Terra Incognita \"ter-a-in-kag-net-a"\ [L] (1616): unknown territory: an unexplored country.


In search of the Giant Panda

Wild Giant Panda, Foping, China
Giant Panda, Foping Nature Reserve, China

12-day escorted expedition

The Giant Panda is a true icon for endangered wildlife. Yet today the future of the Giant Panda is particularly fragile. This peaceful, bamboo-eating member of the bear family faces a number of threats. Its forest habitat, in the mountainous areas of southwest China, is fragmented and Giant Panda populations are small and isolated from each other. Meanwhile, poaching remains an ever-present threat. The Chinese Government has created over 50 panda reserves protecting more than 10,400km² and yet despite these efforts there are estimated to be less than 1,600 Giant Pandas left on earth.

Please join us for an expedition into the heart of the natural habitat of this enigmatic species.

We hope to encounter wild Giant Pandas on this trip.
We will not visit any of the captive "sanctuaries" - this is a trip designed to see Giant Pandas in the wild.
Sightings of wild Pandas cannot be guaranteed.

Takin, Foping Nature Reserve, China
Takin, Foping Nature Reserve, China

2014 Departure Dates:
Dates under development: OPEN to enrollment

Cost is $5,999 per person

Group size is limited to EIGHT participants to maximize our viewing opportunities.

Watch the video of our trip to China created by Kevin Freeny - one of the tour participants

Panda Tour Detailed Itinerary

MapThis is an Ecotour that will make a difference to you, and to the areas we visit.
We will make a contribution to the Foping Nature Reserve.
We will employ local people.
We will use locally owned and operated lodges and outfitters.
We will use local goods and services.

Day 1: Arrive Xi An, China
Everyone should plan to arrive at any convenient time on the Monday. You will be met at the Xi An airport and transferred to our hotel where you can freshen-up and relax. We will enjoy a Welcome Dinner at our Hotel this evening.
Overnight at Grand New World Hotel (L,D)

Day 2: Xi An city tour
Today we have full day to explore the City and surrounds with a guided tour to the Shaanxi History Museum and the Wild Goose Pagoda in the morning. In the afternoon we will visit the famed Terra-Cotta Warriors and Horses Museum, with visits to Pit 1, Pit 2 and Pit 3, and the Chariot Museum. We will drive back to Xi An in the later afternoon and enjoy a dumpling banquet at a restaurant looking out on the old city walls.
Overnight at Grand New World Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 3: Xi An to Foping Reserve Station
After breakfast we will drive to Foping National Nature Reserve, this reserve located on the south side of the Qinling Mountains has the highest density of wild Giant Pandas ever recorded. We plan to spend almost a week here, tracking wild Pandas each day, with the hope of encountering Giant Pandas in-the-wild. We have specifically chosen times of the year when the Pandas come down to lower elevations, and this should make the Pandas easier to track.

Giant Panda eating bamboo
Giant Panda feeds on bamboo, Foping Nature Reserve, China

Once we reach the end of the road we must walk into the Station and porters will carry our luggage. The path into the station is an easy walk, but is 8km (5 miles) so everyone should be in good physical condition as some days the tracking may be quite difficult. Indeed, if you wish to join this trip you should be able to walk up and down sometimes slippery terrain, the trails can be quite steep and scrambling up or down steep slopes may be necessary.
Overnight at Foping Reserve Station (B,L,D)

Day 4-8: Foping Nature Reserve / Panda tracking
Each day we plan to go out in the Reserve with our team of trackers and guides in search of wild Giant Pandas and of course some of the other wildlife found in the area, such as Golden Takin, Asiatic Black Bear, the elusive Golden snub-nosed monkeys and a wealth of birdlife, including Crested Ibis, pheasants and tragopans. Indeed the Foping National Nature Reserve has recorded some 68 mammal species, 217 species of birds, 38 species of reptiles, 15 species of fishes and over 1,250 species of insects.
You should be able and willing to carry a small day-pack with you, that contains your camera, binoculars, rain gear, bottled water, and your boxed lunch, to allow us maximum time out in the reserve.
Overnight's at Foping Reserve Station (B,L,D)

Wild Panda Tour
Panda habitat, Foping Nature Reserve, China

Day 9: Foping Nature Reserve to Xi An
After breakfast today we say farewell to the station that has been our home for almost a week and walk back out of the reserve to our waiting vehicle. Then we will drive the several hours back to Xi An and civilization! Tonight we enjoy dinner back at the Grand New World Hotel where we first began our adventure.
Overnight at Grand New World Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 10: Xi An
Today we spend a relaxed day exploring the Muslim Quarter of the old town which is conveniently located just a short stroll behind our hotel. We will wander the market stalls, food vendors and other stores as we travel back through time, and can envision this area during the grand trade days of the great Silk Route, which began here. This is our best chance to pick-up gifts and souvenirs before we begin our journey homewards tomorrow.
Overnight at Grand New World Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 11: Xi An to Beijing and the Great Wall
This morning we suggest you book an early flight from Xi An to Beijing so we may spend the afternoon visiting the Great Wall of China. We will walk along some restored sections of the Great Wall and then transfer to our comfortable hotel in the bustling city of Beijing for our farewell dinner.
Overnight at Soluxe Courtyard Hotel (B,L,D)

Day 12: Beijing headed home
This morning head for the International airport and flights home.

Cost per person is $5,999
Single supplement is $1,000
(B = Breakfast; L = Lunch; D = Dinner)

Cost Includes:

Not included:

International Air Travel - International air is not included in the price of your trip, but we would be happy to have you work with AirTreks, our preferred provider of international air arrangements. We recommend our customers work directly with AirTreks as they coordinate your international flights directly with Ecotours and enable you to arrive at your destination at the times specified for your tour. Please contact AirTreks at ecotours@airtreks.com for more information on international air travel, a no obligation cost estimate of your international flights and complete international air itinerary planning.

Make sure to mention Terra Incognita Ecotours when you contact AirTreks to receive preferred pricing, and recommended travel itineraries specifically developed for your tour.

Watch more about us in China...
Watch the video of our trip to China created by Kevin Freeny - one of the tour participants

Read more about us in China...
Budget Travel magazine

Foping Nature Reserve, China
Woodland stream, Foping Nature Reserve, China

Travel Information

Thanks for choosing China with Terra Incognita Ecotours, Inc. It is our pleasure to help you plan for your upcoming ecotour. To ensure that your travel arrangements are made to your satisfaction, please take a few minutes to read through this information.

What you need to have with you on your trip:

Passport: If you are a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you will need a passport, valid for six months from the date of completion of your trip.

It is always a good idea to make a photocopy of your airline tickets and of the pages of your passport that have the number, your photograph and other pertinent information. Keep the copies separate from the originals.

Visas: Please consult the China consulate or embassy nearest you for visa requirements to enter China. If a visa is required, you are responsible for obtaining it.

Documents for children under the age of 18, not traveling with both parents: The U.S. government is increasingly requiring that minors under 18 years of age traveling alone, with grandparents, or with one parent/legal guardian only, carry a notarized document signed by both parents or by the parent/legal guardian not traveling with the child. We suggest you obtain such a document (noting the age of the child, relationship to traveling adult(s), dates of travel, and destination) to avoid potential problems. For example, in the case of divorce, the parent with legal custody must sign the permit, and the accompanying adult must carry proof of this fact. In addition, if the child's surname differs from that of either parent, you may want to carry the child's birth certificate.

Emergency Contact number while on your ecotour:
Call COLLECT (813) 289-1049

Practical Information

Currency: The currency of China is the Yen and 1 USD = 6.83 YEN (effective March 2010). Major credit cards are generally accepted at hotels, restaurants and larger stores. US dollars are NOT widely accepted, so we suggest you carry Chinese currency in small denominations for smaller purchases such as taxis, refreshments or other miscellaneous expenses.

Health: All information we obtain regarding health precautions is received from the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta at 404.332.4559 or www.cdc.gov.

Please note that Terra Incognita Ecotours, Inc., as a travel company, is in no way authorized to prescribe any inoculations or medications. We recommend that you consult your personal physician for medical advice, showing him or her the brochure that indicates the places you will be visiting. Your physician is most familiar with your personal medical history and is best qualified to determine your particular needs. It is always advisable to have physical and dental check-ups before you leave.

At the present time, no immunizations are required for this ecotour, although the CDC recommends that the normal "childhood" vaccines should be up to date: Measles, Mumps, Rubella (MMR Vaccine), Diphtheria, Tetanus, Perturssia (DTP Vaccine) and Polio vaccine.

Swimming: There may be an opportunity to swim at the Hotel in XiAn.

Time Difference: China is twelve hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

Weather: China is an enormous country and consequently every type of weather is possible. We will be visiting in May and the area we are visiting is in the mountainous interior so temperatures will be cool at night, warm during the day. We advise pack clothing that can be worn in layers, and be prepared for cool and/or possible wet conditions.

Are you fit for your trip?

Even though your adventure is quickly approaching, it’s not too late get fit for your trip. Fit for Trips, in collaboration with Terra Incognita Ecotours, has developed fitness programs specific to your itinerary to ensure that you have the adventure of a lifetime. Whether you are just getting started with a fitness routine or regularly train for athletic challenges, Fit for Trips offers trip-specific conditioning routines for adventurers of all levels. All Terra Incognita Ecotours guests will receive receive an 8% discount and a money-back guarantee.

Get started today and be fit for your trip!

Giant Panda Trip voted #12 in Outside Magazine's Lifelist 2010. Top 50 Things for your Bucket List!