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Sixteen trips, seven provinces: a review of our 2011 Long Distance trips

Click here to see the 2012 Long Distance trips main page.

In 2011 we did sixteen special long distance trips, visiting interesting and scenic locations outside of Beijing.

Some of the trips were weekend excursions; most of them were for four days; and the longest was seven days. In the big October holiday, we linked two of them together and were on the road for a total of eleven days.

Below, you'll find a list of the trips we made outside Beijing in 2011, with links to see photos taken at each of the places we visited.

We've indicated when each of those trips will take place in 2012, and right at the end you'll find our provisional schedule for long distance trips in 2012. We're visiting many of the same places, and have added in a few places we didn't get to in 2011.

If you're interested in any (or all!) of the trips listed below, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). We'll add you to the notification list and will send you updated information as soon as we have it.

2011 Long Distance trip highlights

Wuyuan, Jiangxi ProvinceBeijing Hikers Wuyuan hike
We timed our visit to Wuyuan, in the southern province of Jiangxi, for the blooming of the vast fields of yellow rapeseed flowers, but also made sure to get a good look at the lifestyle, food, architecture, and historical sites of the local area.
Photos » Photos from the trip to Wuyuan, late April, 2011

We'll be heading to Wuyuan again in late March of 2012.

Ancient Walled City of Pingyao, Shanxi ProvinceTower, Beijing Hikers Pingyao Trip
Strolling the narrow lanes of the old city of Pingyao we found residences, shops, government offices, and banks preserved in the original Ming and Qing Dynasty style, all surrounded by the thick and tall city walls that were constructed in AD 1370. Outside the walls lie the Shuanglin Temple and the massive Wang Family compound, which we visited by bike. We made three visits to Pingyao in 2011. Follow the link to see photos from our visit in May.
Photos » Pingyao, Shanxi Prov., May 2011

We'll visit Pingyao twice in 2012 – once in early August, then again in late October.

Tengger Desert Lakes, Inner MongoliaTengger Desert
On the Tengger Desert Lakes trip we spend two days deep in the desert, camping overnight, and travelling through the dunes by jeep, camel, and on foot. We fly into Ningxia before driving over the border to Inner Mongolia. In Ningxia we visit the Western Xia Imperial Tombs, and there's also Han Dynasty and Ming Dynasty Great Wall to get a look at in the mountains between Yinchuan and Bayanhaote. We made three visits in 2011. Our last visit for the year was in August – click through to see all the photos.
Photos » Beijing Hikers in the Tengger Desert, August 2011

In 2012, we plan to do the Tengger Desert Lakes trip in late April and mid-June.

Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu ProvinceHikers in Zhangye
The Zhangye Danxia Landform is a stunning scenic location that is still fairly difficult to get to. The highlight is the landform itself, the colours of which have to be seen to be believed. We visited twice in 2011: once in May, the second time in October. Follow the link to see photos from the October trip.
Photos » Zhangye Danxia Landform trip, October 2011

In 2012 we plan to visit the Zhangye Danxia Landform in late May and mid-October, timed for the Labour Day holiday and the end of October's Golden Week. We're planning to add an extra day to the itinerary, making it five days in total.

Bashang Grasslands, Hebei Province
The Bashang Grasslands are a five-hour drive from Beijing, and a good place to visit on a long weekend. Higher up and much cooler than Beijing City, Bashang is particularly nice during summer.
Photos » Beijing Hikers Bashang Grasslands, June 2011

In 2012 we'll be making trips to Bashang in June, July, August, and September.

Hulunbuir Grasslands, Inner Mongolia
We made our first group visit to Hulunbuir in September, 2011. The vast grasslands are rated as some of the best-preserved on the planet. We did a good amount of walking about in the prairie, and got very close to the border of China and Russia, where we saw the very interesting mixture of culture from both countries.
Photos » Hulunbuir Grasslands trip, July 2011

We're heading back to Hulunbuir in July, 2012.

Journey from the West, Xinjiang and Gansu Province
This is the longest single trip we do – seven days following the northern spur of the Silk Road, visiting some of the key stops along the old trading route and covering an amazing amount of territory. We did it in jeeps. Imagine doing it by camel!
Photos » Beijing Hikers' 2011 Journey from the West

In 2012, we'll be doing the Journey from the West during the big October holiday.

Lijiang and Shangri-La, Yunnan ProvinceLijiang, Yunna, China
We did our first group trip to Lijiang and Shangri-La in November, 2011, timing it to miss the peak tourist season but getting there before it got too chilly. We walked the cobbled lanes of ancient towns, did a little hiking in the countryside, and got a good look at some of the traditions of the Naxi and Tibetan ethnic culture—all the while with snow-capped mountains as a beautiful backdrop.
Photos » Photos from our November 2011 visit to Lijiang and Shangri-La in Yunnan Province

We'll be doing the trip to Lijiang and Shangri-La again in November 2012.

2012 Long Distance trip schedule
Below is the draft of our 2012 long distance trip schedule. We don't expect any major changes to it, but in 2011 we had to make a few changes to departure and return dates when flight schedules were updated.

Long Distance trips 2012 schedule

We've got a whole lot of trips outside Beijing and all around China planned for 2012. The dates listed are solid, but if flight schedules are changed we may have to update our plan. In 2011 we had to make slight changes to an itinerary because of a change to flight timetables. Fingers crossed 2012 stays change-free!

DateTripPhotos

March 22–25

Wuyuan, Jiangxi Province
Vast fields of yellow flowers and ancient river towns in southern China. Cultural focus, nothing too strenuous.

Photos from our 2011 visit to Wuyuan

April 11–14

Huashan and the Terracotta Warriors, Shaanxi Province
New! Two days of tough hiking and an overnight stay and on steep-sided Huashan, with a visit to the Terracotta Warriors and Xi'an city.

Photos coming soon!

April 29–May 2

Tengger Desert Lakes
Travel by foot and jeep through the desert, visit desert lakes, ride camels, camp in the desert, and more.

Photos from our August 2011 visit to the Tengger Desert

May 18–20

Ancient Walled City of Pingyao, Shanxi Province
Guided tours of the alleys, thoroughfares, and the key historical sites; an easy hike outside the city walls.

Photos from our May 2011 visit to Pingyao

May 23–27

Zhangye, Gansu Province (5 days)
Fantastically-coloured mountains and cliffs in an all-but unexplored area of Gansu; Jiayuguan Fortress and Great Wall, and more.

Photos from our October 2011 visit to Zhangye

June 5–10

Urumqi and Korle (6 days), Xinjiang
New! Seldom-visited area of Xinjiang, details to be translated!

No photos yet!

June 14–17

Tengger Desert Lakes
Travel by foot and jeep through the desert, visit desert lakes, ride camels, camp in the desert, and more.

Photos from our August 2011 visit to the Tengger Desert

June 22–24

Bashang Prairie, Hebei Province
Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

Photos from our June 2011 visit to Bashang

July 12–15

Hulunbuir Grasslands, Inner Mongolia
Fresh air and the endless green grasslands of the best preserved prairie in China. Trip includes hiking and a visit to a border town that contains a curious mix of Chinese and Russian culture.

Photos from our 2011 visit to Hulunbuir

July 20–22

Bashang Prairie, Hebei Province
Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

Photos from our June 2011 visit to Bashang

July 25–29

Kashgar and Lake Karakul, Xinjiang (5 days)
Explore Kashgar city; hike around Lake Karakul and in the foothills of Mt. Muztagh-Ata.

August 10–12

Ancient Walled City of Pingyao, Shanxi Province
Guided tours of the alleys, thoroughfares, and the key historical sites; an easy hike outside the city walls.

Photos from our May 2011 visit to Pingyao

August 17–19

Bashang Prairie, Hebei Province
Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

Photos from our June 2011 visit to Bashang

August 23–26

A'ershan Forest National Park
Explore the A’ershan National Forest Park, a natural reserve that contains volcanic landscapes, mountaintop lakes, deep forests, grasslands, rivers, and mineral-rich springs.

September 7–9

Bashang Prairie, Hebei Province
Clean and cool grasslands near the border of Hebei and Inner Mongolia: hikes, BBQ lamb, and more.

Photos from our June 2011 visit to Bashang

September 30–
October 6

Xinjiang: Journey from the West
See the sights along a key stretch of the northern Silk Road, visiting Urumqi, Turpan, Hami, Dunhuang, and Jiayuguan. Camp a night in the Gobi Desert and see the ancient Han Dynasty Great Wall; visit Turpan's Grape Valley; view the Buddhist artwork in the Mogao Grottoes; and explore Jiayuguan, the outpost at the western end of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall. Trip Journey can be extended to include the Zhangye trip.

Photos from our 2011 Journey from the West

October 6–9

Zhangye, Gansu Province (4 days)
Fantastically-coloured mountains and cliffs in an all-but unexplored area of Gansu; Jiayuguan Fortress and Great Wall, and more. Hiking and photography focus. Trip can be added on to the end of the Journey from the West.

Photos from our October 2011 visit to Zhangye

October 19–21

Ancient Walled City of Pingyao, Shanxi Province
Guided tours of the alleys, thoroughfares, and the key historical sites; an easy hike outside the city walls.

Photos from our May 2011 visit to Pingyao

October 31–
November 3

Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong, Sichuan Province
New! Visit the deservedly famous Jiuzhaigou National Park and then head on to nearby Huang Long, an equally scenic but less well-known area of still ponds and coloured rocks.

Photos coming soon!

November 14–18

Lijiang and Shangri-La, Yunnan Province
(5 days)

See the highlights of Lijiang and Shangri-La - the cobbled streets and watercourses of ancient towns, country roads and fields around small settlements, Naxi culture, and amazing views of snow-capped mountains. Cultural focus, nothing too strenuous.

Photos from our 2011 visit to Lijiang and Shangri-La

If you're interested in any (or all!) of the trips listed, please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). We'll add you to the notification list and will send you updated information as soon as we have it.

Were you on this hike or trip? How did you like it? Please send us your comments about what was good and/or what we could do a better job of. We'd love to hear from you!

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