huangshan will range from 50°F to mid-60°F. Summit and nighttime temperatures could be low 30°F.

 
May
Sep
Chengdu 
High
Low
High
Low
Chengdu
79
65
77
66
Huangshan 
High
Low
High
Low
Huangshan
79
63
82
66
Jiuzhaigou National Park 
High
Low
High
Low
Jiuzhaigou National Park
71
53
66
44

FAQs


Who will meet me on arrival?

On Day 1, our MT Sobek representative will meet you at the airport and transfer you to the hotel.

Does MT Sobek handle our visa?

No, we are not able to handle your visa, but we provide you with all the necessary documentation to handle on your own or through a visa service.

Will I have Wi-Fi on the trip?

Most of the hotels will have Wi-Fi or at the very least a business center for getting online.

Do I need to bring my own sleeping bag for the one night of camping?

No, we will provide a sleeping bag for you. Park management provides us with solid two-person tents, cushy sleeping pads and warm sleeping bags. Everything is clean and delivered to our camp.

If I arrive a day early in Hangzhou, is my transfer included?

No, we provide one group transfer for this trip to and from the airports. If you arrive separate from the group transfer or a day early, we can arrange a private transfer for you at an extra cost.

Can you accommodate my diet on this trip?

With advanced notice, we are able to accommodate almost every diet. Please let your Adventure Coordinator know what your dietary restrictions are.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Guest Reviews


"A prominent reason we have chosen MT Sobek as our favorite adventure travel company has been the excellent travel guides."

Carol & Burt D.
MT Sobek Guests

"We have traveled throughout the world, but never experienced a level of service and attention to detail as we did with MT Sobek."

Dennis G.
MT Sobek Guest