On the way to Shangri-La we'll stop off for a hike in Tiger Leaping Gorge, the Grand Canyon of China. It's a spectacular canyon between Yulong Xue Shan and Haba Xue Shan. Sometime in the geologic past a large rock fell into the channel, resulting in gigantic rapids. The local myth is that a tiger leaped down from Yulong Xue Shan, onto the rock and then back up onto Haba Xue Shan.s

Shangri-La (elevation 3,300 meters) in western Yunnan Province used to be called Zhongdian, but when China opened this region up to tourism about a decade ago, they renamed it Shangri-La, after British author James Hilton's 1933 book Lost Horizon. You'll get a chance to ride Tibetan Horses in a large grass filled intermountain valley that's an ephemeral lake in the wet season. We'll also tour a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery that was built in the 1600's but then rebuilt in 1979 after it was completely destroyed during the cultural revolution.

A day-trip north of Shangri-La will allow us to touch oceanic crust and mantle that was once part of the ocean-floor that separated India and Asia, prior to their collision around 40 million years ago.

If you ever wanted to taste authentic yak butter tea, this will be your chance.