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Post tour extension: 5-Day Legendary Lhasa

Join the company owner on this one of a kind exploratory tour that visits Sichuan’s tribal villages unheard of in guidebooks! Meet the colorful Yi, Miao, Hui (Muslim) and Han minorities at the colorful Yi torch festival in two locations. Marvel at their elaborate costumes and headdresses worn during the summer festival. Continue to the Tibetan high country to participate in a grand horse festival that was off limit to westerners for many years until now! Join in the revelry, rub shoulders with yellow-hat sect monks in crimson robes walking along crowded streets. Photograph the ruggedly handsome, rosy cheeked Khampa cowboys in heavy yak-skin jackets, and smiling Tibetan women adorned in chunky hair ornaments. Walk amidst troupes dressed in regional finery, who have traveled long distances to participate in this week-long carnival-like affair. This trip is every photographer’s dream come true! End this fascinating sojourn in Chengdu with is spicy Sichuan hotpot and of course the adorable pandas!

Sichuan undoubtedly has the largest Yi population in China with diverse subgroups that live in this vast mountainous region. Travel along often rough roads past remote farming villages to the edge of a grassland valley with stunning remote scenery. Explore important Buddhist monasteries, and local Tibetan and Qiang dwellings in historic villages. See a shaman dance and be welcomed with rice wine in a Long Horn Miao village. Amble through markets, perhaps shop for hand woven saddle blankets, black pottery and Tibetan handicrafts. Walk to picturesque villages past old towns on isolated high mountain plateaus.

Arrive in happening Chengdu and learn about its’ rich diversity and ancient tea culture, while stopping at trendy clubs, craft bars and restaurants with outstanding food. Spend time at the Panda Research & Breeding Center that now has 120 giant and 76 red pandas that are no longer endangered. Explore the forested bamboo park with black swans and koi carp to see the animals eating, napping, and playing. Walk down old alleyways to sample street food in Chengdu, the first-ever UNESCO City of Gastronomy!

TRIBAL & LOCAL FESTIVALS:  We pioneered ethnic minority festival and study trips in Yunnan and Guizhou for UCLA Extension back in the 80s.  Festivals have always featured as our signature offering since the 80s and are perfect for avid photographers and adventurers alike. 

Yi Torch Festival:  This 3-day New Year celebration occurs throughout the region; when the Big Dipper is shaped like a torch in the sky.  At nightfall the main square is the center of the festivities that resonates with music, singing and dancing often with an enormous bonfire.  Torches are lit in prayer for peace, for good harvests, and to drive away evil spirits.  Traditionally the "Dance of the left foot" is then performed around a bonfire.  Participate in the fun activities which continue through the day and night!  See young men dressed in capes, colored belts and bamboo hats.  Observe small groups of people preparing to participate in fights and races, beauty contests and song and dance events.  Photograph the visually stunning tableau that includes dozens of participants all holding yellow umbrellas.

Tibetan Horse Festival:  This prestigious equestrian event has taken place for centuries.  The Khampas, Tibetans from Kham gather from across Tibet and Sichuan to show off their sportsmanship skills as well as socialize, trade supplies and enjoy the festivities. The high-altitude grassland is dotted with tents set up by shepherds and nomads waiting anxiously for this big event, both the horses and the people are dressed to impress!  Meet the hardy Tibetans living in some of the world’s highest settlements enjoy this weeklong annual affair.   Mingle with the crowds at this captivating carnival, stroll through the makeshift bazaar, see horse races, stunt demonstrations and dance competitions.  All the while wondering how we have arrived at this remote venue to witness this grand spectacle.

CUSTOMIZING A GROUP TOUR:  We can customize group tours to accommodate your dates, interests and budget.  We are happy to design the trip around festivals and special ceremonies if they are available, upgrade to deluxe and / or upscale boutique hotels to personalize your trip experience.


Anshun * Remote villages & historic towns in Sichuan * Tibetan Highland * Chengdu

Trip Details

26 Days (Remote Sichuan  & Tibetan Horse Festival)

17 Days (Remote Sichuan only)

Tour Dates

July 12 – August 6, 2021

(Yi Torch & Tibetan Horse Festivals)

July 12 - 28, 2021 (Yi Torch Festival)

Tour Prices

2021 Land: $7190 per person (6+ members)

2021 Single Supplement: $1960

2021 Land & Internal Air: $6380 per person (6+ members, Remote Sichuan only)

2021 Single Supplement: $1520 (Remote Sichuan only)

Trip Grading

Moderate / strenuous. Special local festival Elevation over 10,500 ft. For the adventurous!

(Remote Sichuan & Tibetan Horse Festival)


Photo credit

Top: Tibetan women at the horse festival


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