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The forests of Borneo contain thelargest and most spectacularrainforest trees found anywhere in the tropics; they are also the oldestrainforests on earth. The diversity of life inthese forests is as dazzling as the treesare gigantic. This is a tour of the Malaysianprovince of Sabah in northern Borneo, ahighly prosperous state with a goodinfrastructure and an excellent nationalparks system. We will be focusing on thelowland dipterocarp forests of the DanumValley, and the montane forests of MountKinabalu, the highest mountain betweenthe Himalaya and New Guinea.Following our arrival in Kota Kinabalu, thebustling and affluent capital of Sabah, wewill take a short flight to the frontier town ofLahad Datu in the east of the province.From here we will take a 4-wheel drivevehicle to the Danum Valley ConservationArea, one of only two substantial areas ofprotected primary forest remaining inSabah. Our luxury lodge is scenicallylocated in the heart of hundreds of squarekilometres of this primary forest, and willbe our base for the next six nights. Duringour stay we will explore the forest, makingfull use of the excellent network of trails.The forests of the Danum Valley provide anunrivalled opportunity for observing a widerange of lowland forest birds andmammals. During our extended stay wewill see some of Sabah's most spectacularbirds, including Great Argus Pheasant,several species of hornbill, including thelargest and most spectacular of all-theRhinoceros and Helmeted Hornbills. Wemay also see three species of pitta,including the endemic Black-and-crimson,Blue-headed, and the diminutiveBlue-banded, plus the endemic Borneanand Black-throated Wren-babblers. Afterdark we will search for the mysteriousnocturnal frogmouths, one of the leastknown bird families on earth. If we are veryfortunate, we may see the enigmatic LargeFrogmouth during our stay, and its smallerrelative, the Javan Frogmouth. Amongstthe wide range of forest mammals here,we will hope to see a good selection ofprimates, including Bornean Gibbon, RedLeaf Monkey and Orang-utan. If we areparticularly fortunate, we may also see theendemic Hose's Langur. Regular nocturnalforays by jeep should allow us to glimpsesome larger game, such as Elephant andBanteng and, perhaps, even CloudedLeopard or Flat-headed Cat! Larger forestmammals are never easy to see, but weare sure to see such smaller mammals asthe nomadic Bearded Pig, Yellow Muntjacand Red Giant Flying Squirrel.From the Danum Valley we will move on tothe Kinabatangan River, which drains anextensive area of northern Borneo. We willtravel along this major watercourse bymotorised canoe, hoping to see some ofthe wildlife along its banks. The riverineforest is quite different in character to thelowland dipterocarp forest at Danum Valley,and it will provide us with an opportunity ofseeing species seldom encounteredelsewhere. We will be looking particularlyfor the remarkable Proboscis Monkey, andthe handsome, and now sadly muchdepleted, Wrinkled Hornbill. From our lodgein the forest we will explore a series ofox-bow lakes that are home to the littleknown Storm's Stork and the Jerdon'sBaza, and also visit nesting colonies ofBlack-nest and Mossy-nest Swiftletslocated in the dramatic Gomantong Caves.Moving on, we will break our long journeywest with a night at Sepilok and a visit tothe Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre for afascinating insight into the conservation ofthese endearing apes. Our next destination is Mount KinabaluNational Park. This magnificent park ofabout 77,000 hectares was established in1964 to protect the massif of MountKinabalu, and the surrounding area. Themontane forests of Mount Kinabalu providean unrivalled opportunity of seeing most ofBorneo's montane birds and some equallyimpressive pitcher plants. At lowerelevations we will hope to find Whitehead'sTrogon and Whitehead's Broadbill, whilst athigher elevations we will look for the FriendlyWarbler, Black-breasted Triller, KinabaluSerpent Eagle and Mountain Blackbird. Forthose really adventurous among the group,there will be the opportunity to climb to thesummit of this 4,101-metre mountain, whichat dawn provides unforgettable views acrossnorthern Sabah.From our comfortable base at theheadquarters of Kinabalu National Park, we will visit the forest around the PoringHot Springs. Here, we will look forsub-montane forest birds, and the world'slargest flower, the massive and astonishingRafflesia. Of the world's dozen species,the flower of the largest, which is found onSumatra, grows up to one metre across!Finally, before our return flight to London, we will visit one of the smallislands lying off Kota Kinabalu, in search of the Philippine Scrubfowl. Like allscrubfowl, this remarkable bird buries itseggs in a large mound of vegetation, and the heat generated by this fermentingmass of vegetation actually incubates the eggs! Mount Kinabalu & theRainforests of BorneoA 21-day birdwatching extravaganza to the lowland and montane forests of the Malaysian province of Sabah in northern Borneo.Friday 20th September - Thursday 10th October Cost: £5,995An extension to Taman Negara National Park is available on request. Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationMOUNTKINABALUKINABATANGANRIVERSANDAKANSEPILOKSEGAMARIVERDANUM VALLEYLAHAD DATUSULU SEACELEBES SEASABAHKOTA KINABALUOutline itineraryDay 1Depart London. Day 2Arrive Kota Kinabalu,flying on to Lahad Datu. Day 3/7Danum ValleyConservation Area. Day 8/10Kinabatangan River. Day 11Sepilok Orang-utanRehabilitation Centre. Day 12/17Kinabalu National Park. Day 18/19Kota Kinabalu. Day 20Depart Kota Kinabalu. Day 21Arrive London.AccommodationA variety of comfortable hotels,jungle lodges and mountain chalets,most with private facilities.FoodIncluded in the price, except forlunches and dinners at KotaKinabalu. Allow £20.GradingA. Gentle, daily birdwatching walks.FocusBirds and mammals.LeaderChris Kehoe or Alan Curry, plus localguide.Single room supplement£695.ExtensionsArranged on request.Web quick search: MYS03217Mount KinabaluProboscis MonkeyThick-billed Spiderhunter

In the far south-west of China lies theprovince of Yunnan. Bordering Vietnam,Laos, Burma and Tibet, it contains amosaic of ethnic groups, but its north-western corner is Tibetan, once part of theancient Tibetan province of Kham. Schoolatlases show the extreme altitude of thegreat Himalayan range and the Tibetanplateau in purple, and this spills untidilysouth-eastwards into China. Here, threegreat Asian rivers - the Yangtse, theMekong and the Salween - emerge fromthe heart of Tibet and forge their waytowards the sea, carving a path through thehighest mountains in the world. In south-eastern Tibet and Yunnan, they chart aclose and parallel course, separated bymountains that rise to 6,000 metres andmore, before going their separate ways: theYangtse in a dramatic bend to the east tofertilise one of the greatest of allcivilisations, the Mekong into Laos andVietnam, and the Salween into Burma. This dramatic region has always beenconsidered remote by the Chinese, letalone Europeans, and it was not until late inthe 19th century that intrepid Westernersfirst penetrated the wild region of Kham.Amongst these explorers were some of thegreat plant-hunters, who came in search ofone of the richest temperate floras in theworld. In particular, the cool, temperateclimate of the Yunnan highlands, togetherwith plentiful summer rainfall, made plantsfrom this region ideal for establishing inBritish gardens. The plant-hunters ErnestWilson, George Forrest and Frank Kingdon-Ward, therefore found rich pickings. Trees,shrubs and herbaceous perennials hithertounknown to science were brought back inabundance following their adventurousjourneys in the early years of the 20thcentury, and today provide many of ourclassic garden plants. After flying to Kunming, we begin ouradventure in Lijiang, in the west of Yunnan.This is an ideal place to start as it issituated at a relatively low altitude (2,000metres). A couple of days in the region willtherefore allow us to acclimatise before weexplore the higher country to the north.Lijiang is a World Heritage Site and hometo the Naxi, a colourful ethnic minority witha matriarchal society; we will stay nearby inYuhu, a peaceful village beneath thebeautiful Jade Dragon Mountain, where ourcomfortable lodge provides an ideal basefrom which to sample the region's botanicaldelights. We will then cross the Yangtseand head into the higher country, spendingtwo days in the village of Haba. Along theway, as we travel through forests andmeadows amidst spectacular mountainsand gorges, we will enjoy the rich waysideflora. The lily Nomocharis, for example, isso abundant that local children collect themlike daisies; Iris bulleyanaand bright blueCorydalisgrow abundantly beside ripplingstreams, and a greater range of Arisaemaspecies is found here than anywhere elsein the world. Next, we travel to Zhongdian. Nowrenamed Shangri-La by the authorities, butstill known as Gyalthang by its Tibetaninhabitants, this small regional capital sitson a 3,000-metre plateau surrounded bytranquil farmland, forests and mountains,and dotted with villages with splendidlybuilt and ornamented wooden houses. Wewill stay for three nights near the restoredTibetan Buddhist monastery, a base fromwhich we will explore the surroundingvalleys, lakes and hills. Here, wholemeadows are brim-full with Primula-especially P. secundifloraand P. sikkimensis- interspersed with multi-colouredPedicularis, carpets of Incarvilleaand thelarge flowers of slipper orchids(Cypripediumspp.); rocky banks arecovered with the blue poppy Meconopsishorridulaand grasslands with beautifulEuphorbiaand scented Stellera, whilsthigher up, forests of lilac give way to aplethora of Rhododendronspecies, manynow introduced into Britain. Driving north, we next focus on Big SnowMountain. We will explore this region onfoot, staying first at Geza and then nearWengshui for two nights as we search themountain for its alpine flora, and also thehighly biodiverse Birang Gorge. Then wewill descend to the bottom of the YangtseValley, where we will feel the change to anear tropical climate, before ascendingagain, through forests of rhododendronsand meadows of primulas, peonies andother exciting plants, onto the Baima Passat 4,000 metres. This marks the watershedbetween the Yangtse and Mekong Rivers,and the mountains around the pass arespectacular and full of fascinating alpines.Depending on the weather, we will eitherset up camp near the pass to explore, orbase ourselves in Deqen, a small townbelow with views across the Mekong (2,000metres below!) to Kawakarpo, theunclimbed holy mountain of the Tibetanswhich stands between the Mekong and theSalween. After four days of botanicalexploration in the region, we must driveback across the Yangtse to Zhongdian forour flights home.This exciting and pioneering trip is not onlyan introduction to a botanical paradise, butto some of the most spectacular andfascinating country in the world, still barelytravelled by Westerners.China (Yunnan) - A Plant-hunter's ParadiseAn adventurous 19-day holiday to a botanist's paradise, the mountains of north-western Yunnan, following in the footsteps of such pioneering plant-hunters of the last century as Kingdon-Ward, Forrest and Wilson.Saturday 25th May - Wednesday 12th June Cost: £4,995 Outline itineraryDay 1Depart London.Day 2Kunming.Day 3/4Fly Lijiang; transferYuhu.Day 5/6Haba.Day 7/9Zhongdian.Day 10Geza.Day 11/12Wengshui.Day 13Zhongdian.Day 14Baima Nature Reserve.Day 15/16Deqen and Hong Po.Day 17Zhongdian.Day 18Kunming.Day 19Fly London.AccommodationThe best available hotels andlodges (some simple but clean).FoodAll included in the price.Grading B/C. The walking on this tour ismoderate rather than strenuous,but travelling in this part of Chinacan be demanding.Focus Botany, though birds and the richlocal cultures will not be ignored.LeaderJohn Shipton. Single room/tentsupplement£550.Web quick search: CHN03218Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryYUNNANLAOSMYANMARVIETNAMDEQENZHONGDIANLIJIANGKUNMINGMeconopsis horridulaOld lady spinningPrayer flags, Melung Glacier