Dates: Yours to choose
Muni Valley, Ruoergai grasslands, Tiewu village, Draga-na Gorge
Private vehicle with driving distance 1200 KM (Return)
Starts and end in Chengdu
Only one hour's drive out of Chengdu and you will enter the mountains that begin the approach to the Tibetan Plateau. Your route follows a mountain canyon through the towns of Wenchuan and Maoxian where you will still see evidence of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake if you look carefully. Lunch will be enjoyed in the highland town of Songpan which still has a Tibetan style feel not unlike the wild west of America. Following lunch, you'll have a 30 min drive to neighbouring Muni Valley where you'll settle in to the comfort of Tibetan hospitality. The afternoon is ahead of you to enjoy the remote beauty and explore the paths around the village and ridges above. Distance: 280km.
Today you'll continue further up and further in to the Tibetan Plateau and the grasslands of Ruoergai that support Tibet's ancient nomadic cuture. You'll see herds of sheep, goats, and yak spread out over miles of grassland spotted by the black tents of nomadic herders. Lunch will be enjoyed at the grassland outpost of Ruoergai, before continuing on across the vast plateau to reach the valley of Tiewu and the hospitality of Tsering's family home by dinner time. Distance: 320km.
After breakfast, Tsering will introduce you to the local culture as you tour the village and see the local women hard at work in the fields. Along the way, the surrounding pine forests and mountains make for many breathtaking views. Tiewu valley is known for the deer that live in the forest and it is a rare guest that doesn't catch sight of them. After lunch, a short hike to a nearby peak will afford a sweeping view of the whole valley. After a rest in the afternoon you'll have the option of making Tibetan momos (meat, vegetable, or potato filling wrapped in dough) along with Tsering and her family for dinner.
Today there is an optional half-day hike in a stunning gorge in an adjacent valley, with a picnic lunch prepared to enjoy in the outdoors. For those who simply prefer to relax in the quiet and comfort of Tsering's home with a good book, that is allowed as well. In the evening Tsering will offer a short introduction to Tibetan cooking for those who are interested, while those merely interested in tasting it are welcome too. Traditional yak butter tea will also be available for the truly strong in heart (and stomach)!
After breakfast it is a 90min drive to the quaint tourist town of Langmusi . The Bailong River forms the border between Sichuan and Gansu and separates both the town and the valley into north (Gansu) and south (Sichuan). The Buddhist monasteries on each side of the valley offer beautiful views of surrounding mountains with alpine meadows and forests. There is also a muslim community in town which means Langmusi is a diverse mix of three cultures: Han Chinese, Tibetan, and Hui. After visiting the monasteries and enjoying the scenery, you'll enjoy some Muslim style noodles before settling into your guesthouse for the evening. Distance 80km.
Rested and refreshed after several days in the mountains, this morning begins your reluctant departure back to Chengdu. During your scenic drive out of the mountains, descending the countless canyons and switchbacks through mountain villages, you'll be reminded again why Tibet has remained so cut off from the rest of the world for much of history. Lunch will be provided enroute and a celebratory dinner will be enjoyed together upon arrival back in Chengdu near the Jinli Ancient Street. Distance: 520km.