The giant panda is China’s unofficial mascot, and Sichuan, a region located nearly in the centre of the country, has long been home to these cherished animals. To help save the giant panda from extinction, Sichuan has created a multitude of breeding centres, reserves, and research facilities. These reserves provide the modern tourist with a variety of unique opportunities to see pandas in their natural environment.
Here are a few of our favourite “out of the usual” panda sightings in China:
Chengdu Panda Research Center
Within Chengdu’s city limits lies the Chengdu Panda Breeding and Research Center. This centre is mostly educational, and the keepers provide visitors with a lot of knowledge. You’ll learn how much bamboo a panda requires each day and get a taste of the cookies that keepers created specifically to ensure the pandas get adequate nutrition. You could have an opportunity to see baby pandas here, which is an even better treat than eating the delicious biscuits. The keepers will be hand-rearing a number of cuddly newborns depending on the time of year. You may be just a few metres away from some of the world’s prettiest newborn animals at the Chengdu Breeding Center.
Dujiangyan Panda Reserve
In the Qingcheng Mountains, 1.5 hours outside of Chengdu, is located the Dujiangyan Panda Reserve. The facility was built with the primary objective of expanding the population of wild pandas, thus the grounds are designed to mimic their natural environment. The keepers at Dujiangyan are preparing the pandas to live and flourish in the wild. In Dujiangyan, you’ll trek through bamboo-covered hills in search of pandas, and you may even volunteer as a panda keeper for the day. You’ll get the opportunity to feed the pandas and clean their enclosures.
Laohegou Land Trust Reserve
Giant pandas use Laohegou, a 325-acre Land Trust Reserve in Western Sichuan, as a major migration route. The reserve is not available to the general public, but WildChina can arrange exclusive access for you, allowing you to learn about giant pandas in a very unique way. You’ll track pandas with a conversationalist here, and while seeing pandas in the wild is exceedingly uncommon, you’ll learn about the vital work being done to protect them. Other species that may be found in Laohegou include golden snub-nosed monkeys, Asian golden cats, musk deer, and black bears.
What are you waiting for then? Pack your bags and set out for your much awaited panda tours.