Adventures in Shangri-La route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $10,895  
Length: 22 days
Arrive: Chengdu, China
Depart: Shangri-La, China
Lodging: 21 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included except 3 dinners
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Walking
Trip Level: Overland travel with walking tours, cultural explorations, optional light hikes


  • Join locals for horse racing and folk dancing at the spirited Horse Racing Festival in Shangri-La
  • Walk amid picturesque alpine lakes and dense forest at spectacular Mugecuo Scenic Park
  • Explore Danba’s Tibetan villages with their soaring watchtowers, visit with a local family
  • View magnificent pandas at Bifengxia Panda Base

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Combine this adventure with our Journey to the Roof of the World (June 24-July 4, 2015) and receive a $700 discount!

Lost Horizon author James Hilton introduced us to a magical place called Shangri-La—a place of awe-inspiring beauty where inhabitants lived for centuries. It is believed that Hilton’s fictional Shangri-La was inspired by National Geographic articles depicting the incredible landscape of eastern Tibet. Our journey to Shangri-La with beloved Trip Leader Roger Williams takes you through spectacular landscapes of snow-capped peaks, and endless grasslands, including UNESCO World Heritage site Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve, with its breathtaking waterfalls and turquoise lakes. Traditional Tibetan villages dot the landscape on our way to visiting the first Buddhist temple in China, set atop Mt. Emei, and Songzanlin Monastery with its colorful murals, gold statues, and rare Buddhist scriptures. And beyond the magnificent landscape, our adventure with Roger gives you special glimpses into local Tibetan life.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4, June 3-6
Chengdu / Ya’an

In Chengdu we visit the Chengdu Panda Base, a nonprofit dedicated to researching and breeding endangered pandas, the archaeological site of Jinsha and its museum, and enjoy a Sichuan Opera performance. Heading to Ya’an, we take part in a panda volunteer program at the Bifengxia Panda Base, a lush 1,000-acre reserve that is home to more than 80 pandas, and hike in the Bifengxia Gorge, with its bubbling brooks and spectacular waterfalls.

Days 5-7, June 7-9

Dense forest, bubbling hot springs, and dramatic peaks characterize Hailuogou Glacier Park, where we feast our eyes on the dramatic 9-mile-long Hailuogou glacier, set beneath snow-capped Mt. Gongga (24,790’). In Kangding, the capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, we get a glimpse into local life at a bustling produce market before heading to Mugecuo Scenic Park for a walk around one of its clear alpine lakes.

Days 8-9, June 10-11
Danba (5,906’)

On our way to Danba, Tibetan villages of traditional white houses with red lacquer doors dot the landscape, while cattle and sheep graze the stunning green grasslands. The remote Tibetan villages in the Danba region are legendary for their soaring watchtowers and traditional fortress-like houses scattered along steep mountainsides. During our visit to villages like Jiaju, set beneath snow-capped mountains and surrounded by sprawling fields, we visit with a local Tibetan family for an in-depth look at the unique customs of these people.

Days 10-13, June 12-15
Maerkang / Chuanzhusi (11,975’) / Jiuzhaigou

Our travels bring us past Zhibo watchtower, a 140-foot-tall stone tower built during the Qing Dynasty, the shimmering waters of Moon Bay, and the greenery of the Hongyuan grasslands. We head to Jiuzhaigou, “Nine Village Valley,” a secluded area inaccessible until 1975, and explore and hike in Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve & National Park, a World Heritage Site that’s a wonderland of jagged peaks, old growth forests, and alpine lakes. In Shuzheng, we’ll have lunch with a local family at their home.

Days 14-16, June 16-18
Chengdu / Mt. Emei

We fly back to Chengdu, then visit the Leshan Buddha, the largest stone statue of Maiytreya in the world, before heading to Mt. Emei. Traditionally known as a place of enlightenment, Mt. Emei is one of four sacred Buddhist mountains, famed as the place where Buddhism started in China. We explore ancient temples built into hillsides and take in spectacular views of mist-shrouded peaks.

Days 17-19, June 19-21

In Shangri-La (formerly known by its Tibetan name, Gyalthang), we visit Songzanlin Monastery, with its shimmering gold roof and hand-painted frescoes, and hike in Pudacuo National Park, nestled deep in the mountains of northwest Yunnan. On one day we attend the annual Horse Racing Festival, a lively traditional celebration where Tibetan herdsmen gather to participate in a variety of equestrian competitions. We’ll join the locals to watch horse racing, with the opportunity to meet some of the local riders, and enjoy dinner in a Tibetan family home.

Days 20-22, June 22-24
Gujiunong / Depart

Our journey brings us along the ancient Tea Horse Road connecting Tibet, Nepal, and India. We watch the sun rise over Kawagebo—the highest of 20 peaks in the stunning Meili Snow Mountains and one of the most sacred of Tibetan Buddhism in China—and visit a peaceful Tibetan village. We return to Shangri-la on Day 21 and depart on Day 22.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 3, Moderate. This is not designed as a hiking trip, but we’ll enjoy full days of exploring sites on foot, with a few optional exploration walks of several hours. While this trip is not expected to be physically strenuous, there are several days with drives of 3-8 hours, and transportation conditions may be demanding. Overland travel is in minivans and small buses, depending upon the size of the group. We are at altitudes of more than 10,000 feet for a few days, with excursions that take us a bit higher. Individuals vary widely in their physical response to high altitude. It is not uncommon to experience mild headaches or sleeplessness for a day or two when you first arrive at high altitude. For your own enjoyment, we recommend that you make a special effort to be in good physical condition. We believe that the most important requirements are a spirit of adventure and the understanding that you are visiting a country where tourism infrastructure can vary greatly between regions.

Explanation of Trip Levels


Departures & Leaders

Jun 3-24, 2015  Roger Williams

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$10895 (10-14 members)
$11795 (8-9 members)
$12795 (6-7 members)
Single supplement: $2295
Forced single supplement: $2295
Internal airfare: $520 (subject to change)
more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

More than 90 days prior to departure: No charge!
90-46 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader
  • Accommodations in hotels
  • All meals included except 3 dinners
  • Sightseeing and land transportation as noted in the itinerary
  • Airport transfers

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, internal flights (see separate cost above), airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors; pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.)

Roger Williams

In 1986, Roger Williams led his first Wilderness Travel trip. Nearly 30 years later, he shows no sign of stopping, with added trips filling up quicker than the one before. If it isn’t the surplus of knowledge Roger brings when he leads a trip that makes it so unique, including his cultural insight to places like Nepal (where he spent eight years studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist iconographics, Himalayan languages, and woodblock art) and Japan (where he spent another two years studying Japanese woodblock art, Japanese language, and Shingon Shu, an esoteric sect of Japanese Buddhism), then it may be his awareness for cultural preservation that keep clients coming back. In July 2014, he returned from The Great Game journey, a special Wilderness Travel Expedition that included visits to the Wakhan Valley as well as Mazar i-Sharif and Balk (formally Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. Roger has also been working as a technical advisor with USAID consulting in tourism development projects in Mongolia, Armenia and Croatia. When not leading trips, Roger is the director of Snow Lion Graphics/SLG Books in Berkeley, California, a publishing house specializing in books and calendars relating to Asian cultures. “There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger,” one client wrote after her Central Asia Explorer trip with Roger. “His knowledge, energy planning, and attentiveness are superlative.”

Upcoming Trips:

Journey to the Heart of China, April 5-30, 2015
Adventures in Shangri-La, June 3-24, 2015
Journey to the Roof of the World, June 24-July 4, 2015
Central Asia Explorer, August 23-September 15, 2015
Iran: The Land of Cyrus the Great, September 15-28, 2015
China's Wild Southwest, October 13-November 4, 2015
India's Malabar Coast, January 27-February 20, 2016
Iran, March 10-April 2, 2016
Trans-Caucasus Adventure, May 20-June 13, 2016
The Great Game, September 2016
Wonders of Nepal, October 2016
Eastern Bhutan and India's Wild Northeast Frontier, November 2016

Client Testimonials:

Tibet is a place like no other on the planet! Roger’s language skills and knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism opened many doors. Connie D., Alamo CA
Heart of Tibet
Exceedingly knowledgeable, very caring. Priscilla and Franklin O., Malvern PA
Mystical Bhutan
Roger knows how to run a trip. He’s very organized and clearly communicates the daily plan. Also, he's a lot of fun and I was impressed with his expertise on Buddhist iconography. Fran M., Mill Valley, CA
Hidden Himalayas
Roger is remarkable. This trip showed him at his best. We could never have traveled across the roof of the world without his preparation and energy. Thanks for a grand experience! Ruth and Frank H., Edmonds WA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger takes good care of his travelers and we learned a lot about the people, their culture, and history. His love for this part of the world is infectious. Ruth G., Del Mar CA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger is great! Hard working, knowledgeable, personable. He really makes a difference. Bill R., Walnut Creek, CA
Passage to India
I can understand why Roger has such a big following. He worked all the time to make the trip the best it could be. Marsha S., New York, NY
The Great Game
Roger is clearly a well-seasoned professional. He is passionate about India and it shows everyday, whether it is interacting with the locals or talking about the iconographics and sites. Grace L., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Exceptional dedication, passion, and professionalism. Roger has the right personality and attitude for this. Jonathan T., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Roger is a wealth of knowledge and very well traveled. He takes his duties as trip leader extremely seriously and goes out of his way to please each client. Terri H., Berkeley, CA
Armenia and Beyond
Roger provided a unique and enjoyable travel experience. His knowledge and familiarity with the sites visited and enthusiasm for these countries and peoples made this a great travel experience. Judy A., Davis, CA
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
Roger's extensive travel experience and knowledge of Asian culture and Buddhism greatly enhanced the trip. And all the planning he did before and during the trip ensured an excellent itinerary and made everything run smoothly. Nancy R., Walnut Creek, CA
Tribal China
There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger. His knowledge, energy planning, and attentiveness are superlative. Debra B., Jackson, WY
Central Asia Explorer
Roger is the best tour leader with lots of experiece and profound knowledge of the subject area. Kudos to him and WT. Tan Kiet T., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tribal China
Roger has tremendous skills as a trip leader. He has a real gift with people and his relationship with local guides enriches the areas we visit. Joan L., Baltimore, MD
Journey to the Heart of China
Roger is simply a brilliant organizer and always finds the very best services available. He also brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to anything Asian. Elizabeth M., Providence, RI
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
I'm struck again with the magnitude of the incredible adventure you led us on. I have pretty much traveled the world since that trip, with adventures galore...but nothing has, or ever will, compare to it. Aleen S., Cedar Mountain, NC
The Great Silk Road
Roger is an exceptional trip leader with an historian's grasp of the influences shaping this part of the world. Kathe W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was nothing short of outstanding as a trip leader...managing people as well as logistics of a 25+ day intensive trip. He has a clear desire to share his knowledge, interest, and excitement about Southeast Asia. We've had a lot of good Trip Leaders and I'd rate Roger as #1 on my list. Greg W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was well organized, with careful planning and terrific knowledge of the culture and religion. His interaction with the group was unlike anything we have experienced on prior trips. He is a real treasure for WT, one of your best. Donald H., Farmington, CT
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger is a flexible leader who listens to his travelers and absolutely cannot do enough for people. He looked after us well and programmed as much variety into the trip as possible. Mary R., New York, NY
Trans-Caucasus Adventure
Roger is amazing! His knowledge of the history and culture of the area is extensive and he can recall all sorts of information on any number of subjects. His enthusiasm, kindness, and energy never wane. Jane F., Naples, FL
The Great Game