LUX* Resorts & Hotels has launched an immersive five-day guided tour package to discover the ancient trails of the 13th-century Old Tea Horse Road in China. Experience the romance and adventure of this intrepid journey that follows the tea carrying pack-caravans through spectacular landscapes, from high mountains to deep gorges, linking the varied ancient Naxi and Tibetan cultures of China’s South West. The five-night six-day guided tour is offered north-bound from Lijiang in the Yunnan Province and Southbound from the Tibetan village of Benzilan, covering legendary trails through the heart of the Three Parallel Rivers and glaciers of the Meili Mountains.Sample five-day tour: north-bound Lijiang to BenzilanThe adventure commences in Lijiang, a UNESCO Heritage Site, with a walking tour along the winding cobblestone lanes past the well preserved folk style buildings of Dayan. Stop at shopping spots along Qi’yi Street and visit the oldest tea house in Lijiang, to meet Diana He whose family for generations has traded tea. Watch the local Pu’er tea, renowned for its healing powers, be pressed into cakes by standing and rocking on stones, enjoy a tasting session and learn the secrets from these tea masters. Overnight at LUX* Tea Horse Road Lijiang boutique hotel.Day twoDiscover the picturesque Zhonghe (Central River), past Willow trees, exquisite stone footbridges and distinctive tiered wells. Join the hotel chef at nearby bustling Zhongyi markets and experience the vibrant heart of Naxi cuisine, while he gathers ingredients for the evening’s signature meal – a Naxi hotpot. A short car ride to the north, at the foot of looming Yulong (Jade Dragon) Mountain sets the scene for lunch, followed by an hour-long performance, entitled ‘Impression Lijiang,’ created by China’s most famous movie director Shang Yimou (‘Raise the Red Lantern and ‘House of Flying Daggers’). A spectacle to behold, the show features a hundred horses and a cast of 500, set in the open air theatre of the fertile Lijiang Plains. End the day with a visit at the village of Baisha visiting temples filled with murals and a school that teaches the art of weaving silk tapestries, a local Naxi tradition.Day threeJourney to Shangri-La and the Napahai wetlands in Benzilan for an exciting day of dramatic mountains, deep gorges and a complete cultural shift from Naxi tradition to ethnic Tibet. Marvel at the spectacular views over Haba Mountain, the mighty Tiger Leaping Gorge and the high plains to the north, famed for its fearless horsemen. In Dukezong, see the world’s largest Tibetan prayer wheel, followed by a delicious local organic lunch. Circle the wetlands of Napahai, a complex ecosystem that changes dramatically with the seasons, attracting thousands of migratory birds, including the rare black-necked crane. Here, Tibetan farmers pasture their herds of yak and flocks of horses roam the wetlands. Continue the ascent to LUX* Tea Horse Road Benzilan, the only mountain retreat in the area, nestled in the gorge by the rushing waters of UNESCO’s World Heritage-listed Three Parallel Rivers.Day fourFollowing a hearty breakfast, set off to the untouched Dongzhulin monastery of the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat), where the monks chant their morning prayers. Watch a theatrical and highly-charged Gelugpa-sect debating session unfold between pairs of monks, as they shout, jump and dance to make their point heard. Highlights of the day include the making of traditional Tibetan incense sticks, visiting a local bell-maker at Shuibianhe Valley and savouring a traditional picnic, or Provençale style French lunch, paired with local wines. Return to the hotel for dinner and unwind on the roof terrace with a ‘Cinema Paradiso’ experience, watching a movie al fresco under the stars.The rich tales of this magical journey are shared in a detailed LUX* guide, published and designed in partnership with acclaimed photographer and author Michael Freeman.
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