Panda Volunteer Tour
Panda Volunteer Tour
Feb.8 to Feb.20, 2020
If you are a panda fan there is no other Panda Tour that can rival ours. Our partner in Beijing ourselves are the originators of the Panda Volunteer Tours which we have offered since 2001. We don’t offer one day or two day tours nor are the pandas a sideline on a tour to China. They are the main attraction. Our tours are panda intensive and are geared to serious panda fans to do volunteer serval days to a week.
In recent months the World Wildlife Fund has complained to China that the pandas are being misused having their pictures taken with tourists day in and day out. Pandas are wild animals and not circus props. We fully support this. Picture taking for the tourists is not what panda bases have been established for. Thus it is no longer possible to have ones picture taken with a panda bear.
It is exactly for this reason that Posh Journeys had suspended their tours for some time. Panda tours had acquired a bad reputation of being a “make money quick” scheme. Expensive quick day tours to the Chengdu Base and the Dujiangyan panda base were being offered by irresponsible Chinese and American tour operators as “highlights” of a tour to China.
However, Posh Journeys sees no reason to suspend our tours any longer which are geared to the many serious panda fans. Thus in February 2020 we are offering a Panda Volunteer Tour. The tour is combined at the end with a three day cruise down the Yangtze River which takes participants through the most spectacular section of the river. The tour will be escorted by Richard Blanchette of Boulder, Colorado, a nature and wildlife photographer who has escorted Panda Tours for us before.
THE ITINERARY IS:
Feb. 8 – Depart San Francisco for the flight to Chengdu. Due to the fact that you will have have a two and a half hour drive from Chengdu Airport to the the Panda Conservation and Research Center where you will volunteer. We are presently working on a discounted group flight with United so that everyone can arrive at the same time.
Feb.9 – Arrive Chengdu where your local guide will meet you at the airport to drive to the Panda Base, where you will will volunteer. After arrival, check into the hotel which is is located within the Conservation Research Center. There is time for a rest or a first look at the pandas before meeting for dinner at the hotel.
Feb.10/11 – After breakfast register at the Volunteer Club and sign some paperwork and receive your uniform. After this meet your keeper, referred to as “the Master” with whom you will work. You will be assigned a panda for whom you will be the keeper for the time you are a volunteer. The chores are exactly those a keeper would do. They entail cleaning the panda’s enclosure and bin, taking out old bamboo and replenishing it with new and feeding the panda additional foods such as milk and panda bread. The bread is baked fresh each day in a special kitchen and you will take turns baking the bread. Work hours are from 8:30 in the morning to 11:30 and from 2:00 in the afternoon to 4:00 pm. Lunches and dinners are at the hotel. After working hours you are free to enjoy the base and take pictures of the pandas.
Feb. 12/13 – A special treat on these two days is volunteer work at the old Wolong Research Center that was destroyed in the earthquake of 2008. The accommodation will not change since the old Wolong base is not faraway. The old Wolong base is now used to train young pandas to be eventually returned to live in the wild. Some of you may be returning volunteers, being back there will recall many memories of past time spend in their beloved Wolong. Working hours are the same. On the evening of the 13th, it being the last evening for the volunteers, we will have a dinner and a party for the “Masters” Something we have always done which is greatly appreciated by the the base crew.
Feb. 14 – After Breakfast you will transfer to the train station in Chengdu for the hour and a half bullet train ride (top speed almost 200mph) to Chonqing located on the Yangtze River. After arrival you will have have a brief tour of Chonqing and a dinner of Chonqing fare before you are taken to the pier to board our Yangtze cruise ship, the MS Century Sun – www.centuryrivercruises.com Night has fallen when the ship leaves and the lights of Chonqing will soon be behind you. A good time to end the day with a nightcap.
Feb. 15/16 – The next morning the ship docks at Ghost City where you can walk up a mountain, a 30 minutes walk, to the ancient Ghost City Temple at the top from where you have great views of the ship moored in the river below. It is well worth the few hundred steps up to the top. Afterwards, when the ship continues, the river becomes narrower as it approaches the first of the Three Gorges. From there on you sail for the next two days among stupendous scenery with mountains rising straight up to 3000 feet on both sides of the river. At one point, the ship will dock and you will change to a much smaller vessel that takes you up one of the many narrow canyons carved out by mountain rivers that feed into the Yangtze. On the evening of the 15th, the ship will pass through one of the locks of the Yangtze Dam. This can take from two to three hours depending on the traffic. A spectacular experience that may keep you up till midnight.
Feb.17 – Arrive Yichang in the morning. As, when you first boarded the ship where you had to go down a flight of steep steps, you now have to go up them. A good reason to pack light. But you can opt to hire one of the local porters who come aboard in Yichang. On the top your guide and bus will be waiting to take you for a tour of the Three Gorges Dam. It is an amazing sight as you look down of on the locks you passed through he night before. Afterwards you will have lunch in a local eatery after which the group visits the Yichang Museum. Later transfer to the Airport for the hour and a half flight back to Chengdu where you check into the Tibet Hotel. This evening a Sichuan Hot Pot dinner will set you on fire. Don’t expect refined dining, the place is loud and boisterous and the food is hot, no sissy tourist menu is offered. However, there are two pots on the table, one with hot, hot broth, not hot from heat but from the seasonings, the other pot holds, for local Sichuan taste, a milder broth, although “mild” is an understatement.
Feb.18 – This morning we are planning a visit to the Moon Bear Rescue Center near Chengdu.*** The moon bears are black bears with an distinct yellow crescent across their chest. In the past these bears were used for extracting their bile, famous in Chinese medicine. After the bears were captured and caged, they lived miserably lives in cages, for the most part not large enough for them to stand up in or turn around in. This practice is now outlawed and the medicinal properties of the bile are artificially manufactured. Still, there are places where this practice sadly continues. The Moon Bear Rescue Center shelters bears discovered in such facilities. The bears then live happy lives for the rest of their time on this earth. After the visit to the bears, stop for lunch then visit the 2000-year old Dujiangyan Irrigation Project. It is a beautiful place with original Ming Dynasty temples on the mountainside above the river and tea houses alongside the river, and a totally wobbly, 2000-year old rope suspension bridge crossing the river. You can cross it, but of course it has been renewed over the years and the rop cables have been replaced with with steel steel cables covered with rope.
***The Moon Bear Rescue Center has not yet the schedule for 2020. There are two days a week when they offer visits. We have asked them to contact us when the schedule is available. There is no charge to visit the Center, but donations are expected. Posh Journeys and AH Travel China in Beijing will also make a donation.
Feb. 19 – After breakfast visit the very interesting Sichuan Cuisine Museum where you can learn to make chili sauce, the kind that brought tears to your eyes. You also can learn how to make a Sichuan dish perhaps Kung Pao Chicken which has nothing in common with the Kung Pao Chicken you get at home. In the afternoon, take a stroll through the the beautiful People’s Park and sip a cup of tea in one of the tea houses frequented by locals. Do do not expect a fussy High Tea, you are in a local tea house not one set up for the tourists. But you will get a great cup of fragrant tea. The day then ends with a visit to a Chengdu Shu Brocade work shop. Since time eternal, Brocade has been a special art of Chengdu and was once only supplied to Imperial families. The fabrics are nothing short of stunning. A must to see them when in Chengdu. Take some home as a wall-hanging. Not inexpensive, but too beautiful to pass up.
INCLUDED: 11-nights first class hotel accommodations, best available at the panda base, daily breakfast, lunch and dinner. Private guide and driver, all transportation, airport transfers, volunteer work, uniforms, Yangtze cruise, all entry fees for included sightseeing and the services of AH Travel China, Posh Journeys and Richard Blanchette as your tour escort.
NOT INCLUDED: Air Fare, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks with meals,tips to driver and guides, travel insurance and any item not specifically mention in this itinerary.
TOUR COST: $3980.00 per person sharing a double room
SINGLE TOUR COST: $ 4680.00
The tour is limited to 14 participants
If you want us to hold a spot send us an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org