Join us! As we discover a China that is hinted about, and almost never seen!Backroads CHINA

Join us! As we discover a China that is hinted about, and almost never seen!
October 18-November 3, 2002
March 14-28, 2003

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Dear Members and Friends:

Nestled in Southwestern China/ edging 18,000-foot Himalayan peaks, is the most scenic/ spectacular, and culturally rich area in China - Yunnan Province. More distinct ethnic groups live here, drawn through history by the "Burma Road," than in any other area of the country. The area also has enormous biological diversity. Six hundred of the approximately 800 world's azalea species are found here.

Leading this expedition will be Ted Elliman. Ted conducted ecological research in the Province of Yunnan and has taught English there. Joining Ted will be Professor Wang Zhijun from the Kunming Institute of Ecology, Chinese Academy of Sciences. Wang is the leading birder in Southwestern China and works on reforestation and species inventories for new national parks.

Both Ted and Wang look forward to sharing their knowledge, enthusiasm/ and love of Chinese culture and natural history with you. You will meet many other special people, from farmers and herb doctors, to shopkeepers, and monks.

Leaving Kunming/ we will travel toward the Himalayas, Daly and remote Lijiang. We will be totally off the western hotel circuit. In Lijiang, we will discover the Naxi, descendents of Tibetan buddhists, who have developed a distinctive cultural tradition centered on life in the isolated, visually stunning Lijiang Valley. We will then travel to remote Zhongdian at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau recently opened to the outside world, for unforgettable cultural experiences.

Please join us and share this magical land - China that is hinted about; and almost never seen!

    Margaret Betchart, President
    Betchart Expeditions Inc.
    For Sigma Xi & AAAS Travels


Days 1/3 - San Francisco to Hong Kong & Kunming, China

Expedition members depart San Francisco for Hong Kong on Cathay Pacific Airways. Arrive Hong Kong. Morning at leisure before an early afternoon flight across southern China to Kunming in Yunnan Province. Situated on a 6,000 foot plateau near the edge of the tropics, Kunming enjoys delightful spring-like weather and is known across China as the "Spring City." Traditional architecture and abundant trees and shrubs give the neighborhood a feeling of pre-Revolutionary China, while other sections of Kunming have been modernized dramatically. Brief introduction to the city including the central park with lakes, fountains, grottos, and tree-lined paths. Welcome dinner. Green Lake Hotel (3 nights).

Days 4/5 - Dian Chi Lake & Stone Forest

Today visit the West Hills and walk among the Buddhist grottos carved into limestone cliffs on the western edge of Dian Lake. The tops of the grottos offer spectacular views of Dian Lake, surrounding city skyline, houseboats, and the fishing culture. Birds that can be seen fishing are cormorants, redstarts, drongos, and black kites. Other activities include a visit to the Stone Forest and the Botanic Garden.

Day 6 - In the Footsteps of Marco Polo along the Burma Road

Today we will embark on our overland journey in the footsteps of Marco Polo along the Burma Road. Rich in history as a trade route followed by Marco Polo, the Burma Road served for centuries as a connection between India and China. This "Southern Silk Road" was the gateway for spices, foods, ideas, and people for centuries. Arrival in Chuxiong, center of two ethnic minority groups, the Yi and the Hui Muslim people. Afternoon and evening to mingle with the summertime crowds on Chuxiong's tree-lined avenues. Guang Yi Hotel.

Day 7 - Chuxiong to Dali & the Cangshan Mountains

We continue westward on the Burma Road, crossing the eastern outliners of the great Himalayan Range, Inter-mountain valleys support farming villages where we will glimpse the lives of some of China's 800 million peasant farmers. As we approach the 13,000 foot Cangshan Mountains we will notice the distinctive marble homes of the Bai people. As we drive along the edge of Er Hai Lake, we pass the 1,200-year-old "snake bone" pagodas just before entering the orange gates of the walled city of Dali. Dali Hotel (3 nights).

Click mouse to see larger map!Days 8/9 - The Walled Town of Dali

The ancient walled town of Dali is dramatically situated on alluvial plains between the Cangshan Mountains and the long, deep Er Hai Lake. For centuries, visitors to this remote corner of China have praised its mountain-irrigated rice fields, lake-fed fish, and local marblequarried from the foot of the mountains. We'll tour the old town and visit fishing and artist communities on the lakeshore. The outskirts of Dali provide opportunities for pleasant walks through azaleas, magnolias, and pines. Birds may include laughing thrushs, babblers, wheatears, and the beautiful spotted forktail. Evening to enjoy the town and maybe take in a concert or play.

Day 10 - Dali &: Shapin to Lijiang

We will depart this morning for remote Lijiang, the home of the Naxi matriarchal system. En route we will visit a Taoist temple built on a mountainside overlooking Jianchuan. The lofty temples offer spectacular views where we may share a cup of tea with the monks. Late afternoon arrival in Lijiang. Here, the Naxi female elders oversee the community and inherit all property. Children reside in the mother's home and get her family name. Overnight at the Lijiang Finance Hotel or Yu Quan Hotel (3 nights).


Bird. By Narca Moor-CraigDay 11 - Lijiang

The Naxi, descendents of Tibetan Buddhists, have developed a distinctive cultural tradition, centered on life in the isolated, visually stunning, Lijiang Valley. Distinctive mythology, matrilineal descent, and a curious pictographic language distinguish the Naxi from all of Yunnan's other ethnic minority groups. Seventy years ago, American botanist and ethnographer Joseph Rock made Lijiang his adopted homeland and described the area in a series of books and popular articles. Only recently has this region re-opened to the outside world.

In old-town Lijiang, a great place for walking, Naxi women in traditional dress sell produce and homemade goods in the outdoor market. Family shops open onto the canal-lined alleys, and private gardens add color to the streets. In the evening, we may visit a local scholar or attend a musical performance.

Bird. By Narca Moor-Craig Day 12 - Jade Dragon Mountains & Lijiang

During our visit to Lijiang ("beautiful valley"), we'll also explore the Jade Dragon Mountain Range. Our trip northward from Lijiang gives access to spectacular forests, glacial valleys, and alpine pastures where ponies and yak graze surrounded by ancient forests of fir and oak. Naxi and, higher up, the wild Xiaoliangshan ("Small Cool Mountain") Yi people live traditional lives of farming and animal husbandry. From time to time we'll glimpse the Upper Yangtze River flowing as a silver ribbon thousands of feet below, while glaciers or fog-bound crags tower above. We will have opportunities to hike in a wild, alpine landscape and to see crystal clear streams flowing from alpine valleys and bamboo forests and wooden houses with Tibetan prayer flags flying above them.

Day 13 - Lijiang to Zhongdian

This morning we will depart Lijiang for Zhongdian. The road northward from Lijiang descends to the upper Yangtze River near its first "Great Bend." Here the river widens in a broad ford that provided strategic crossings to the 14th Century Mongol armies and more recently to the Communists on their Long March. On the way to Zhongdian, we'll stop to explore Tiger Leaping Gorge where the torrent of the Yangtze, displaced from its ancient course, disappears into a narrow defile between two mountain ranges. With more than 10,000 feet of vertical relief between the mountain summits and the river, this gorge is one of the earth's most spectacular. Here the mighty Yangtze is so compressed that, according to legend, a tiger once leaped across in flight from a hunter. After hiking a short distance into Tiger Leaping Gorge, we'll ascend through spectacular mountain country to Zhongdian, a subalpine valley poised at the edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Zhou Bing Guang or Bita Hotel (3 nights),

Days 14/15 - Zhongdian

Only recently opened to foreigners, the Zhongdian Valley is a center of Tibetan Culture, with a large, recently restored Buddhist monastery and extensive rangelands where local pastoralists graze yak and ponies. Outdoor billiards tables, classical Tibetan village and monastic architecture, and Chinese karaoke restaurants in the New Town create a city of startling contrast. In Zhongdian, we'll take time to explore both by coach and on foot. Since this area is only recently opened, many opportunities exist to explore places little known to Westerners.

Days 16/17 - Zhongdian to Kunming & Home

Morning flight Zhongdian to Kunming. Transfer to the Green Lake Hotel. Afternoon on Day 16 at leisure for personal interests or shopping, Farewell dinner. We'll depart on Day 17 for Hong Kong and the USA, Arrive in San Francisco same day.

Responsibility: Betchart Expeditions Inc., the American Association for the Advancement of' Science (AAAS), and Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, act only as agents for the passenger with respect to transportation and hotels, and exercise every care possible. However, we can assume no liability for injury, damage, delay, loss, accident or irregularity in connection with the services of any airplane, ship, motorcoach, or any other conveyance used in carrying out the arrangements of the tour. We cannot accept any responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, quarantine, acts of God, or other causes beyond our control. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as tour rates provide for arrangements only for the time stated. We reserve the right to substitute another leader of similar expertise. We reserve the right to cancel any tour prior to departure, in which case the entire payment will be refunded with no further obligation on our part. The right is also reserved to decline to accept or retain any person as a member of the tour. No refund will be made for the unused portion of any tour unless arrangements are made in sufficient time to avoid penalties. The price of the program is based on current tariffs and rates, and is subject to change. Any tariff, exchange rate, or fuel increases will be passed on to participants. Baggage is carried at the owner's risk entirely. It is understood that the air ticket when issued shall constitute the sole contract between the passenger and the airline concerned. The airlines concerned are not to be held responsible for any act, omission, or event during the time passengers are not on board their plane or conveyance.

©2001-2002  Betchart Expeditions Inc. All rights reserved. Illustrations by Narca Moore-Craig. cst” 2036304-40


Yes! I/we want to join the Backroads China Expedition,
March 14-28, 2003
offered by AAAS Travels & Sigma Xi Expeditions.
Please reserve ___ space(s). As a deposit, I/we enclose
a check for $__________ ($500 per person) payable to
Betchart Expeditions Inc. Trust Account.

Name(s) ____________________________ Age ________

Address ____________________________ Age ________

City________________ State___________ Zip _________

Phone: Home (____)_________Work (_____)__________

Citizenship: __USA ___Canada Other:_______________
                                                   (please advise)

Member of AAAS? __Yes __No    SigmaXi? __Yes.__No__

Accommodations Preference:
____Twin ____Single ____Nonsmoker ____Smoker

Signature___________________________ Date ________

Signature___________________________ Date ________

Please Mail To:
China Expedition
Betchart Expeditions Inc.
17050 Montebello Road
Cupertino, CA 95014-5435


Costs & Conditions

Trip Fee: $2,995 per person (plus airfare of $1,195 from San Francisco to Kunming, China, round trip. Limited to 28 paying participants.
Questions: Please call Betchart Expeditions Inc., phone (800) 252-4910 or (408) 252-4910. Fax (408) 252-1444. Email:
Expedition Fee Includes: Land transport; airport transfers; flight Zhongdian to Kunming; accommodations twin share; all meals in Yunnan; tips to drivers and local guides; entrance fees; baggage handling; leadership, administration.
Expedition Fee Does Not Include:
International air fare (quoted separately); China visa fee; gratuities to expedition leaders; personal items such as laundry, telephone calls, alcoholic beverages, sodas, snacks, personal insurance; foreign airport departure taxes.
What to Expect: This expedition is planned for travelers who would enjoy exploring the cultural heritage and natural history of the most scenic area in China, Yunnan Province. Leading the expedition will be an excellent American biologist who is conversant in Chinese and who has explored and done research in the area of our expedition. The group will travel 4 to 5 hours by bus or van on each of five days. On traveling days, we will take time for both planned and spontaneous stops to walk, photograph, and talk with local people. Walks will be at a leisurely pace suitable for cultural discovery and natural history study; binoculars are suggested. Food will include a varied Chinese menu.
Weather is pleasant, with midday temperatures in the 70s to upper 80s and some rain. Elevations will range from 3,000 feet along the Yangtze River to 9,000 feet en route to Dali. We will reach 10,000 feet in the Jade Dragon Mountains and at Zhongdian with temperatures in the 50s or 60s. Most time will be spent between 5,000-8,000 feet. This expedition will be a tremendous experience for travelers with an appetite for adventure who would enjoy a chance to explore culturally and biologically rich environments in a remote area of China. Please be flexible concerning time schedules, hotels, food, bumpy roads, and mechanical breakdowns. With this in mind, we will have a grand adventure of discovery in areas rarely seen by western visitors. (No smoking in vehicles, during lectures, or meals, please.)
Air Fare & Airline Ticketing: Air fare quoted is based on a special fare with Cathay Pacific and Dragon Airlines. All air bookings will be handled by Betchart Expeditions Inc. AIR FARES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.
Accommodations: Are in comfortable and clean Chinese hotels based on twin share. Expect a good bed, showers, mostly Western but some Asian style toilets, and carefully prepared food. One hotel is modest, but is the best available. Between hotels, some Asian toilets or bush toilets may be available (some "clean" and some not). Single accommodations are available for a supplement of $375.
Reservations/ Deposits & Payments: Please mail a deposit of $500 per person with the completed reservation form to: Betchart Expeditions Inc., 17050 Montebello Road, Cupertino, CA 95014-5435. You will receive an invoice for the balance which is due July 19, 2001.
Cancellations & Refunds: The initial deposit is refundable up to 90 days before departure less a handling fee of $100 per person. There is no refund after the 90-day period unless your place is resold, then only the $100 per person handling fee is withheld. There are no refunds for unused meals or other expedition features.

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Last updated on May 12, 2002
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