Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Songpan Travel Info.

I thought I would add a few more pictures of Songpan along with some travel info about what you can expect on a horse trek.

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The bus from Chengdu takes about 9 hours and you should take some drugs if you get motion sickness (several people threw up both ways). The buses to/from Chengdu leave early in the morning.

The Horse Trek

We used the Shun Jiang/Happy Trails Horse Trekking company. It is right there on the main road but there is another horse trekking company near the teahouses (near #20 on the Lonely Planet map) if you want an alternative.

There was a 3 and 4 day horse trek to ‘Ice Mountain’ available (we didn’t ask about any other destinations). The 3 and 4 day treks both cost the same amount–450 RMB per person. I am pretty sure that the two treks go to the exact same place which is a viewing point of ice mountain. Not to ice mountain itself. The big difference is on the second day the 4 day group rides for about 2.5 hours and makes camp by a river (we saw their camp on the way back from ice mountain) at a truly beautiful spot. The 3 day trek rides up to the viewing point and back to the original camp which makes for a very long day (more on that below).

Don’t get too put off by the staff at the Shun Jiang company. They were a little grumpy but I think they are just a little burned out at the end of high season. The main guy is a real character–he always wears a sports jacket and has his hand on his hip with a cig (you’ll see). We had two guides specifically looking after us and they were both great even though they didnt speak English. People who are looking to have a chat with them or want info on sights may be disappointed.

The food was very good even if it was all vegetarian. The first day we had fresh bread and tomatoes for a late afternoon snack and then a bigger dinner with noodles that night. The second day we had fried bread (donuts) made that morning and potatoes/pumpkin for breakfast. That night we had a medley of veggies with rice. I don’t remember what we had the final day but I would rate the quality as high and never felt like we were having leftovers.

At the same time I recommend that you bring snacks for yourself–there are some long rides and you will want something to eat. You can buy a variety of bread, candy and chips in Songpan before leaving. There were also two ‘stores’ around on the trek so you don’t necessarily have to bring all the liquids with you. Even though it was August we found that we didnt drink a lot of water because we were mostly riding and the upper areas were refreshingly cool.

You will have to hike down some slopes–especially the steep ones. This is to give the horses a rest and, I expect, to keep people from falling off the horses. So, be prepared to go down for about 45 min or an hour in three or four places. Sometimes this feels great because you need to walk but I was always happy when it was time to remount.

Tents were provided with extra blankets. It was cold at night even in the middle of August. I bet it was about 5 degrees Celsius. Their sleeping bags were of good quality.

Here is an outline of the general trek:

Day 1, 8:30am: Start out riding for about 5 hours up and down mountains. One major break but no food provided. At this point both the 3 day and 4 day treks are riding together. Camp around 2:30pm. Get snack and wait until dinner at 7pm. This is your personal hiking/book reading time.

Day 2, 9am: 3 day trekkers leave and ride non-stop for about 2.5 hours through amazing forests and valleys. After a short break you continue to climb for about another hour or so to Ice Mountain viewing point. Enjoy about a 30 minute break at 4400 m elevation and then walk down the steep mountain for 45 min. Ride back the same route to your original camp stopping twice for quick breaks. Total time for us on day 2 was about 7.5 hours.

Day 3, 9am: Ride through new terrain for about 5 hours. Several short stops and one long one outside a temple with lots of cool prayer wheels. There are several places where we had to walk downhill for 30 minutes or so.

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One last note on the trek. We had great weather but there were a number of places I wouldn’t wanted to have dealt with if it was raining or muddy.

Other notes on Songpan

We stayed at Yulan guesthouse/hotel. It is recommended by LP and is right above the restaurant. The whole place seems to be run by 12 year olds who speak perfect english. They were a lot of fun and the rooms were clean with western style bathrooms. We paid 150 RMB/night in high season. Others stayed at Shun Jiang guesthouse but didnt seem too happy with it. There looks like a new hostel (Ice Mountain hostel) has just opened up and looked pretty good. It is right by Emma’s Kitchen

I really recommend that you take a stroll down to the teahouses. That part of the town is really interesting and fun. We recommend the Tibetian restaurant down there as well. They do have an English menu.

That is all I can think of and I hope it helps you out!

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August 20, 2007 - Posted by | China, Rural, Sichuan, Travel, Wildlife

1 Comment »

  1. Very interesting shots from more travel / thanx for sharing.R

    Comment by Riki | September 11, 2007 | Reply


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