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Travel from mainland China to Tibet and experience the splendour of the ancient Shoton Festival on this 8-day tour. Begin and end in the capital of Sichuan - Chengdu - and journey into Lhasa, the capital and spiritual heart of Tibet. Here you will encounter ancient mythology, historic temples and rich and fascinating culture the region is known for. Watch pandas at a research centre in Chengdu, discover the grand former residence of the Dalai Lama, be captivated by a monk debate and celebrate Shoton with locals and pilgrims.
ChengduNi Hao! Welcome to Chengdu – the capital of Sichuan Province. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. If you arrive with a few hours (or a few days) to spare, perhaps begin exploring the vast city independently. Tomorrow will bring a guided tour and panda encounter, so spare time today might be best spent getting familiar with the spicy cuisine the region is known for. The classic dishes that originate from Chengdu are widely considered the best in the country, which is no mean feat in a country this food-focused. After the group welcome meeting, get to know each other and the cuisine over an authentic Sichuan hot pot dinner, known locally as 'huo guo' (which roughly translates to 'fire pot').
ChengduVisit the Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre and witness the conservation efforts being made to save this endearing endangered species. There are only around 1000 pandas left in the world and 80% of them are found in the mountains in Sichuan Province. The facility was set up 30 years ago with just a handful of rescued animals and there are now more than 80 giant and red pandas living at the base. The pandas have over 600 acres of parkland to live in and you can get up close and watch them play, eat bamboo and climb the trees. In the afternoon, explore Chengdu on a leader-guided tour. Begin with Tianfu Square, overlooked by a large statue of Chairman Mao, then unwind at Renmin Park (People's Park). Enjoy a cup of tea and relax with the locals, observing games of mah-jong, choir practise and group exercise. Enjoy a peaceful evening in preparation for tomorrow’s adventure.
Lhasa (3656 metres)Board a plane and fly into Tibet's capital of Lhasa (approximately 2.5 hours). Colourful, historic and holy, Lhasa is a lofty valley town that sits at an eye-watering altitude of 3650 metres. For years even the most adventurous and hardy of foreign explorers rarely reached the city, either because of treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. Nowadays, tourists are welcomed, but Lhasa remains a city of strong tradition and deep mythology. Your Tibetan leader and driver will greet you at the airport. Make the 1-hour drive to the hotel. It’s advisable to limit any physical activity for the rest of the day as you give your body time to acclimatise.
LhasaRise and shine to begin your exploration of Lhasa. Visit the Potala Palace, the historic winter residence of the Dalai Lama between 1649 to 1959. Perched 130 metres above the city, Potala is an architectural wonder with breathtaking views. Explore the complex with your local guide, including the tombs of former incarnations of the Dalai Lama, then continue to Jokhang Temple, considered the most sacred in Tibet. Wander around the six-acre site and take in both the temple itself, the golden Buddha which stands in the centre and the throngs of devotees who are overcome with emotion upon entering. In the afternoon, visit Sera Monastery to watch monks debate each other on tenants of Buddhism. While you won’t understand much (unless you’re fluent in Standard Tibetan), this stylised debate is a joy to watch unfold.
Lhasa – Shoton FestivalTranslating literally as ‘Yoghurt Banquet’, the Shoton Festival (or Sho Dun Festival) began as a religious event in the 11th century where locals would offer yoghurt to monks returning from prayer retreats. Today, it is one of the largest – and grandest – festivals in Tibet. This morning get your first taste of the revelry when you travel to Drepung Monastery to witness the ceremonial unveiling of a 40-metre-high Thangka painting of the Buddha, the official opening of Shoton. In the afternoon, travel to Norbulingka Palace to witness an outdoor opera among the colourful flower gardens that decorate the Dalai Lamas former summer residence. Rub shoulders with the locals as you take in the colourful spectacle of a traditional Tibetan opera.
Ganden Monastery – LhasaTravel to Ganden Monastery (approximately 2 hours) for a day tour of the rambling 15th-century complex. Participate in a kora, a form of meditative pilgrimage that involves walking the circumference of the monastery. Enjoy as picnic lunch with views of the surrounding grey mountains and the Lhasa River. Return to Lhasa in the afternoon for free time to explore of relax at your leisure. Perhaps wander the hand-polished stones that pave Barkhor Street and shop for souvenirs or simply watch the pilgrims who come to use the circular road for kora, as was originally intended.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
ChengduBoard a morning flight to Chengdu, arriving at around midday. Enjoy a free afternoon to soak up Chengdu further. Perhaps visit the tranquil grounds of the Wenshu Temple, or take a ramble down the Jinli Pedestrian Street, where Qing Dynasty-era buildings house shops, cafes and bars. As night falls, choose whether to enjoy an optional dinner with your group.
ChengduThe tour will come to an end today after breakfast. If you have booked a late flight, it is possible to store your luggage at the hotel during the day if you need.
- Complimentary Airport Arrival Transfer
- Chengdu - Giant Panda Breeding Research Base (entrance fee & transport included)
- Chengdu - People's Park & Tianfu Square
- Chengdu - Tea Tasting
- Lhasa - Potala Palace (entrance fee included)
- Lhasa - Sera Monastery (entrance fee & transport included)
- Lhasa - Jokhang Temple
- Lhasa - Drepung Monastery (entrance fee)
- Lhasa - Norbulingka Palace (entrance fee)
- Lhasa - Ganden Monastery (entrance fee)
7 Breakfast(s) Included
1 Lunch(es) Included
1 Dinner(s) Included
Health and Safety Protocols for Peregrine Tours
Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced protocols in hygiene and sanitation. We will put in place additional measures, in line with government health advice and with global health authorities (including the WHO and CDC) to ensure that we maintain the highest standards of cleanliness and hygiene.
Handwashing is one of the most important safety measures to prevent the spread of disease. Intrepid will actively reinforce its importance by:
- Implementing a handwashing policy that dictates when, how often and for how long all staff, leaders and crew must wash their hands on-trip.
- Promote the importance of hand hygiene to customers through signage and online customer material.
- Contract suppliers that have hand hygiene protocols in place
- Contract suppliers that provide hand sanitizer in public places (where applicable)
- Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of hand hygiene via training.
Practicing good respiratory hygiene prevents the spread of disease by reducing the number of droplets in the air when you sneeze or cough. Intrepid will:
- Actively reinforce its importance to customers through signage and online customer material.
- Educate staff, leaders, crew and suppliers on the importance of respiratory hygiene via training.
- Contract suppliers who have respiratory hygiene protocols in place.
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them. Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that masks should only be used as part of a comprehensive prevention strategy and that the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Physical distancing, hand hygiene and respiratory hygiene must also form part of the strategy.
On our trips, regardless of destination, the following people must wear medical/surgical masks:
- Anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 regardless of whether or not they have been tested yet.
- People caring for people with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 cases (outside of hospitals/clinics).
In addition, in areas with high community transmission and/or places that are difficult to maintain physical distancing, we recommend the the following at-risk people also wear them.
- People over 60
- People with underlying health conditions
- Provide medical/surgical masks as part of the First Aid Kits carried by leaders.
- Educate leaders, crew, staff and customers on the correct method to wear, handle and dispose of a mask.
- Require all customers, leaders and staff to comply with any local regulations or requirements that require the use of a mask in public or in certain places
Intrepid follows the advice of the World Health Organisation (WHO) that it is not necessary for the public to wear fabric masks generally.
However in certain circumstances, in places where community transmission of COVID-19 is high and/or physical distancing is not possible (e.g. on public transport, in shops or in other confined environments) then a fabric mask can be a useful barrier to prevent the spread of virus.
Fabric masks be purchased commercially or handmade, and are generally not standardised like medical masks. Fabric masks should:
- Cover the nose, mouth, and chin
- Be secured with elastic loops or ties
- Include multiple layers
- Be washable and reusable.
Protection against COVID-19 as well as other transmissible diseases requires enhanced sanitation processes. Intrepid will take the following measures:
- Require all suppliers to detail their cleaning and sanitation protocols
- Audit/monitor all suppliers on their cleanliness and sanitation.
- All cleaning and disinfecting products must be approved by health authorities (e.g. WHO).
- All rooms must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer should be available in public areas.
- There must be a process in place for customers to escalate any concerns regarding hygiene or sanitation.
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- All tents must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between use.
- If staying at a campground, ensure all bathrooms are well stocked with hand soap and paper towels. If the area is remote, with limited facilities and/or minimal staffing, then customers should be informed to bring their own hygiene equipment.
- All mini buses, transfers, charters, overland trucks must be thoroughly cleaned between guests with all high touch surfaces in shared areas regularly cleaned and disinfected.
- Hand sanitizer should be made available
- Close top bins with bin liners should be available on board and disposed of at every stop
- Must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each day
- Tables and chairs must be disinfected after each guest use
- Avoid buffets where possible. If buffets are used, prevent customers from handling food and operating machines (e.g. self-serve coffee stations)
- Either disinfect shared use objects (e.g. table salt) between guest use. Where possible, Intrepid will try to source safe alternatives to single serve packaging.
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
- Preferred: Provide hand sanitizer to guests at the door before entry
- All equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between guest us
- Staff must be trained and able to answer questions regarding safety protocols in place.
Limiting the number of surfaces touched by large numbers of people helps prevent the spread of disease. Therefore, it is important to proactively move towards contactless or low touch solutions for travel. Intrepid will:
- Prioritise contactless/low touch as a key feature when sourcing new tech or solutions.
- Remove any paperwork required on the ground (e.g. signing forms, feedback cards)
- If details must be entered using a shared device (e.g. insurance details), then it must be disinfected between each customer. Preference is to move entirely to digital solutions.
- Accommodation should provide online check in (no paperwork)
- Contactless keys (e.g. QR codes)
- Contactless tech (e.g. lights)
- Online ticketing for attractions and transport
- Online payment
Physical distancing is important in the preventing the spread of COVID-19 as it can be transmitted via droplets sprayed when coughing, sneezing, singing, yelling etc…
Intrepid will take the following measures:
- Require all suppliers to detail their physical distancing protocols
- Follow local regulation and advice on the need for physical distancing.
We will continue to offer this as an option. Single supplements are available for single travellers who do not wish to share a room. We will work closely with accommodation suppliers to ensure increased availability of single rooms.
- Consider whether it is appropriate to offer single tents for solo travellers as customers will be much closer together then in a traditional room.
- Consider whether staggering meal times may reduce the number of people sharing a dining tent.
Intrepid will consider the following factors when designing or amending transport options on trips.
- Local laws or requirements regarding physical distancing on transport
- Hygiene protocols of the transport provider
- Level of active community transmission in the destination
- Using designated seating on transport. Customers have assigned seats throughout the trip.
- If trip is longer than 15 minutes and air conditioning is available, it must be set to external airflow rather than to recirculation or windows should be opened for the duration of the trip.
- Designing or amending itineraries to reduce the duration of travel.
- Increasing the size of the vehicle, using multiple vehicles.
- Educate all leaders, crew, staff and customers to maintain a 1.5m distance wherever practical in public (e.g. queueing at a museum).
- Proactively design product to avoid crowds by visiting attractions at off-peak times.
- Proactively design product to avoid crowds on public transport or at airports where practical.
- Follow local regulations on table spacing and guest seating in restaurants. Wherever possible, try to ensure groups are sitting at their own table without strangers in restaurants.
- Proactively design product that focuses on experiences that assist with physical distancing (e.g. picnics over crowded marketplaces) if relevant for that destination.
Screening for COVID-19 helps isolate anyone with COVID-19 symptoms and stops the spread of disease. It is likely to become more common for future travellers.
Pre-Departure (Brand Material)
Customers should be informed as part of ‘Essential Trip Information (ETIs) or other similar trip notes if their trip is likely to include any of the following:
- Testing for COVID-19 before being able to pass through immigration and/or board planes.
- Negative test results to be uploaded for visa purposes.
- Thermal temperature checks in airports, train or bus stations, major hotels or attractions.
Pre-departure, all customers are required to fill out an online questionnaire (“self- declaration/assessment” form) to identify any high-risk customers before travel.
Extra qualifiers will be included to address customers with symptoms that can be contributed to pre-existing conditions (e.g. breathlessness to asthma).
Customers answering YES to any question should be removed from the departure and appropriate arrangements made.
Intrepid will not require a negative COVID-19 test as proof of health from customers or leaders at this stage unless it is required by local law or regulations.
This is partially due to the lack of availability of testing for people with no symptoms in many parts of the world and may change in due course.
- Ask customers, leaders, crew and staff to monitor their own health
- Display appropriate signage on COVID-19 symptoms
- Educate leaders, crew and staff on how to identify COVID-19 symptoms
- Describe COVID-19 symptoms in group meetings
If customers, leaders or crew show symptoms of COVID-19 and are either unable to or unwilling to be tested, Intrepid reserves the right to remove them from our trips to prevent any risk to others.
Flexible Booking Conditions
Customers will be supported by flexible booking conditions to stay home if unwell or displaying symptoms
Flexible Work Conditions
Intrepid will support leaders and crew to stay home rather than lead a trip if they are unwell or displaying symptoms. Schedules will need to be created with back up availability of leaders/crew.
Data Collection & Health Tracking
Intrepid will assist government health departments in tracking and tracing any customers, staff, leaders, crew or suppliers at risk of contracting COVID-19 via exposure to a known case and/or outbreak by providing relevant details in line with privacy laws and regulations.
COVID Tracking apps
Intrepid strongly recommends that customers and staff download COVID tracking apps (e.g. COVIDSafe in Australia, StayHomeSafe in Hong Kong) to assist in reducing the spread of disease within their communities.
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