5-Day Highlands around Shangrila Trek

If you are coming to Shangrila seeking the paradise on earth described by James Hilton, then this is the tour for you. Over the 5 days you will hike through picturesque Tibetan villages, lush meadows dotted with grazing yaks and vibrant rhododendron forests. Add to this the beautiful panoramas of the three highland lakes,  Seven Coloured Waterfall and Shudu Lake, and you will be convinced that you have discovered the true Shangrila.

Tour starts/finishes: Zhongdian
Fitness required: High
Time of year available: April-November
Time of year recommended: April-May, September-early November

Detailed itinerary

Day 1: Zhongdian-Niru village (L, D)
Drive for 5 hours from Zhongdian to Niru village (2700m). On the way, you will pass Lisu and Tibetan minority villages, Guangmen Mountain, the Ying River Waterfall and the nature cave. Overnight in a small guesthouse in Niru.

Day 2: Niru-Nanbao Yak Meadow-Three Lakes- Nanbao Yak Meadow (B, L, D)
Hike for 4 hours to Nanbao Yak Meadow (3500m), very close to the border of Sichuan and Yunnan provinces. Stop for a picnic lunch. In the afternoon, hike for a further 3 hours to visit the beautiful panorama of the “Three Lakes”: Ding Hu, Nabocuona Hu, and Selai Hu Overnight in tents on Nanbao Yak Meadow.

Day 3: Nanbao Yak Meadow-Niru Village (B, L, D)
Hike for approx 3 hours from Nanbao Yak Meadow back down to Niru Village. In the afternoon visit Niru elementary school and have a good rest ready for tomorrow’s long day of hiking. Overnight at a small guesthouse in Niru.

Day 4: Niru- Seven Coloured Waterfall- Bengalaka Mountain Pass- Dijie Yak Meadow (B, L, D)
Today is a very long, tough day of hiking. You will hike around 12 km from Niru village (2700 m) to the yak pastures near Shudu Lake (3600 m). First, brave the steep 4 hour climb to the “7 coloured waterfalls” (3150 m) where you will stop for a picnic lunch. Then continue climbing through virgin forests across the Bengalaka Mountain Pass (3980 m), where you will overlook Dalagong Mountain. Arrive in the Dijie Yak Meadow in the late afternoon and set up camp for overnight.

Day 5: Shudu Lake-Tiansheng Hot Springs-Zhongdian
(B, L)
A short one hour hike will take you to Shudu Lake where you will be met by a driver. Visit the Tiansheng Bridge Hot Springs to soak your tired muscles. Return to Zhongdian. Have a final celebratory meal and join in with local Tibetans in the Old town square for some spirited dancing. Overnight in Zhongdian.

Tour prices

The following table shows the price per person for groups of varying sizes.

2 people 3 people 4-5 people 6-7 people 8+ people
Price (p.p.) 3900 CNY 2900 CNY 2650 CNY 2200 CNY 2000 CNY

Price inclusions

  1. Accommodation: All travellers spend 2 nights in simple guesthouses or homestay, and 2 nights camping
  2. Entrance tickets: Pudacuo National Park (190 CNY), Tiansheng Hot Springs (80 CNY)
  3. All transportation:  Transportationby 2WD is provided for all transfers
  4. Meals : 4 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners as indicated on the itinerary. Lunches and dinners will be standard Chinese food including rice and a variety of meat and vegetable dishes when in Niru village. On long hiking days you will take a picnic lunch of boiled eggs, dried biscuits etc. Dinner when camping will be some meat and vegetables with rice.
  5. Guide: An experienced English speaking tour guide
  6. Horse hire: One horse will be provided for every 4 travellers to carry  camping equipment and food supplies
  7. Camping equipment: Tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads

Price exclusions

  1. Porters/horses to carry personal luggage
  2. Travel insurance
  3. Snacks, drinks and western food
  4. Personal expenses such as phone calls, laundry or porters’ fees


  1. Surcharges will be charged for peak travelling times such as Chinese New Year, May Day (May 1st-7th) and National Day (October 1st-7th). For tours at these times please contact us for a customized quote.
  2. The prices quoted are to be used as a guide only. A final tour quote will be provided to you at the time of enquiry which may be higher or lower than the price listed above.


Below are some images from previous tours in this area. Click to view larger images.

Travellers’ feedback

Cat and Louis write….

The Shangrila – Niru loop was a great start and first taste of rural China. We travelled part of the way by tractor which was great fun. We camped in Hongxing with a family who invited us in for barley wine round the fire. Continuing up to Niru, we stayed with a fantastic family, 3 generations who let us put up our tents on their balcony. This was highly practical in fact, more assurance that the sleeping bags and tents were totally clean (bags were really warm, thanks), better than the beds!  Great shower there as well and very clean. Shimu was our hostess’ name.

From Niru, we travelled with Shimu and her donkey, to 7 Coloured Waterfall which was lovely – then up up up to the Dijie Yak Meadow. We were about to camp there when Shimu got talking to a local shepherd, and we ended up staying the night in his hut. Around the fire, in the dark, eating rice, dried yak, with the dogs, horses and our donkey just outside – this was probably the most magical unplanned night of our trip. Shimu talked in Tibetan to the shepherd, Lily translated to us.

Next to Pudacuo National Park – which felt tame compared to the raw beauty of Dijie, but was fun to experience the Chinese bus-tourism style. We had a nice walk around the lake where there were not many people.

Truly a great trip and one about which we are still enthusiastically talking.

Evelyn Wong writes….

Eleanor, Yeshe, Evelyn and ElaineI just wanted to say that I had the most wonderful time in Lijiang, Niru Village, Yak Meadows at Bengalaka and finally in Shangri-la. Prior to this trip I was slightly concerned as to how it might turn out given my limited hiking experience but now I am so glad I went!

Mr Mu, like you mentioned, is very gentle natured, genuine and so easy going. Our hike across the Tiger Leaping Gorge was simply breathtaking and I am glad that we hiked up the infamous “28 bends” otherwise we would not have seen such lovely views of Yulong Snow Mountain.

We had a fantastic time with Yeshe as well- he was very reliable, obliging and looked after us three girls so well throughout the hike. There were a couple of tough moments during the hike up Bengalaka but Yeshe saved the day by singing Tibetan songs across the valley (at that point, every bit of encouragement helped immensely!) Yeshe is also such great fun to be around, there was never a dull moment which made it all the more enjoyable. I felt so lucky to be exposed to the culture and traditions of both the Naxi and Tibetan people. This was no doubt enhanced by the fact that Mr Mu and Yeshe were ethnic Naxi and Tibetan.

Finally, the bikeride on the last day in Shangrila was the perfect way to end our trip. Yeshe took us through the backroads of Shangri-la town- we rode up a hill, cycled past Tibetan houses, watched cows and pigs grazing in the pastures, watched the beautiful mountains in the background, shared more stories and more laughs.

I hope I haven’t written too much Tania but words simply cannot appropriately describe how I feel. This morning when I went to work I still felt like I was at the Yak Meadows. It’s going to take me a long time to get back to “reality”!


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