Visiting: China, Bajiaozhai National Park,
Specialty Categories: Bicycle Touring Food & Wine
Season: September - October
Day 1: Welcome to China! Transfer from the airport to the hotel. After a group meeting to go over the formalities of the trip and answer some questions, we'll head out for a Chinese banquet dinner together.
Day 2: After an early breakfast we will drive north (3 hours) to the start of our ride in a small mountainside town Ziyuan, where we will stay the night. We'll set up our bikes and after a light lunch we'll take a 12 km warm-up ride to the recently listed UNESCO heritage Bajiaozhai National Park, famous for its unique red sandstone rock formations. After hiking up to the viewing point (stairs of 1800 steps) overlooking these fascinating formations, we'll cycle back to Ziyuan for dinner.
Day 3: This is our first full day on the bikes and there are some impressive climbs to start the day with. For those who need a transfer up to the top of the hill, our support vehicle will be available. From the top we can see the provinces highest mountain peak: Mao Er Mountain. The descent on the other side takes us through forests, narrow gullies and ravines. We will stop in a Miao minority town for lunch before heading for the destination of our day: the Longsheng Hot Springs.
Well known in the local area it's the perfect place to soak your muscles after a long ride. The afternoons trail has some steep hills but is generally tending down. The scenery from Ziyuan to Longsheng is dominated by impressive saw-tooth mountain ranges covered with sub-tropical vegetation, bamboo-clad mountainsides, towering peaks, verdant valleys with picturesque farms, terraced fields of rice and charming villages along the road. Price includes three meals.
Day 4: We will be staying close to the hot springs, so for those who like to get up early, a morning dip in the springs would be a good way to start the day. Most of the terrain today will be undulating but with a steep and challenging 6 km climb up to the Longji Rice Terraces to finish. Your effort will be rewarded with extraordinary views from the top!
We will try to reach the terraces early enough to stop and enjoy the mountain views from the Zhuang minority traditionally-built guesthouse, on the mountainside in Pingan. In the afternoon there's a possibility to do a fully guided hike around the hillside, take a shorter walk to one of the view points over the rice terraces, or simply sit back with a glass of beer and enjoy the view and atmosphere on the terrace of this very special guesthouse.
The owners, Keyin and Lily make us feel at home and may offer us a sample of their special home-made sweet rice wine. Those exploring the walking trails will soon discover that this area is also inhabited by people of the Yao and Miao minorities. Their native clothing is quite distinctive and Yao women often grow their hair so long it can touch the ground when untied! They'll be more than happy to demonstrate the way they tie their hair!
Day 5: We will start the day with a fantastic downhill through dozens of switchbacks down the mountainside. We spend the day on quiet sealed roads undulating through pine and bamboo forests, often passing villages tucked away in the hills. You may even spot the odd wild monkey on the way. Heading towards Guilin, we will have the delicious Guilin-style rice noodles for lunch on the way.
In the afternoon we'll reach a wide valley, but our destination lies up a narrow gorge known as the Butterfly Valley, where our hotel is located in a picturesque setting. We will have some free time to enjoy the walking paths in the valley.
Day 6: After the breakfast at the hotel we will hit the road on our bikes for a day of opposites. A morning of completely flat cycling on the best surface of the tour makes way for an afternoon of dirt road and rough off-road as we take the most rural back roads towards Guilin. We may get some speed up on the well-made highway, but we wouldn't want to race through the later part of the day as this is the classic rural China on the backyard of the city. We will pass rice fields, fruit trees, and vegetable plots as well as reservoirs and farmyards full of chicken.
Finally the karst peaks of Guilin's skyline appear in front of us and we will cycle into the town to our hotel. Guilin - one of the prettiest cities of China, is an interesting place to spend an evening in. With plenty of restaurants and eating possibilities, shopping strips and cafes, it's a good way to see the local urbanites spend their evenings.
Day 7: From Guilin we will head south alongside the famous bamboo-lined river Li. We will stop at several old villages from Ming era along this flatter section and take some back tracks through this intensive rural area. At Caoping we'll stop for lunch and explore "the Chinese finest scenery under heaven" – Karst Mountains overhanging the river.
After lunch we climb up to the mountains for an even more breath taking view of the incredible landscape, finally arriving at the gorgeous Xingping just in time to eat, shower and watch the sun set. Xingping is an old Ming Dynasty era village and boasts some fine streets worth exploring to enjoy the architecture that is rapidly disappearing in China. We will spend the night in a quaint family run guesthouse with views overlooking the river.
Day 8: Today's cycling is full of highlights. This section of the valley is famous for its beautiful karst mountains and we take a bamboo boat ride up through the most picturesque section of the Li River to Yandi - a fantastic start of the day. From here it's a hilly ride on back roads and small paths through countless limestone karst peaks. We cycle through small villages, pomelo and kumquat groves, tea plantations and even the odd rice terrace.
The final part of the road will lead us through the flat stunning Dragon River Valley until we reach the legendary Yangshuo, known to travellers from all over the world. Here we will celebrate the end of our cycling adventure and spend the night. Depending on the time of our arrival, we will be able to explore the town and surroundings by foot. There are plenty of possibilities to spend time in Yangshuo. There are rock-climbing courses, Chinese cooking classes, kayaking and caving, as well as shopping or relaxing in one of the many cafes in town.
Day 9: Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport 3 hours prior to your departure.