Just as China has been making headlines daily on the international news and business channels, it has also emerged as a major birding destination, increasingly gripping the imagination of many world birders. In common with other massive countries, like Brazil and India, you cannot do justice to China in a single trip, and therefore we currently have four very different tours to this fascinating oriental country.
Click a tour for a complete itinerary:
Which tour should I pick?
If you are only ever going to come to China once, then the Sichuan and Tibetan Plateau tour is the one; it offers many of the things that people are looking for from a China tour: spectacular scenery to rival anything on the planet, absorbing cultural highlights both in Tibetan and Han areas, internationally renowned cuisine, and, of course, a superb selection of specialties most easily found in China, which includes a healthy number of pheasants and parrotbills (two key groups in China). This tour offers Sichuan in combination with the Tibetan Plateau of Qinghai, so that along with a variety of endemics in Sichuan some classic Tibetan species can be added too, including six species of rosefinch, Ground Tit (formerly Hume’s Groundpecker), and Black-necked Crane. And that is not to mention the significant monotypic family, Przevalski’s Rosefinch. This tour offers the first-timer in China the greatest number of lifers, and can easily combined with the short migration tour of Beidaihe.
For some, a visit to China would not be complete without a visit to “true” Tibet, we offer Qinghai and Tibet: Pink-tailed Bunting and the Potola Palace which comes complete with a visit to one of the most famous buildings in all of Asia, the Potola Palace. As part of this trip there is an amazing oriental train journey, where mammals, as well as scenery, take center stage, with the real chance to see rare or local Asian species like Tibetan Gazelle and Tibetan Wild Ass, and even the outside chance of Tibetan Wolf or a Wild Yak. While the species may be markedly different this journey offers an African safari experience in the heart of Asia. Other standout offerings on this trip are Giant Babax and Tibetan Eared-Pheasant, as well as the incomparable Ibisbill. This tour combines well with Qinghai, and covers more ground than covered on the short stay in Qinghai offered on our Sichuan and Qinghai tour, so that birds like Ala Shan Redstart, Roborovski’s Rosefinch, and Tibetan Sandgrouse are a real possibility, without missing out on the important family of Przevalski’s Rosefinch, which is also offered on this tour too.
Southeast China: Hidden Treasures of the Song Kingdom is an emerging destination in the Orient, and is fast becoming recognised for its discrete selection of must-see world birds, which are best found there. For those who have visited Sichuan previously, or have extensive birding experience in Asia, this is a great trip offering many hard/impossible -to-see birds elsewhere, like Reed Parrotbill, the spectacular Cabot’s Tragopan, Scaly-sided Merganser, Relict Gull, and the rare Baer’s Pochard. For world listers looking to plug some significant gaps on their life list this is a phenomenal trip. Do not think, though, that cultural distractions will be ignored either, as an extension to this offers a visit to see the famous Terracotta Warriors, along with a trip to see the critically endangered Crested Ibis, and a search for Giant Panda at one of the best sites in the world for recent sightings of this ultra-rare mammal.
For people who are addicted to bird migration, and visit such epicentres this this in North America, like Cape May, Magee Marsh, and High Island, we offer a destination which offers the same thrill of migration, but in the Orient: Beidaihe: The Asian Migrant Hotspot. This tour visits the long-established migration hot spots of Beidaihe and Happy Island, which like their American “equivalent”, High Island, attract thousands of songbirds each and every spring. The tiny woods are filled with such thrillers as Siberian Thrushes, Siberian Blue Robins, Siberian Rubythroat, and Mugimaki Flycatchers, while the coasts are home to rare Asian birds like Asiatic Dowitcher and Relict Gull. Once again, as everywhere in China, there are significant cultural distractions in this area, which is accessed from Beijing, notably the Great Wall and the Forbidden Palace which are included on the itinerary for their significant history, and also the chance to pick up widespread Chinese endemic birds like Pere David’s Laughingthrush and Yellow-bellied Tit. This short migration tour is only occasionally offered as a set departure tour, but can be combined well, as either a set departure offering or custom tour with our Sichuan tour.
What about a custom tour?
Even with four exciting offerings from China we cannot cover everything in this huge country, so if you wish to have a custom trip chasing certain key species like the recently discovered Blackthroat and Rusty-throated Parrotbill, Yunnan Nuthatch and or mammals like Golden Snub-nosed Monkey, we already have extensive experience of doing this, and so this can readily be arranged. Please contact the Tropical Birding office if you wish to find out more about our China custom tours.