One of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, Yunnan is also the most culturally diverse province in China, with 25 different ethnic minority groups, living in an equally fascinating array of different natural and man-made environments, including ancient cobbled towns, at the foot of snow capped mountains, around alpine lakes, on highland plains and fringing pristine forests. With its rich heritage and natural elements, Yunnan offers rich learning and exploration opportunities for people of ages. At The Bivou, we work hand-in-hand with a range of local partners ranging from NGOs, to researchers, local communities, schools and service providers to create meaningful and fun experiences for kids and schools.

Day 1 Explore Dayan Old Town 探索丽江古城

Upon your arrival in Lijiang, the little ones can spend a fun-filled afternoon exploring the 1000-year-old Unesco World Heritage Ancient town of Dayan, armed with The Bivou’s own Treasure Hunt map. An unbeatable parent-child bonding opportunity, it allows visitors young and old not only to find traditional and quaint buildings and bridges that still exist hidden away in the maze of the old town, but also unusual craft shops doing paper making, coppersmiths, weaving, local snacks and other fascinating places unknown to other travellers.  A chance to excite the taste buds, discover the unique history and culture of the dominant Naxi minority group and in turn, experience the magic of Lijiang.

Day 2 The Yulong Snow Mountain Experience 玉龙雪山(感受雪山景观的冲击)

Ride to Glacier Park at 4506 metres in a cable car and let your kids experience first hand the magnificence of the holiest of mountains for the Naxi people.  Up close and personal with Yulong Snow Mountain, this is a snowy paradise for the little ones as you see their eyes brightening up and taking it all in.  Next, watch the renowned Impression Lijiang show, a spectacle that has successfully gathered all the elements of nature: the deep blue Yunnan sky, the stunning snow-capped mountains, and more than 500 performers from many ethnic minority groups.  Hearing the little ones exclaiming “So beautiful! Amazing!” is sure to lift up your spirits as well.  Next, come to the amazing turquoise Blue Moon Valley, formed by the melting glaciers. The tranquil, ethereal waters, makes leaving unbearable for the children.  They are never bored in this beautiful and fascinating place, occasionally watching stones forming ripples on the water and wondering how this magical natural landscape was formed.

Day 3 Lashi Lake Horse Riding & Farmhouse 拉市海骑马

Experience the pristine beauty of Lashi Lake, the first wetland natural reserve in Yunnan and retrace the steps of ancient merchants along the Ancient Tea Horse Trail by riding local ponies.  A mere 40-minute drive from Lijiang, this is the perfect model of how man can live alongside nature in harmony.  The lake is fringed by grass-covered wetlands and marshes, as well as villagers harvesting their corn, painting for your children a visual image of the harmony between man and nature.  In the months of Dec to March, view thousands of migratory birds from Siberia, or go on horseback during spring and fall to experience being surrounded by colourful alpine wildflowers and unspoilt ancient forests.  If seeing local culture is your cup of tea, you can even visit a Naxi farmhouse for lunch, and listen to the horse trek guide retelling the long and colourful history of the Ancient Tea Horse Trail. Menu is based on the local, authentic Naxi cuisine made using produce grown and bred in and around the lake.

Day 4 The Nature Journaling Workshop 大自然笔记

Let the children discover for themselves the beauty of nature.  Sharpen their observation skills and increase their ability to sketch and draw and even to discuss what they see. Whether you are from the suburbs, or cities, or whichever your country, you will be able to find here excellent examples of natural beauty.  By recording actual observations, kids’ memories are sharpened and cultivated, alongside their ability to express their thoughts, imagination and creativity.  While children enjoy the natural beauty around them, parents can similarly enjoy the warm luxurious warmth of an afternoon in Lijiang.  Experience being a farmer by helping out at the Bivou Farm allotment, basking in the warm sunshine, or enjoy a cup of tea or BBQ by the farm.

Day 5 Discover Tiger Leaping Gorge Trek 探险家徒步虎跳峡

A 1.5hour journey by car from Shuhe will take you to the quiet but historically important town of Shigu where children can learn a little about the historic Long March of the Legendary Red Army by visiting the Red Army Memorial.  Here is also the place to see the intriguing “First Bend of the Yangtze River”, where the mighty Yangtze does a dramatic V shape turn; as well as for kids to enjoy the famous and tasty Shigu “chicken bean” lentil jelly snack.  Arrive around noontime at Middle Gorge, the most dramatic section of Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the most renowned and spectacular gorges in the world.  A guide will take your group on a trek along natural rock paths, through pristine bamboo forests, alongside refreshing waterfalls, and even through walkways carved into vertical cliff faces, to experience the majestic beauty of the “tiger jumping over the stormy sea”.  This is a great opportunity not only to enjoy the best of the much-talked about beauty of Yunnan, but also to develop some of the courage and willpower that many children today lack as a result of growing up in concrete jungles.

Day 6 Ecotour to Wenhai Alpine Lake and Snowflake Village 文海&雪花村

Nestled within the majestic mountains of Yulong is the beautiful alpine lake Wenhai at 3100 metres, made even prettier in fall by yak, sheep and horses grazing leisurely, and its blanket of wildflowers on its meadowy banks. A 15 minute journey up the hills willtake you to visit even more remote Yi villages located even higher up, to look at the traditional simple lifestyles of ethnic minorities living around the rugged area. The view of Yulong Snow Mountain is breathtaking, as you take in the magnificent snow-capped mountains up close and personal. From here, we will trek down to Yulong village, walking through part of the Alpine Botanic Gardens, a collaborative effort between Kunming Botanical Institute and the Royal Edinburgh Institute in the UK.  Lunch: Naxi Farmhouse Lunch.

Day 7  Indoor Activities:  Dongba Crafts (Make Your Own Tile CatDongba Pictograph Writing and Yunnan Movie Appreciation

A hands-on and out-of-the-sun time with your children doing fun art and craft activities, heralding Mom and Dad back to the days when they themselves held clay and paintbrushes in their hands and as playful children, turned raw materials into masterpieces. Let the children express their talent and imagination to make their very own tile cat!  Through understanding the story behind the tile cat, they can also better understand the customs and culture of Lijiang. Or try your hand at writing Dongba Hieroglyphics, known to be the last surviving pictographic language in the world. As night falls, children can join their parents to watch a Yunnan-related movie in the Bivou Cafe, that will allow them a better understanding of the beautiful environment they are now enjoying.  Enjoy the sense of family through discussing what is being shown, in turn bringing inspiration and education to the children, and training them in independent thinking.

Day 8   Bike Excursion to Yulong Foothils 骑游玉龙雪山

The fun-filled day begins with setting off from The Bivou, cycling up-slope to the seldom visited Yulong Village which is at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.  On the way, we will enjoy a wonderful view of the Lijiang countryside, passing Naxi villages and farmland, always facing the Snow Mountain the whole way.  Cycling is a great way to take in slowly the splendid natural environment, with the sun shining and the wind blowing into the little happy faces. We will stop to have a visit at the Sanduoge Temple in Yulong Village, which has more than 1200 years of history. This quiet Naxi temple honours the local deity Sanduo, who is believed to protect the Naxi minority from danger. Next, we will enjoy a traditional Naxi lunch in at a friendly family restaurant in Yulong Village, before doing another 5km of cycling back to 1200-year-old Baisha Old Town, where we will get to explore Baisha slowly. If you like, you can try out doing Naxi embroidery or learn to write Dongba Pictographs with a famous Dongba Shaman.