8 Days Yunnan Winter Birding Tour to Dongchuan Red Land, Nianhu Lake and Dashanbao Nature Reserve

Bordering Burma, Vietnam, and Laos, the state of Yunnan lies at the crossroads of Asian bird diversity. It is the most bird-rich province in China, with a distinctly subtropical feel in the south. The largely mountainous terrain supports an incredible variety of forest types, and wetland refuges and powerful rivers increase the variety of habitats to explore. As our Yunnan birding tour is arranged in winter, many migrant species from further north boost the species number, including the enigmatic Black-necked Crane, and sea gulls. Besides birding tour, we can call it a photography tour. Dongchuan Red Land-“the color palette of God” will be one of the famous destination of this tour.


  • Have a view of diverse birds of Yunnan.
  • Enjoy the charming landscape and idyllic sunset and sunrise.
  • Take photos of the Red Land, and make your masterpiece of photography. 

Brief Itinerary:

  • Day 1 Arrive in Kunming
  • Day 2 Kunming-Dongchuan
  • Day 3 Dongchuan-Huize
  • Day 4 Huize-Nianhu Lake
  • Day 5 Nianhu Lake-Zhaotong-Dashanbao
  • Day 6 Dashanbao
  • Day 7 Dashanbao-Kunming
  • Day 8 Departure from Kunming

Google Map

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities: Kunming City, The Green Lake by your own
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: Lunch

Yunnan Military Academy and School, Kunming

Arrive in the beautiful spring city – Kunming and check in hotel. Then enjoy your free time. Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, is China’s famous historical and cultural city, also China’s excellent tourism city, and a collection of natural landscape and human landscape.

For your free time, we recommend that you can go to shoot black-headed gulls on Dianchi Dam, where full of dancing black-headed gulls; wander at Yunnan Military Academy near Green Lake or Nanping Street-Mabi chicken Square; eat authentic Yunnan Crossing-the-bridge rice noodles, such as “Qiaoxiangyuan”. Also some fruit snacks are necessary for free activities throughout the whole day.

TipsThe best time for shooting black-headed gulls is 8:00-9:00 am and 4:00-5:00pm. There are many black-headed gulls in Green Lake and Dianchi Dam and multiple shots with medium/large apertures are preferred. In addition, keep your phone on for convenient contact with you.

Day 2 Kunming-Dongchuan

Sightseeing and Activities: Sunset Photograph: Dongchuan Red Land— Qicaipo—Jinxiuyuan—Luoxiagou—Waliangfangzi
Accommodation: Dongchuan
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Tour Route: Kunming-Dongchuan Red Land-Qicaipo-Jinxiuyuan-Luoxiagou-Waliangfangzi-Red Land

Set off in the morning and head to Dongchuan Red Land. Probably arrive at moon to check in the hotel and have lunch. After a short rest, head to Luoxiagou, Qicaipo and Jinxiuyuan to photograph, and go to Waliangfangzi to shoot sunset.

Day 3 Dongchuan-Huize

Sightseeing and Activities:Red Land-Damakan sunrise-Lepuao-Huize
Accommodation: Huize
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Lepuao Village of Dongchuan Red Land, Kunming

Set off at 6:00 am and head to Damakan, which takes 25 minutes to arrive at the photography spot. When the first ray of sunlight hits the village, the distinct light and shadow makes it the best time to shoot and you can finish at about 8 o ‘clock.

Then head to Lepuao, after finished shooting, drive to Huize. The sunset and the sunset glow, stands on the shore watching the round red sun blooming the red clouds, golden red light casts shadows on the lake. So mysterious. The dusk with the intoxicating sunset, the blue sky with the still beautiful lake, the yearning with the distant silhouette, as well as the movement of black-neck cranes as a symbol of auspicious, happy and faithful. After sunset on the left bank, the people, cattle and the silhouette of birds, are fuzzy and fade-out gradually, like ink painting, real magic, and the reed patches spread out into the water, dividing the lake.

Day 4 Huize-Nianhu Lake

Sightseeing and Activities:Nianhu Lake Birding, Daqiao Black-necked Crane Nature Reserve
Accommodation: Huize
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

My Yunnan Bird Tour to Dashanbao Nature Reserve in Zhaotong, Nianhu Lake in Huize and Caohai Lake in Guizhou

The whole day for Nianhu Lake photography. (Nianhu Lake sunrise-Black-necked Crane- Nianhu sunset)

Early in the morning to shoot Nianhu Lake sunrise and a flock of birds flying when the sun comes from the lake and paved with red and dyed golden, black-necked cranes fly up to the sky, just at this moment, someone rowing a small boat and the water rippling gently, the sight is more beautiful.

After breakfast, go to the commanding height to shoot Lijiawan panorama. Walk down the street through a long winding mountain road, and the blue dress of the lake is in front of you. Under the mountains, the winding water bank linked with the red earth, which is Yangmei mountain and there is a village called Li jiawan. Standing in the eye of Li jiawan village, water on the left and mountain on the right. A lake of water to the horizon, in the sunlight, flickering intoxicating eyes, sometimes under the shadow of the hills and trees, coy to reveal the attractive appearance. 

After lunch, take a rest and set off in the afternoon to shoot the sunset of the lake and the return of the black-necked cranes, in the loneliness of intoxicating beauty, you can get a kind of longing of wide and boundless.

Day 5 Nianhu Lake-Zhaotong-Dashanbao

Sightseeing and Activities:Nianhu Lake sunrise-Jigong Mountain-Dashanbao Mountain
Accommodation: Zhaotong
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Jigong Mountain of Dashanbao Nature Reserve, Zhaotong

In the morning, capture the sunrise of the lake and the flying black-necked cranes in the light. After breakfast, drive to Zhaotong Dashanbao Black-necked Cranes National Nature Reserve. Probably arrive at the township in the afternoon, and then head to Tiaodunhe, five kilometers from the township and running against Dahaizi, fairy field plateau meadow area on the way and you can turn into the pasture to experience the cattle and sheep flocks of “Mongolian amorous feelings”. Finally, take a trip to shoot the sunset of the mountain.

Day 6 Dashanbao

Sightseeing and Activities:Dashanbao Nature Reserve, Dahaizi sunrise, Black-necked Cranes
Accommodation: Zhaotong
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

The whole day for Dashanbao photography(Dahaizi sunrise, black-necked cranes, black-necked cranes homing)

Head to Dahaizi early in the morning to shoot black-necked cranes and the sunrise, in the faint light, you can see the figure of a large group of crane in a long row along the sea, and with the sound of “goo – goo -“. The sun leaps from the water and lights the sea full of golden, and you will head to Dahaizi birds monitoring room on the hillside 200 meters away from the black-necked crane under the arrangement of Dashanbao reserve administration, please be quite and can’t disturb the cranes. Have a rest after lunch and photograph in the afternoon. The elves gather together from all sides and prepare to return to their nest before darkness.

Day 7 Dashanbao-Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:Dahaizi sunrise
Accommodation: Kunming
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

In the morning, go to Dahaizi to shoot black-necked cranes and sunrise. Once completion, forward to Kunming, probably arrive in the evening. We will send you to Kunming railway station, where is the starting point of airport terminal line 2 and convenient to go anywhere. 

Tips: Probably arrive in Kunming at 16:00 and suggest to book the return trip after 21:30, but still recommend you to stay in kunming for one night.

Day 8 Departure from Kunming

Sightseeing and Activities:Hiageng Park, Haigeng Dam, Daguan Park and The Green Lake birding by your own.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Free by your own, you can choose the birding places around Dianchi Lake to visit the seagulls.
Places to visit seagulls in Kunming: Hiageng Park, Haigeng Dam, Daguan Park and the Green Lake.
Departure from Kunming according to your flights.

Recommended Hotels

Destination 5 Star 4 Star 3 Star Hostels

Sofitel Hotel

Kunming Jinjiang Hotel

Kunming Longteng Hotel

T&T Story Hotel
Dongchuan / Shanju Hotel Chunqiu Hotel

Jvying Guesthouse

Huize / Huize Decheng Ramada  Hotel Huize Hotel Huize Shiguang Bieyuan Inn
Zhaotong / Zhaotong Ziguang Hotel Zhaotong Hotel Home Inn

Service Included:

  • Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary;
  • Hotels as listed in the itinerary;
  • Private English-speaking tour guide;
  • Private vehicle for transfers & sightseeing with skilled driver;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between airports and hotels.

Service Excluded:

  • Any arrival and departure international airfares or train tickets;
  • Chinese visa fees;
  • Excess baggage charged by Airlines;
  • Single room supplement;
  • Tips to guides and drivers;
  • Personal expenses and gratuities to service staff;
  • Personal travel accident insurance;
  • All optional programs.

Travel Tips:

  • Visitors are advised to always carry changes of clothing due to the large variations in temperature between day and night.
  • The climate is relatively dry, so drink more water every day.
  • Protecting oneself from strong UV radiation at high altitude.
  • Protecting oneself from altitude sickness. Lessen the effects of altitude sickness, avoid strenuous exercise and have plenty of rest. 
  • Respect local customs , habits, and religious beliefs.