DONGCHUAN AND LIJIANG PHOTOSAFARI – From 17th to 25th May 2024

Introduction

This is a short trip of 9 days and 8 nights to a beautiful place called Dongchuan (Red Land), Shaxi, Lugu Lake, and Lijiang. Dongchuan district lies about 250km Northeast of Kunming.  The altitude is about 1,800 to 2,600m above sea level. This place is commonly known as “God’s Palette”. The area spreads about 50km in diameter. The contrast between the natural red earth and the ripening potato and wheat crops are a sight to behold. May to June are the best times to visit this place.

After Dongchuan, we will travel towards Lijiang. We will visit Heijing, Shaxi, Lijiang and Lugu Lake. We will visit the Musuo tribe.

We have a Chinese Photographer friend who stays in this district. He has vast intricate knowledge after photographing the sceneries of Dongchuan, Lijiang, and the rice terraces in Honghe for the past twelve years. He will be leading this photography trip. He will be able to bring you to secret places where only local photographers would know.

The journey starts at Kunming Airport. From there we will travel to Dongchuan which is about 3 hours away. There are quite a number of lodging houses in Dongchuan but the standard of the accommodation is not up to the 3 or 4* hotels as in Kunming City. We will be booking the best lodging houses there once we get the group going.

The journey from Dongchuan to Kunming, Heijing, Shaxi, Lijiang, and Lugu Lake takes you through some of the most captivating landscapes in Yunnan Province, China. Here’s a description of the route and what you can expect along the way:

Kunming: Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province. Known as the “City of Eternal Spring” for its pleasant climate year-round, Kunming is a vibrant metropolis with a mix of modernity and tradition.

Heijing: From Kunming, head towards Heijing, a small ancient town with a rich history dating back over a thousand years. Heijing is famous for its well-preserved Ming and Qing dynasty architecture, including traditional courtyard houses and ancient city walls. Stroll through the narrow cobblestone streets, visit the ancient temples, and immerse yourself in the town’s serene atmosphere.

Shaxi: Continuing your journey, make your way to Shaxi Ancient Town, located in the foothills of the Himalayas. This historic town is a hidden gem, renowned for its picturesque scenery, well-preserved Bai architecture, and laid-back vibe. Explore the cobblestone streets, visit the ancient temples, and soak in the charm of this ancient trading post along the Tea Horse Road.

Lijiang: Next, venture further north to Lijiang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site famed for its ancient old town and stunning natural beauty. Wander through the maze-like streets of Lijiang Old Town, marvel at the traditional Naxi architecture, and visit attractions like the Mu Palace and the Black Dragon Pool Park.

Lugu Lake: Finally, conclude your journey with a visit to Lugu Lake, a pristine alpine lake nestled between Yunnan and Sichuan provinces. Lugu Lake is renowned for its crystal-clear waters, surrounding mountains, and unique Mosuo culture. Take a leisurely boat ride on the lake, explore the quaint villages along its shores, and learn about the matrilineal society of the Mosuo people.

Throughout this journey, you’ll encounter a diverse range of landscapes, from lush green valleys to rugged mountains, as well as a rich tapestry of cultures and traditions that make Yunnan Province such a fascinating destination to explore.

Musuo Tribe: The Mosuo tribe, also known as the Na people, resides primarily in the remote mountainous regions around Lugu Lake in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces of southwest China. What distinguishes the Mosuo from many other cultures is their unique matrilineal society and family structure.

In Mosuo culture, lineage and property are passed down through the female line, making it one of the world’s few remaining matriarchal societies. This means that women typically hold significant roles in decision-making, property ownership, and household management. Men often play a more peripheral role in domestic affairs, focusing more on tasks such as fishing and farming.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Mosuo culture is their practice of “walking marriage” or “zouhun.” In this system, individuals are not bound by traditional marriage contracts. Instead, women have the freedom to choose their partners and maintain separate households. Children are raised within the mother’s household, and there is no expectation for the father to provide financial support. This unique arrangement emphasizes the importance of female autonomy and solidarity within Mosuo society.

The Mosuo people have also preserved their distinct language, which belongs to the Tibeto-Burman linguistic group. Additionally, they have rich traditions in music, dance, and storytelling, often drawing from their natural surroundings and spiritual beliefs.

Despite their relatively small population and remote location, the Mosuo have attracted considerable attention from researchers and tourists interested in their distinctive way of life. However, this attention has also brought challenges, such as pressures from modernization and tourism, which threaten the preservation of their cultural heritage. Efforts are underway to find a balance between preserving their traditions and adapting to the changing world around them.

Chinese Visa

Malaysians, Singaporeans and some residents of other countries are exempted from applying for Chinese Visa for a predetermined period of visit. However, we will be providing documentation for the applying for the Chinese Visa if required. The Chinese Visa fees are to be paid by the participant

How to get there?

Air Asia flies directly from Kuala Lumpur to Kunming, China. The preferred flight is highlighted in yellow. Air Asia has changed their flight schedules. We may need to spend a night in Kunming.

Itinerary

D1 : – 17th May Arrival to Kunming

  • Fly to Kunming, capital city of the most southwest China’s a Yunnan province.
  • Pick-up at Kunming Airport and drive to Dongchuan (Reland). (2 hrs drive)
  • Check-in lodging house

D2 – 18th May : Red Land (B,L)

  • Get up early for sunrise,
  • Then drive back for breakfast,
  • go on visiting villagers,
  • visit a local market nearby,
  • Drive to sunset location.

D3: –  19th May (Sunday) Red Land -Heijing old town (B,L)

  • Drive to the Heijing old town (Heijing means black well in Chinese), 3 hours’ drive.
  • This town’s history has over 1,000 years. It started due to the trade of well salt in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The salt trade has stopped
  • Visit the Sunday market and street vendors

D4: – 20th May Heijing-Dali-Shaxi old town (B,L)

  • Drive to Shaxi old town via the Erhai Lake,
  • Shaxi is one of the most important towns on the Old Tea-Horse Trade route.
  • Shaxi Ancient Town: This historic town dates back over a thousand years and offers a glimpse into traditional Chinese architecture and culture. The town square, cobblestone streets, and ancient buildings provide a picturesque setting for leisurely strolls.
  • Sideng Market: This vibrant market takes place every Friday in Shaxi’s ancient town square. Visitors can browse stalls selling local handicrafts, fresh produce, and traditional snacks, offering an authentic glimpse into daily life in rural Yunnan.

D5: – 21st May Shaxi-Lijiang (B,L)

  • Drive from Shaxi to Lijiang (2hours’drive)
  • Check-in hotel
  • Explore the Old Town: Wander through the labyrinthine streets of Lijiang’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire the traditional Naxi architecture, stroll along the ancient cobblestone pathways, and immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of this historic district.

D6: 22nd May Lijiang-the town of stone (B,L)

  • Morning visit a local park to shoot the snow mountains,
  • after lunch drive out of Lijiang through mountains to the town of stone by the upstream of the Yangtze (3 hours drive). All houses of this town are built on a huge stone which stretches into the river, hence the name. It was initially built in Mid Tang Dynasty in 8th century. The houses survived the Ming and Qing Dynasties.

D7: 23rd May The town of stone -Lugu Lake (B,L)

  • Go for morning sunrise around the lake
  • drive along the road in mountains to Lugu Lake,
  • drive to nice plateau with a beautiful lake view

D8: 24th May Lugu Lake and the Musuo Tribe (B,L)

  • Visit the 2700 meter -high Lugu area including Lige Peninsula,
  • visit a Mosuo family Mosuo are a tribe of Naxi group where women are the matriarch of the family and the women can have multiple partners. We will be spending sometime there.

D9: 25th May Lugu-Kunming-Departure(B)

  • Transfer to Lugu airport,
  • Fly to Kunming (13:00-14:00),
  • Connecting flight out of Kunming

Photo Gallery

Dongchuan – Aerial view
Wheat fields of Dongchuan
Shepard tending to his sheep
Lugu Lake
Lugu Lake
Lijiang ancient town
Lijiang Ancient town
Traditional Sunday Market
Mosuo Lady