Every year at the end of November, there is a unique chance to experience one of the ultimate expressions of the colorful Yunnanese minority culture from up close. This trip takes us into the midst of the southern Yunnanese jungles and mountains, rice fields and villages. Groups of Yao, Dai, Yi and Hani people outnumber the Han Chinese by far. Settlements are remote and hidden away from big developments. People still live in a traditional fashion and are very happy to welcome foreign guests. This tour takes us to the heartland of the Red River Hani people, who celebrate their New Year Day on November 30th. It will allow us to celebrate the Hani New Year by participating in a famous festival which features a 3000-table long feast.
We hold the authority to make slight changes to the program depending on the conditions.
We start our trip on the Yunnan-Guizhou plateau, in Kunming. In November, the weather in this part of Yunnan has turned into autumn. It can be chilly in the night time, but usual daylight temperatures are around 15-20 degrees Celcius. Usually, this part of the year is dry season, so if it rains it will not be like that for days on end.
In the Ailaoshan Mountains it can be very changeable. It typically has much more rain and can be slightly chilly at those times. But overall it can be really pleasant cycling weather, not too hot, not too cold. We can adjust the itinerary slightly now and than based on the micro climates.
We end the trip in Xishuangbanna which is typically more warm and humid. It can actually get very hot during this time of year. But typically, it will just be pleasant, around the 25 degrees during day time and not cooling off so much during the night. Minimal temperatures hover around the 10-15 degrees.
This trip is advertised for intermediately fit cyclists. Or at least people who are passionate about cycling. We will arrange a separate following vehicle carrying all the cycling gear and the luggage, so we can adjust the cycling distances for each individual participant of the trip. Cycling will all be on cherry picked roads with good surface, nice scenery and little traffic. The minimum and maximum amount of kilometers of cycling per day will look like this:
The best will be to bring your own bicycle, but we can arrange rental gear (bikes, helmets, gloves) through our very trusted bicycle shop in Kunming. There will be tools, a spare bike, separate spare parts and oil in the car to maintain the bikes on the way. We will have at least one expert with us on the trip who can do intermediately complicated bicycle mending.
We will be staying in 3/4 star hotels along our route.
We’ll be traveling with 2 separate vehicles, both maximally insured and operated by certified professional drivers. One of the vehicles will be for our guests and their hand luggage, but we will also have a following vehicle with all the bicycle gear and the pieces of large luggage to check in. This arrangement makes us the fastest and the most flexible possible on this itinerary.
On this trip, you’ll be guided in person by Zouba Tours founder Frank Hitman. Frank moved to Yunnan in 2007. While working on theater and education projects in local schools, he instantly felt a strong fascination for the place and its people. It was after having mastered Mandarin, that he began to thoroughly appreciate the stories behind Yunnan’s diversity. He became passionate about providing the “perfect introduction”, to the area, while benefiting everyone involved, not only the traveler, but also the locals and their environment. Frank currently divides his time between Yunnan, Amsterdam and Thailand. He is particularly excited to guide this trip because it is one of his oldest itineraries. This route design is basically the result of years and years of fine tuning, and Frank believes this is one of the best possible trips to do in Southern Yunnan, particularly for people who like cycling, want to see the rice terraces, and are interested in minority culture.
The Stone Forest area is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Yunnan. We will not go to the official park. The best way to explore the area is by bike. We set out from Kunming by car for and after about an hour of eastward travel, we’ll start cycling over a smooth asphalt road climbing some rolling hills up and down. The road will take us through some really beautiful traditional Sani Yi settlements and we’ll take the time to take in the view over some small lakes. There is a chance to climb some of the stone formations that have eroded over time.
At the end of the morning we’ll arrive at our friend’s house. He is an active member of the local bull fighting community. In contrast to Spanish bull fighting, the Yi bull fighting will not result in killing the animals. The game has exciting rodeo elements. We will feed one of our friend’s giant buffaloes and take him for a walk to the other side of the village, where he will go for a bath. After this, we will continue by bike for another few kilometers to a fabulous Yi restaurant in the neighborhood.
After lunch, we’ll visit a village which is full with murals about a local myth about a Sani girl called “Ashima”. Ashima is the subject of the first color movie in China, and we’ll learn all about her. There is an option to do more cycling after the village if there is time. We’ll stay in a lovely guesthouse in a village close to Mile.