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Trip to Yunnan - Southwest China

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Trip to Yunnan - Southwest China

Postby batesville » Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:09 pm

Hey all, looking for some help.

I am preparing for a trip to Southwest China in about 3 weeks (Feb 16th-March 10th). A few questions for the experiences:

Am I able to rent equipment such as a tent, stove, etc, or should I bring my own gear? Is it worth renting? Is white gas available? Any guides that you know of and/or guide books that you can recommend?


Furthermore, are there any suggestions on things that I can not miss - I am planning on spending most of my time in the Yunnan province...

I know it will be cold, but I cant pass this up!

Thanks!
D
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Re: Trip to Yunnan - Southwest China

Postby Damien Gildea » Wed Jan 23, 2008 10:17 pm

I haven't been there since 2002 and no doubt things have changed, given how quick things are moving there. You can see my climb reports in the 1999 and 2003 AAJs. When I first went to Deqen in 1998 they were just getting used to foreigners, there was hardly anywhere to stay and you weren't allowed across the river. Now there's a backpacker lodge across the river with tours to the glacier. Both times I went Kunming-Lijiang-Zhongdian-Deqen and back, all by public bus.

2002 Lijiang was the only place to buy/hire gear and there wasn't much - one shop in the old town, just on the edge of the main square near a bridge. Definitely no white gas but I bought kerosene from a gas station on the edge of the new town. In Kunming there was a shop that sold outdoor clothing, but no gear. They had Chinese-factory-seconds (not fakes, but oddments) and discontinued stock from MtnHardwear, North Face and Marmot at incredibly low prices, but not much of a selection. Marmot 8000m down suit for $400. Not sure if that is still the case now.

Lonely Planet do a 'Southwest China' guide which is OK, but by the time books come out now things can change so much, especially in China. Check out the Thorn Tree Forum on the lonelyplanet.com website.

You can see some pics of the Meili range on summitpost.org Take a good look there as in real life the peaks are usually hidden by cloud. Outside Lijiang there is now a cable-car up Yulongxueshan, it's the 2nd highest in the world, goes up to 4700m or so. The monastery outside Zhongdian (Shangri La) is also very popular to visit now.

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Postby batesville » Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:29 pm

Thanks Damien,

I couldnt ask for information from anybody better...

I will let you know how things are going over there in a few months...
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Postby atavist » Sat Jan 26, 2008 5:50 am

Are you planning to climb or just tour the province? The advice might be different. Yunnan is a big province. Northwest is very Tibetan but the south is more SE Asian and tropical.

I was in Yunnan for about two weeks last January. Flew to Kunming. Bus to Lijiang and Haba area. The tourism industry is developing but only for basics such as lodging and meals. I didn't see much gear rental so I'm glad I carried my own tent and gear. I did meet some freelance guides in Lijiang who could offer some basic outfitting. You can check at the hostels around town (in particular The Sexy Tractor run by an Irish bloke and his Naxi wife).
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Postby batesville » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:53 pm

Thanks B.

I will look into it when i get there. I appreciate the help.

Some more information on my travels - i kind of put it together recently:

Flying into Dali City (Xiaguan), Going North through Shaxi, Jianchaun, and then into Lijiang. From there I would like to hike through the Gorge, and depending upon time going further north to Shangri-la/Deqin...but This I am not so sure about. On the return trip South I plan to somehoe get into the Nujiang Valley and head south to Nuodeng and then West to Dali to fly home.

Again, this might seem a little bit too much for 17 days, but it is a roughed out plan subect to change when I get to China and see what and how things work.

For the question about the mountains. I would like to get up some peaks, I am, however, not a very experienced climber and for me to do large peaks in the winter would be a very poor decision. Unless there are highly trained guides available and safe conditions, I will probably just stick to trekking. I can always go back when i get more experience under my belt...

Currently, I am planning on bringing my own gear. This will probably be solo. Any thoughts on what were neccessities when any of you went?

Any thoughts on the weather?

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Postby Damien Gildea » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:46 pm

The weather is legendarily bad, though winter is more stable in some areas. You still need to take a good waterproof shell - it rains quite a bit in general.

Get some amoxycillin antibiotics in your first aid kit for serious chest infections etc.

The north side of the Haba area is well worth trekking to, possibly after you trek through TLG west to east. There's an area called 'Black Sea' by the locals which is around 4000m on the N side of Haba Mountain itself. There's a jellyfish-shaped lake there and some old hut ruins. Nice views from little surrounding hills etc. Walk, with hired mules if necessary, from Haba village - there's a woman running a guesthouse there.

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Postby atavist » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:32 am

Although it is advertised as the best trek in south west China, I would discourage hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge itself is pretty spectacular but the trek isn't much of an adventure. The route is easy to follow since it is a well-trodden path with spray-painted arrows, not to mention the colorful graffiti on every large rock inviting you to eat at a 'restaurant 50m ahead' or stay at 'local hotel 100m on left'. Several years ago a road was built through the gorge which is now the main thoroughfare connecting towns on either side. The road is generally out of sight from the trekking route but not by much. The trek stays up on the steep cliffside while the road is much lower near the riverbank. If it weren't for the rushing sound of the water, you'd probably hear traffic throughout the entire trek.

The advertising brings in a lot of tourists, many of whom are enticed to attempt the trek. For anyone who has never hiked before, it probably is ideal. For anyone who has, you'd be better off riding the bus through the gorge and marvel at its depth and grandeur. Then spend your time elsewhere.

Lijiang is a cool place to visit, easily worth 2 full days. I heard that Dali is a cool laid back place. Everyone I met who visited wanted to stay there longer. Damien mentioned Haba and Black Sea. That area is nice to explore and there are guides available in Lijiang if you want to climb the peak (Haba Mountain). It is pretty straight forward and not technically difficult though it is around 17-18000'. Between Haba and Shangri-La is another place called White Water Terrace (BaiShui---). These are similar to some hot spring formations at Yellowstone.

Unless you really intend to do camping, you won't need any gear besides a rain coat. Even on the TLG trek, food and lodging is readily available and very cheap. There is no reason to carry a tent, sleeping bag, or stove. Many of the locals supplement their income by providing these basics for travellers.
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Postby batesville » Mon Jan 28, 2008 6:06 pm

Thanks Guys! I appreciate the time and thought going into the responses.

So it seems from reading these posts that the two things I can expect are rain and the ability to have "support" from the locals involving food and lodging. Good - that will reduce gear.

I hate to keep asking questions, but it seems as though I always have more - and I know most are going to be answered once I get there. As you might be able to tell, this is my first trip to an area in which I will have little familiarity with things such as food, language, and lifestyle. This definitely adds to the excitement, but raises some concern.

It looks as if you both are directing me to spend time further North in the province - towards Haba and Shangri-la. I guess being that we all enjoy mountains, this may be the reason.

In those areas, is it able to cover the distance within a day between the towns on foot, or should I plan to make use of the bus system for the most part? Can you hitch (Feasible and accepted by the locals)? Furthermore, is it as rural as it sounds - will they be able to understand basic English and Phrase-able Mandarin?

With the guide services - I assume that they provide the proper gearing needed- correct?

I also will need a Map - will it be important to pick this up in a larger city, such as Guangzhou or Dali City? I guess with this I will probably find out locally...


I really appreciate the insight on TLG. It seems it is all you read about in the Yunnan province when it comes to hiking.
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Postby pijiu » Mon Jan 28, 2008 9:57 pm

I've been twice to Deqin (Meili Xue Shan - Kawa Karpo), around August-September and I can confirm that it can be very wet at that time of year. But in winter it should be much drier. Have a look at this page if you haven't found it so far : http://www.summitpost.org/area/range/15 ... -Shan.html. It's a stunning area, very recommended.

Except for a few people working in the relatively small tourist industry, people won't understand much english (like nothing!). But don't worry, you'll manage!
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Postby atavist » Tue Jan 29, 2008 3:55 pm

Southern Yunnan should be excellent but very different area. Not Himalayan style mountains, more like SE Asian with elephants and jungle. Definitely warmer in the south. You can't go wrong but have to decide what you want.

The conception of hitching is a bit different in the third world. For example, there aren't many local cars so if you flag someone down, there is a good chance it is a bus or van serving as a bus. In that case, you are expected to pay, especially if you are white. It is a bit silly to try to get a free lift when all the locals are paying to ride a bus while living in utter poverty.

In that area, there aren't too many main roads so a map isn't necessary, per se. It is necessary to know where you are going, but that is oftentimes more easily conveyed if you have a map and you can just point, especially if you don't speak any local language. Outside of Lijiang or Dali, don't expect the locals to speak english or anything but chinese. Some don't even speak mandarin, they speak a local dialect and don't understand 'chinese'. On the other hand, if you stay on the main routes (including TLG), there will be other tourists about and some are probably a bit bilingual.
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Postby batesville » Sat Feb 02, 2008 3:39 am

Thank you all for the help. i am really looking forward to the trip and all your info helped int he planning stage!
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