Pandas are one of the two most important animals in Chinese culture (the other one being dragons). In China, Pandas are considered their ‘national treasure.’ Since 2016, pandas are no longer endangered, but they are still categorized as Vulnerable by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature). To protect Pandas in China, They has several laws preventing the hunting and smuggling of giant pandas. Pandas mainly became endangered because of habitat reduction, and your students will learn a lot more about this on your school trip to China. WildChina currently has two panda trips, an 8-day trip called “Sichuan Pandas & Bees Conservation” and a 7-day trip called “An Expedition Across Western Sichuan.”
Sichuan Pandas & Bees Conservation (8-day trip)
This itinerary is recommended for schools who may have already done the classic school trips to China and want a more in-depth experience. This program covers China’s wildlife, culture, and history through workshops and activities. We actually have a private workshop that exceeds the usual visit to a breeding research center. Our program offers field studies of pandas that lets you see them in their natural wild habitat. In addition, this school trip to China includes working with honeybees!
You and your students will arrive in Chengdu (成都) on day 1, meet your WildChina program leader and have lunch at Baguobuyi (巴国布衣) on the way to your hotel. After checking in and freshening up, your program leader will take you to the Wangjian Tower Park (望江楼公园) to try Sichuan traditional tea and Sichuan mahjong. Each student will get to make their own Sugar Painting (糖画), which is literally what it sounds like. Folk artists do this by boiling sugar down into a liquid and working quickly to produce a “painting.” You’ll commonly see them paint Chinese dragons, birds, dogs, flower baskets, etc.
The afternoon will simply feature some leisurely strolls in some alleys, the most famous one being the Kuanzhai Xiangzi (宽窄巷子, Kuān Zhâi Xiàng Zi), aka Kuanzhai Alley which means “broad and narrow alleys.” Your program leader will tell you all about the historical significance of the alleys that are filled with stalls and unique restaurants.
On day 2, you and your students will transfer to Wolong, Sichuan (卧龙, 四川). You’ll stop by the Yingxiu Earthquake Memorial (映秀地震遗址) on your way there. The site was built for a middle school that was damaged in an earthquake in 2008. It’s going to be pretty laidback once you arrive at Wolong. You’ll get to see the beautiful Sichuan and Tibet landscapes with the Min River running for 735km along the roadside. You’ll enjoy a nice Tibetan hot pot for lunch, check-in at your Wolong hotel, and have a bonfire party.
The next day, you’ll transfer to the Wolong Giant Panda Base. In groups of 4 or 5, students will visit panda houses feed the pandas, and help clean up. Students will also get to make cakes and watch a movie while having lunch at the Panda Base. At the end of the day, students will receive a Panda Volunteer Experience certificate! They’ll also visit the Panda Museum at the Base, have dinner at a local restaurant, and go to a lecture from a Panda expert.
Day 4 is when you and your students transfer to the Primary forest to do Field Research through a simulation of the natural habitat of wild pandas. The simulation features a gorgeous landscape with rich vegetation. During your Field Research experience, panda experts will teach your students about monitoring wild pandas with infrared cameras. Students will also do a survey of a non-bamboo area as well as a bamboo area. Things they’ll be looking for include elevation, slope, forest type, bamboo diameter, density, etc. After lunch, students will do a workshop where they discuss their findings with a panda expert. Students will receive Field Research Expedition certificates at the end of the workshop.
Now, onto the bee conservation part of your trip! Your students will do a bee box project where you build bee boxes and donate them to the locals. You’ll have both lunch and dinner at a local restaurant, but in the afternoon, you’ll work with local farmers by harvesting potatoes and making bamboo baskets. On day 6, lots of time will be planned for you to go to Anren Old Town (安仁古镇, ān Rén Gû Zhèn), experience natural tie-dying, and explore the old town. We’ll go back to Chengdu, freshen up, and have Sichuan hot pot for dinner.
On the last full day of your school trip to China, our program leader will take you to a local market where students can get a taste of what local life is like. Students will take a cooking class and have lunch at the Sichuan Cooking Museum. You and your students will also visit Jinsha Museum, which showcases cool relics from an ancient kingdom. You’ll also explore Jinli Ancient Street to try local snacks and shop for locally handmade items. That night, you’ll see Sichuan Opera and a face-changing performance.
An Expedition Across Western Sichuan (7-day trip)
WildChina has created this trip taking you through six locations in Western Sichuan that includes several hands-on activities related to history, culture, and outdoor education. On this itinerary, a Sichuan Face-changing Opera performance is scheduled for your night of arrival. It will be quite leisurely since we understand how tiring an international flight can be. That’s why this trip officially begins on day 2 when we take you on the first part of the Western Sichuan journey. Our guides will bring you to the Wolong nature reserve, which has scenic, mountainous landscapes. There are valleys where you can see rivers and bamboo forests all around. It is especially stunning when the trees gradually turn to shades of auburn as Fall arrives. We’ll go to the Wolong Panda Base to learn about wildlife conservation. That night, you’ll also do a local farming service activity in a village home and camp in the mountains.
You may rise early on day 3 to the sound of the Chinese Er’hu (二胡) off in the distance. On our way to Danba (丹巴), we’ll stop at Mount Siguniang (四姑娘山) for a hike to the highest peak, which is 6,250 meters (20,505 ft) tall. Mount Siguniang literally translates to Four Girls Mountain. It was named Four Girls Mountain because there are four notable mountain peaks. After lunch, we’ll continue on our way to Danba, check in to a guesthouse, and rest before a local Tibetan welcome banquet.
On the morning of day 4, you and your students will explore the ancient Tibetan villages around Danba. You’ll see the ancient watchtowers in Suopo (梭坡) Village and visit local artisans in Jiaju Village. After lunch, students will participate in Tibetan art activities and teambuilding activities. Our program leader will take you to Tagong Temple (塔公寺), which is in a valley that is considered the gateway to Tibet. To immerse yourself in local culture, you’ll do a Tibetan Philosophy brainstorming activity. In the afternoon, we’ll transfer to the Tagong Grasslands and do a meditation and artist expression session right there in the spiritual grasslands. That night, you and your students will stay at a local guesthouse.
On your last day, we’ll take you to Kangding (康定), the capital city of the Tibetan Autonomous District of Garze. You and your students can take a walk around town after lunch and visit the Anjue Temple (安觉寺). At night, you can watch the locals do a communal evening dance in the town square.
As you can see, both these trips are rich with culture and can give your students a more authentic atmosphere of local living. If animal protection and wildlife conservation is something your students have already been learning, these school trips to China would be an even better way to link their knowledge to the real world! Aside from learning, the time set aside for exploration will make your school trip to China even more memorable. Are you interested in taking a school trip to see giant pandas? Feel free to submit an inquiry or reach out to our Academic Managers! We are happy to answer any questions you may have.
Sources: Where You Can See Pandas in China