Walks in the Tribal Kingdoms of South China15 - 30 September, 2019

South China
Trip Dates:
15 - 30 September, 2019
Trip Price: £3450 not including international flights
Single Room Supplement: £680
Trip Length: 18 days

Enjoy a number of walks through the beautiful mountainous regions of Southern China, home to many of China’s 56 ethnic minority groups, who over recent generations have been marginalised into these remote lands. This unique journey involves a series of treks (between 6 and 7 hours per day) through this fascinating region whose cultures are fast disappearing under the wheels of China’s economic juggernaut. Autumn is a wonderful time to visit the region as the water-filled rice terraces resemble glistening mirrors and the warm, dry weather with clear skies is conducive to great walking amidst these spectacular landscapes.

The journey begins in the landlocked rural backwaters of China’s Guizhou province, which has been isolated throughout history and is still largely un-spoilt and unaffected by Chinese modernisation. In a region nicknamed Kingdom of the Clouds, dominated by a mountain plateau, pass though areas where few but anthropologists and photographers have been before.


The adventure continues into the Himalayan foothills of northern Yunnan Province, (South of the Clouds), which is home to some of China’s most diverse variations in flora, fauna and ethnicity. Enjoy more hikes in the beautiful countryside that surrounds the ancient towns of Dali and Lijiang. Discover the colourful bustling markets left over from the Southern Silk Route, as the rolling terraced hills give way to jagged snow-capped peaks and where matriarchal clans of the Bai, Naxi, Yi and Mosuo reside amongst the shadows of the sacred Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Walk the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, where a tributary of the Yangtze flushes a narrow ravine through the rocks below, known to be the deepest of its kind in the world. It is here that you begin your ascent into the Tibetan world of Shangri-La, immortalised in James Hilton’s novel The Lost Horizon.


This walks do not require any special technical abilities but will involve about 6 - 7 hours of walking per day over uneven and in places steep ground. Please note the highest the party will ascend in one day of walking is about 600 metres in altitude. However there are occasional steep portions of the trek where you may need to walk ‘up steps’ for about one hour. Walking poles can be very useful. The highest altitude that the party will reach is around 4000 metres in Yunnan and 2100 metres in Guizhou. 

Maximum Party Size: 20

Trip Leader: Dr Jamie Greenbaum

Dr Jamie Greenbaum is currently researching the history of early Chinese utopias and the history of the early State of Yan (the area around and to the north of present-day Beijing). He has travelled widely in China and lectured on both Ancient and Contemporary China

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Walks in the Tribal Kingdoms of South China Trip Comments:

‘This was an absolutely superb trip and I cannot find fault in any aspect. A lot of thought had clearly been put into the walks and destinations to ensure that, though the walks were at times challenging, they were all well within the capabilities of the participants and the sights and places visited were varied. This provided a fascinating insight into the ethnic communities and their way of life in a rapidly changing country.’
‘This was a wonderful trip – there was no aspect we did not enjoy. Dr Greenbaum is simply brilliant and the local guides delightful.’
‘We really had an excellent holiday and would certainly come again with Distant Horizons. The holiday was an excellent mix of good organisation, lovely people (Chinese and UK!), much better hotels than I was expecting, good walking, good guides, food etc.’
‘…add this to the fact that the terrain is wonderful, and the culture fascinating, and you have a recipe for success.  You can also be congratulated for arranging the trip as you did: there was a gradual crescendo in terms both of walking difficulty and scenic wonder.  Altogether, we were very satisfied, so thank you.’