China: Guilin and Yangshuo

China: Guillin and Yangshuo

CHINA
GUILIN AND YANGSHUO
 

31 Oct – 10 Nov 2019

11 days/6 days cycling/312km

South West China’s Guilin region is the China one often imagines: hardy farmers tilling lush rice paddies with water buffaloes, bamboo lined emerald rivers snaking through farmland and pine forest, mist swept limestone peaks and ancient villages dot the countryside. It’s no wonder the region has been favoured by poets and painters for centuries.

Our ride begins in the small township of Ziyuan, populated by the Dong Minority group, and follows a route through the Yuecheng Mountains, famous for the impressive Longji, Dragon’s Backbone, and Rice Terraces where we’ll meet the friendly Zhuang, Yao and Miao people that have literally carved out their living on the mountainsides.

An undoubted highlight is cycling through the thousands of limestone karst peaks and ancient villages along the Li River. We’ll jump on bamboo rafts for the most spectacular sections along the river before cycling into Yangshuo – the regions famous laid back backpacker hub – where east meets west in rural China.

 

Itinerary

Day 1Thursday 31 October
Depart London Heathrow to Guilin via Hong Kong or Beijing.
Day 2Friday 1 November
Welcome to China! Arriving at Guilin – one of China’s prettier cities – makes for an interesting place to spend a day or two. With plenty of restaurants and eating options, shopping strips and cafes it’s a good chance to see how the local urbanites spend their evenings all against a backdrop of the area’s stunning Karst mountains. A 3hr transfer to our first night accommodation at the Bajiaozhai National Park and we’ll meet the team and answer any questions before a Chinese banquet dinner.
Day 3Saturday 2 November
Bajiaozhai NP • 2/3hr hike
Today we visit the recently listed UNESCO heritage Bajiaozhai National Park, famed for its unique red sandstone karst formations, and hike up to the Buddhist temples (1800 STEPS) on the highest peak for incredible views. After the hike, we’ll set up the bikes for the start of the ride tomorrow. And then we will settle in for a local farmer’s banquet and a taste of the local rice wine.
Day 4Sunday 3 November
Chetian • Cycle 60km
Today’s ride is an impressively varied and reasonably challenging one that takes us up into the mountains. The first 9km takes us on a small back country road out of the park. The next 12km we ride a dirt road through tiny villages and quiet forest and farmland where you’ll see local people tending rice fields or livestock. After this we follow a valley up on a paved road through larger villages gradually climbing to the top of a pass where the rewards are the spectacular views across the surrounding mountain ranges and, of course, the long winding descent. We’ll stop for lunch on the way up in a school, visiting the children in the tiny village of Baotian. For those that wish to transfer up to the top of the hills our vehicles will be available. From the top we can see the provinces highest mountain peak: Mao Er Mountain. The descent on the other side takes us through forests, narrow gullies and ravines. We pass by numerous villages and wooden houses built on the mountainsides and nestled amongst rice terraces, fruit orchards and wild forest. We have a short ride out of town where we stay in a secluded valley in a quiet comfortable guesthouse with spectacular rock formations and waterfalls ideal for hiking and swimming.
Day 5Monday 4 November
Longsheng Hot Springs • Cycle 40km
Today’s ride is a spectacular one as we have two passes, and descents, and plenty of time to stop and visit the many ancient villages along the way. This area is inhabited by Dong, Miao and Yao people and the villages see no tourism at all. One of the great experiences of the region is to simply stop and visit. Locals are sure to welcome you with a smile and are proud to see you look around their homes. It’s not uncommon to be invited in for a nice cup of tea! After the second climb it’s a long gentle downhill to the Longsheng Hot Springs. Well known in the local area this is the perfect location to stop and soak your muscles after the days ride. We stay in a small family run guesthouse in a narrow gorge with an outdoor natural hot spring. There is a great hike along the gorge to a local Miao village.
Day 6Tuesday 5 November
Pingan • Cycle 62km
Most of the terrain for today will be flat or undulating but with a steep and challenging 6km climb up to the Longji Rice Terraces to finish. Along the way we’ll pass through the county capital, Longsheng, where we’ll check out the local market. This is where much of the produce in the region ends up before being traded to far off locations around China or to kitchens locally. One of our favourite markets in China, there is an extraordinary array of goods for sale, exotic and sometimes very strange, but always colourful and fascinating. We will arrive in Pingan, the village situated in the middle of the rice terraces, with enough time so that you have time to sit back with a beer and enjoy the sunset views from the terrace of the Zhuang minority, traditionally-built guesthouse.
Day 7Wednesday 6 November
Shiertan water rafting • Cycle 60km
We start with a short and steep hike to view point 1 in the early morning. After breakfast, we set up to start ride with a fantastic downhill through dozens of switchbacks down the mountainside. We spend the day on quiet sealed roads undulating through pine and bamboo forests, often passing villages tucked away in the hills. Being close to Guilin, delicious Guilin-style rice noodles are available for lunch at the roadside. After lunch we have the option to continue on the bikes through quaint rural villages and countryside or, for those that want to shorten the ride, a rubber raft ride option is available that will take you along a small stream on a (sometimes!) thrilling ride to the hotel door!
Day 8Thursday 7 November
Xing Ping • Cycle 30km
We leave the hills behind for a morning of completely flat speedy cycling through back lanes, farmland and larger villages. Here agriculture is more intensive and you’ll see many people working the fields – you may even get the chance to help out. Just after the town of Wuteng we stop at a tea plantation for lunch – here you’ll get a chance to taste and learn about tea processing and growing as well as take part in a traditional tea ceremony. After breakfast we will pack up our bikes and take a 1 hour trip to Yangdi where the Chinese often refer to as “the finest scenery under heaven” – Karst Mountains overhanging the river. From here we’ll jump on Bamboo rafts and punt down the most spectacular section of the Li River to Xingping, an old port village, and our guesthouse with balcony views overlooking the river.
Day 9Friday 8 November
Yangshuo • Cycle 60-70km
Today’s cycling is a real highlight. We’ll cycle slightly back upstream to catch a local ferry across the Li River, after which we’ll climb out of the Li River valley. The rest of the morning we’ll ride along the ridge that lies high above the karst mountains and overlooks the Li River far below – some of the best views of the trip. We cycle through small villages, pomelo and kumquat groves, tea plantations and even the odd rice terrace. The final section of the days ride is through the stunning Dragon River Valley where we take dirt trails through rice fields and quiet villages, and perhaps stop for a quick swim, before settling in a local farmer’s village in one of the best hotels of the tour. Here we’ll be able to visit a local farmer’s house and check out the local farming techniques and lifestyle.
Day 10Saturday 9 November
Yangshuo • No cycling
Day of leisure with optional activities available. We’ll meet in the evening for a banquet dinner and celebration of the end of our cycling adventure.
Day 11Sunday 10 November
Day of departure
 

What’s included

Airport transfers if taking the recommended flight.
Hardtail mountain bikes with 27.5 wheels, Shimano 30 speed gears and hydraulic disc brakes.
Accommodation. 9 nights twin-sharing in hotels and guesthouses (some of which are quite basic).
All meals (except for lunch on non-cycling days) vegetarian.
Fully supported ride with with organised refreshment stops, ride leader, support vehicles, mechanic and doctor.
Private bus from Guilin to Bajiaozhai NP.
Porters in Hot spring and Longji rice terraces.
Bamboo boat tour on Li River.
Entry tickets to the Longji Rice Terraces and Bajiaozhai National Park.
All water whilst cycling (filtered) and snacks during cycling days.
Chinese (bilingual) cycling/ hiking guide for cycling/ hiking days.
FREE Norwood cycle jersey.

What’s not included

Flights to and from Guilin (we will advise what flights you should take).
Charges for travelling with your bike (if applicable).
Airport transfers outside of the times of meeting the recommended group flight.
Single room (subject to availability and on request).
Personal cycling equipment and kit.
Personal expenditure (souvenirs, bar bills, hotel facilities.
Entrance fees to museums and other attractions en route not specified as included.
Optional cookery class.
Travel insurance.

Owing to the bespoke and complex nature of this event and its itinerary, travel arrangements are complicated. There is a long 3hr transfer to our first night accommodation and in order to reach this ahead of Shabbat on Friday 1 November, we advise our observant participants to fly out on Wednesday 30 October and check in to a hotel local to Guilin the evening of Thursday 31 October. We will then organise a separate early morning transfer to the Bajiaozhai National Park on Friday 1 November to have you checked in well ahead of candle lighting hours at 5:40pm.

 

How challenging is it?

This is a challenging and varied route on good specification hardtail (front suspension) mountain bikes. The terrain will vary from quiet sealed roads to dirt roads through forests and farmland. While the terrain isn’t technical, there are some challenging climbs but equally some tremendous descents! You should be physically fit and used to doing long rides of 6+ hours with a good level of endurance and the ability to sustain this over a period of days.

Note: This itinerary is complex and may be subject to change.

 

Any questions?

Talk to Julie on 020 8420 6811 or email julie.braithwaite@norwood.org.uk

Or download the full itinerary

 

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