See the Renowned Panda—and Other Chinese Treasures—during Journey of Understanding

On Forum International’s “In Search of Wild Pandas” adventure, guests journey into the heart of China’s Qinling Mountains to watch the panda, as well as other endangered species, enjoy a protected but fragile environment. And that is only one of the highlights of Forum International’s Journey to Understanding in China, which explores one of the oldest cultures and countries in the world.

The Forum International touch begins at the Beijing Airport, where guests are met by a professional English-speaking guide; guides provide valuable insight and expertise every step of the 15-day trip. From the imperial Forbidden City to the Great Wall of China, from the Hutong alleys to the wide and straight Changan Avenue and from the courtyard houses to modern skyscrapers, Beijing offers visitors much to discover in its dynamic culture, tradition and heritage.

Adventures that follow include:
* climbing the Great Wall of China, an enormous manmade fortress of sorts stretching almost 4,500 miles from the Baohai Sea to the sands of Central Asia.
* visiting the Summer Palace, the largest imperial garden in China.
* visiting the Museum of the Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses, one of the greatest archaeological discoveries in the world with three exhibition halls housing the continuing excavation of an army of 8,000 terra-cotta soldiers and horses that guard the tomb of Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of the unified China.
* touring the Dujiangyan Irrigation System, which represents ancient China’s superb science and technology and is a milestone in the world history of water harnessing and irrigation technology advancement. Built around 256 BC, Dujiangyan is the world’s only and oldest diversion project without a dam. Still in use, it feeds a grid of irrigation canals watering 670,000 hectares of farmland.
* touring Suzhou, the city Marco Polo called the Venice of the Orient, which features the ancient Land and Water Gates, the mysterious millennium-old Auspicious Light Pagoda and the time-honored Wumen Bridge spanning the Grand Canal.
* Learning about China’s silk industry and the rich history and tradition of some of the finest silks in the world.
* experiencing Shanghai, China’s largest city and the economic, financial, and industrial center of the country. Sights of interest include Shanghai old town; the Yuyuan Garden; known as an architectural miracle in the region south of Yangtze River; the “Bund,” or waterfront, which provides a grand view of the Wall Street of the orient; and the famous Nanjing Shopping Road.

While these adventures are truly memorable, the real focus of this journey begins in Xian, the cradle of ancient Chinese civilization and capital of China for 11 dynasties. Here the group begins its search for giant pandas in Qinling Mountain. Panda experts present detailed lectures on panda’s lifestyle, behaviors, and habitats, then guide guests in their quest to see their words come alive as they search for giant pandas living in this remarkable mountain locale.

Symbol of the Worldwide Fund for Nature, the world-famous giant pandas is one of most endangered species in the world. This big, lovable black-and-white bear, also known as the Bamboo Bear, lives mostly on bamboo of different sorts—a diet that actually threatens the animal’s existence because once every 30-120 years, the bamboo plant flowers and dies.

The Qinling Mountains house a huge variety of plants and animals because the climate varies so much, and many plants in this area are endangered and protected, including ginkgo, the Chinese mountain larch, the miaotai maple, and the Chinese fir. Endangered species living in the mountains include the golden-haired monkey, taken, crested ibis, golden eagle and clouded leopard; these animals are often spotted on this one-of-a-kind trip to China.

Forum International prides itself as the company that presented adventure, nature and cultural travel to America and introduced ecotourism to the world. In 1965 the company coined the word ecotourism and established the Four Pillars of Ecotourism:
* minimum environment impact
* minimum impact on, and maximum respect for, host cultures
* maximum economic benefits to host country’s grass roots
* maximum recreational satisfaction to participating tourists: come back a new person!

Since 1956, Forum has developed more than 1200 tantalizing, top-quality, but affordable nature, wildlife, cultural, fitness and health & healing adventures. For more information about Forum International’s Journey to Understanding adventures in China, or any of the company’s other memorable offerings, call 925-671-2900 or visit www.foruminternational.com

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