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A Journey to Jiuzhaigou!

May 14-29, 2011

New England Wild Flower Society

Dear Members and Friends:

We invite you to join the New England Wild Flower Society and Wellesley College Friends of Horticulture for a memorable adventure in Sichuan Province, China, in May 2011. This unique expedition to explore the flora, fauna, and culture of Sichuan will be led by Ted Elliman, leader of NEWFS botanical forays to China for many years.

The rhododendron will be in flower during our visit! This is good news because China, a global center of diversity for many plant groups, supports more than 400 endemic species of rhododendron. Most of these grow in the Hengduan Mountain region where we’ll spend most of our time. We may not see them all, but if this is your first trip to southwest China, you will probably see more than you ever have before.

Wild mountain nature reserves are the focus of our journey. Natural areas on the itinerary include: Emei Shan, a revered and sacred 10,000-foot mountain with spectacular flora; Tangjiahe Nature Reserve, with dense broadleaved
forests and a rich bird fauna; and Wanglang Nature Reserve, where subalpine conifer forests of spruce, larch and juniper grow up through understories of tall rhododendron and a sparkling array of forest wildflowers. Here in Wanglang, at 11,000 feet elevation, the high elevation wildflowers will be blooming at and above timberline. Tangjiahe and Wanglang are also home to wild populations of giant panda.

Sichuan Map

A major highlight of our Sichuan program will be a two-day visit to Jiuzhaigou National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of incomparable beauty that is another great place to view and photograph spring wildflowers. Jiuzhaigou is a valley complex of crystalline lakes and streams, connected by a superbly designed network of boardwalk trails. Accessible parts of Jiuzhaigou range in elevation from 7,000 to 11,000 feet, and it is an ideal place to explore on foot. Frequent shuttle buses provide ready access to the boardwalk trails.

Sichuan also has an exceptionally rich cultural heritage. A lush, subtropical basin encircled by steep mountains, Sichuan has been famously hard to reach. As the Tang Dynasty poet Li Bai wrote: “Travelling the road to Sichuan is harder than climbing to the sky!” Taoism was born here, and, 1,200 years ago, Sichuan was a major center of Buddhist learning, a tradition that endures even today in beautiful rock sculpture and ancient forest temples. At Leshan, a seated Buddha image 200 feet tall, carved from red sandstone, overlooks an auspicious river confluence. The landscapes and people of Sichuan inspired both Li Bai and Dufu, two of China’s most revered classical poets.

Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province has an exceptionally long record of human habitation. Recent excavations have uncovered artifacts of bronze, pottery and jade from a time, more than 3,500 years ago, when local people cultivated rice and co-existed with elephants. At the Sanxingdui museum we will see metallic trees, golden birds, and bug-eyed bronze masks which fascinate archaeologists and visitors alike.

Today, as Sichuan booms, even cosmopolitan Chengdu keeps its links to the past through tranquil tea gardens, traditional opera performances, and a delicious cuisine based on fish, an amazing array of vegetables, and herbs like the famed Sichuan pepper (Zanthoxylum) that grow in the surrounding mountains.

We hope you will be able to join us as we explore the Secrets of Sichuan.

Bonnie Drexler,
Education Director
New England Wild Flower Society

$3,945 plus air.

Brochure (Requires an Adobe pdf reader to view)




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