BIG SNOW MOUNTAIN TO THE BALANG SHAN
ALPINE GARDEN SOCIETY
Botanical Wildlife Tour Holiday Blue Poppies and Mecanopsis in Yunnan and Sichuan with Greentours
Silvery beads of dew shine on the papery petals of the incomparable Blue Poppy high in the mountains of Yunnan and Sichuan. These mountains, bejewelled with so many choice and coveted flowers, including of course several species of Meconopsis in blue, yellow, red and even (just about!) black! So rich and diverse is the flora that some of the greatest plant hunters spent season after season finding a seemingly endless array of plants. Yunnan alone boasts a flora of over fifteen thousand species!
We will see at least six species of slipper orchid, among them colonies of big maroon-pouched Cypripedium tibeticum. Light woodlands are full of the stunning pink saucers of Nomocharis pardanthina. Tucked in among dwarf rhododendrons are two charming lilies, souliei and lophophorum. Rich alpine turf has pink cushions of Diapensia purpurea and carpets of deep purple Primula amethystina. Primulas are a major component of the flora and we'll see at least twenty-five species - delicate dryadifolia, impressive swathes of sikkimensis and secundiflora along rushing streams, and acres of the dazzling magenta Primula bulleyana around highland lakes. Golden mats of Androsace bisulca colour the granite boulder landscapes of the Haizi Shan. Woodlands have Pleione bulbocodoides, Pleione yunnanensis and Pleione aurita, and blankets of Androsace rigida in various shades of pink. Around Tengchong we’ll be visiting one of the favoured haunts of that most determined of plant hunters, George Forrest, where he collected many species of rhododendrons notably Rhododendron glischrum with huge trusses of pink flowers and Rhododendron sinogrande beset with pale cream flowers and extraordinary huge paddle-shaped leaves. Stunning scarlet Rhododendron neriiflorum, big leaved Rhododendron lacteum, and showy white Rhododendron pachypodium are just some of the Rhododendrons we’ll see on the Cang Shan.
Ernest Wilson, an indefatigable plant hunter scoured western Sichuan for exciting flora in the early 1900s finding plant after fine plant including the Red Poppywort however, it was Wilson’s rival Frank Kingdom-Ward who first found the mysterious black primula, originally far to the west, but now rediscovered in Sichuan and we’ll see this extraordinary flower alongside the inflated pouches of Cypripedium calcicola. Here is electric-blue Corydalis curviflora, fantastic Corydalis pachycentra, pale blue Paraquilegia microphylla and red-bracted Ajuga lupulina. We’ll visit lamaseries and enjoy the different styles of houses that decorate the tidy pastoral landscapes coloured by fields of Anemones and more than sixty species of many-hued Pedicularis. More primulas include the bizarre spidery red-brown Primula tangutica and swathes of vivid orange Primula cockburniana. Deepest purple Iris chrysographes blooms in grasslands with drifts of deep pink Incarvillea mariei. Paeonia veitchii, Sinododophyllum haxandrum, Asarums, impossibly delicate Corydalis flexuosa, and an impressive range of Cobra Lilies including Arisaemas wilsonii, ciliatum, concinnum and consanguineum inhabit atmospheric woodlands along with huge Cardiocrinum giganteum and Calanthe tricarinata. The woods also hold many Primulas with the delicate red-pink umbels of Primula heucherifolia, and the white-centred pink blooms of Primula moupinense and Primula sonchifolia, amongst the prizes. The mossy woodlands on meadows hold a rich variety of Rhododendrons including lavender blue augustinii, pink balangense, phaeochrysum and yunnanense and we’ll hope to see the lovely yellow purple-tessellated bells of Fritillaria davidii. Back on the passes we’ll see spectacular species such as Primula melanops and Primula woodwardii, and on the edge of larch woodlands capitate-headed species like Primula violacea and Primula deflexa.
Flowers. Also Birds and Culture.
Easy to occasionally moderate. Always at a relaxed pace and usually two to four miles in a day, occasionally up to eight miles. Please note that the tour averages an altitude of over 10,000 feet and we will regularly reach 13,000-15,000 feet. The first few days are at the lower end of this scale allowing time to acclimatise to the altitude.
Included in the Price
All flights. All transport, meals and accommodation inChina. Services of your leaders. Please note: drinks, tips, and items of a personal nature including insurance, are not included.
The minimum is 5 and the maximum is 11. Only one leader will accompany a group of 7 or less.
Most 'new hotels' in China are generic, with wall to wall carpets, en suite marble bathrooms and two beds, together with some peculiar light switch arrangements and usually tea/coffee making facilities. So, clean and comfortable, but not over-endowed with character. All have en suite facilities with western-style toilets.
UK return flights are from London Heathrow to Chengdu. From Chengdu there is an internal flight to Baoshan. Other indirect routes from regional UK Airports* are available.
*These routes may incur a supplement.
This tour is to a high mountain area so we can expect a variety of conditions from strong alpine sunshine to wind, rain or hail at times. It will never be excessively hot on the tour as we don’t descend below six thousand feet, but it can still get quite warm.
How to Book
Contact us to check there is availability for the number of places you require. Download a booking form or contact us and we will send one to you. Complete and send to us. You will receive confirmation of your place and then a detailed information pack will be dispatched to you about twelve weeks before departure.