Yunnan is China’s most diverse province, biologically as well as culturally. The province contains snow-capped mountains and true tropical environments, thus supporting a wide range of habitats and species. Unlike Sichuan, Yunnan province is relatively tiny (covering only approximately four percent of the land area of China), yet it supports over half of the country’s bird and mammal species. This short Yunnan tour covers the best birding locations of the province, including the unparalleled Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve, a site which boasts over 525 bird species within its boundaries.
Some of the fantastic birds we will look for during the tour include White-eared Night Heron, Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant, Silver Pheasant, Giant Nuthatch, Yunnan Nuthatch, White-speckled Laughingthrush, Long-tailed Broadbill, Spotted Elachura, Golden Bush Robin, Brown-winged Parrotbill, Chinese Babax, Yunnan Fulvetta, Himalayan Cutia, and Yellow-throated Bunting.
This tour can be combined with our preceding Taiwan Birding Extravaganza tour and with our excellent and very exciting China: 18-day Sichuan tour, which follows after this tour, which then is followed by our China: 12-day Qinghai extension tour into a mind-boggling, once-in-a-lifetime Asian mega tour.
Itinerary (9 days/8 nights)
Day 1. Arrival in Kunming
Arrival at Kunming Changshui International Airport in the morning. You will be met at the airport and then we will travel approximately three hours to Zixi Mountain Forest Park. If your flight cannot arrive in the morning please book a flight that arrives the previous afternoon, and we will be happy to arrange a hotel for you and take you out for some early morning birding nearby before the tour gets started.
Overnight: Zixi Mountain Forest Park
Day 2. Morning birding at Zixi Mountain Forest Park, afternoon travel to Lijiang
Zixi Mountain Forest Park is about 20km from the southwestern city of Chuxiong. We will spend the morning birding at the park, where we will immediately start looking for the region’s special birds. Over the course of the morning we hope to find our main target birds, Giant and Yunnan Nuthatches. Many other high-quality birds will also be sought, such as Orange-bellied Leafbird, Long-tailed, Black-breasted, and Chinese Thrushes, Large Niltava, Pale Blue Flycatcher, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, Black-browed Bushtit, Spot-breasted Scimitar Babbler, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, Bar-throated Minla, Grey-hooded Fulvetta, Rufous-backed Sibia, the stunning Mrs. Gould’s Sunbird, Maroon-backed Accentor, Grey-headed Bullfinch, Spot-breasted Parrotbill, and Godlewski’s and Black-faced Buntings.
After our birding session we will spend the majority of the afternoon driving to Lijiang, where we will be based for the next couple of days and nights.
Days 3-4. Birding in Lijiang
We will have two full days birding here with many target birds to keep us busy. Highlights here could include White-speckled Laughingthrush, Brown-winged Parrotbill, Rufous-tailed Babbler, Yunnan Nuthatch, Black-tailed Crake, Common Pheasant, Grey Nightjar, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spotted Nutcracker, Black-bibbed Tit, Black-streaked Scimitar Babbler, Spectacled, White-browed, Rusty-capped, and Yunnan Fulvettas, Chinese Babax, Elliot’s and Black-faced Laughingthrushes, Bar-throated Minla, Black-headed Sibia, White-collared and Rufous-vented Yuhinas, Grey-winged Blackbird, Daurian Redstart, Chestnut-bellied Rock Thrush, Sharpe’s Rosefinch, Black-headed Greenfinch, and the very pretty Yellow-throated Bunting. This area is also jam-packed with a wide range of tricky warblers to keep us on our toes!
Day 5. Lijiang to Baihualing
This is essentially a travel day as we move between Lijiang and Baihualing, our base for the next few days.
Days 6-7. Birding Gaoligongshan National Nature Reserve
The Gaoligongshan area offers some of the best birding in Yunnan, if not all of China. We will have two full days to explore a wide range of locations here. Possible species we will be looking out for include White-eared Night Heron, Fork-tailed Sunbird, Hill Partridge, Rufous-throated Partridge, Mountain Bamboo Partridge, Silver Pheasant, Mrs. Hume’s Pheasant, Greater Yellownape, Bay Woodpecker, Great Barbet, Golden-throated Barbet, Blue-throated Barbet, Red-headed Trogon, Banded Bay Cuckoo, Crested Serpent Eagle, Black Eagle, Mountain Hawk-Eagle, Long-tailed Broadbill, Orange-bellied Leafbird, Maroon Oriole, White-browed Bush Robin, Golden Bush Robin, Hodgson’s Treecreeper, Slaty-bellied Tesia, Himalayan Cutia, Black-headed Shrike-babbler, Blyth’s Shrike-babbler, Black-eared Shrike-babbler, Rusty-fronted Barwing, Grey-headed, Brown-winged, and Black-throated Parrotbills, Mrs. Gould`s, Green-tailed, Fire-tailed, and Black-throated Sunbirds, Streaked Spiderhunter, Brown Bullfinch, Spot-winged Grosbeak, Spot-necked Babbler, and Spotted Elachura.
Day 8. Baihualing to Tengchong
After a final morning birding in the Baihualing area we will travel to Tengchong.
Day 9. Laifengshan National Forest Park and tour concludes
Near Tengchong we will visit the Laifengshan National Forest Park for the morning, where we hope to find a few more interesting birds before the tour concludes. Possible species to look for include Brown-winged Parrotbill, Grey Bush Chat, Black-naped and Slender-billed Orioles, Rufous-backed, Black-headed, and Beautiful Sibias. Long-tailed Minivet, Little Pied Flycatcher, Black-browed Bushtit, Bar-tailed Treecreeper, Burmese Shrike, White-tailed Robin, Verditer Flycatcher, Chestnut-vented Nuthatch, White-throated Laughingthrush, Greater Necklaced Laughingthrush, Red-faced Liocichla, Blue-winged Minla, Whiskered Yuhina, and the stunningly beautiful Silver-eared Mesia. For those ending their trip here you will be taken to the airport in Tengchong, where this tour will conclude. For those continuing to the Sichuan tour you will fly from Tengchong to Chengdu.
Overnight: Not included (unless you are continuing onto the Sichuan Tour).
Please note that the itinerary cannot be guaranteed as it is only a rough guide and can be changed (usually slightly) due to factors such as availability of accommodation, updated information on the state of accommodation, roads, or birding sites, the discretion of the guides and other factors.