Yunnan 2003 Expedition Info for members

Info for members:

(Last updated 10th July 2003)


Expedition Dates
Tian Xing expedition
Kitty expenditure
Travel to & from expedition
Medical
Kit
Visa
Insurance
Warning
Previous Yunnan expeditions

Expedition Dates

The expedition will run for 5 weeks, from Friday July 18st to Thursday August 21th. You needn’t join the whole of the expedition, although you can - general advice is that 3 weeks is the minimum to make an expedition trip to China worthwhile. This is up to you, but count on spending around 3 days at each end of your trip travelling between your house and the expedition field location, and also bear in mind that you may need time to acclimatise for high altitude work.

An advance party (Hilary Greaves and Rich Gerrish) will fly out on Monday 14th, to run SRT training for local expedition members with limited SRT experience, and to explore the Xiaozhongdian caves.

Tian Xing expedition

The HMG Tian Xing 2003 expediton will run in September 2003, after the end of Yunnan 2003. If you want to join that one, contact its leader, Erin Lynch. HMG Tian Xing page

Kitty expenditure

In Yunnan, we'll split food/local transport/etc costs between us, in proportion to the amount of time each expedition member spends on expedition. Expect to be contributing around UKP 7 per day to the kitty. You'll need to be able to contribute this in Chinese Yuan during the expedition - bring Traveller's Cheques (US Dollars or Sterling) and credit card (with PIN if poss).

Travel to & from expedition

The expedition base camp will be in Zhongdian; expedition members will make their own way to China, and we’ll meet up in Zhongdian. There are several sensible routes to Zhongdian - compare flight prices when you're buying your ticket.

  • Fly to Hong Kong. From here you can either fly to Kunming/Zhongdian direct (it should be possible to purchase tickets on arrival in Hong Kong, but I've never tried it - consult a guidebook or expert) or cross the border overland to Shenzen.

    From Shenzen you have several sub-options: (i)Domestic flight to Kunming (approx UKP70, 2 hours), then overnight bus to Zhongdian (approx UKP10, 10 hours). (ii) Domestic flight direct to Zhongdian (prices unknown). (iii) Get to Guangzhou (bus?), which is close to Shenzhen. From here trains to Kunming depart at 9am, arriving 3pm the following day (approx UKP25, i.e. best option if money is more of a concern than time).

  • Fly to Beijing, take domestic flight to Kunming (then bus) or direct to Zhongdian.
  • International flight with final destination Kunming, overnight bus to Zhongdian.
  • Tickets for domestic flights within China can apparently be obtained from overseas, sometimes in combination with international flights - Erin reports that tickets bought this way are generally significantly more expensive than tickets bought in China. I’ve always just turned up at the airport on the day I want to fly, or (when returning) bought a ticket in advance from the airport or from a travel agent in China.

    Medical

    The following immunisations are required or recommended for Yunnan: Hepititis A, typhoid, rabies, Japanese encaphilitis (optional), tetanus, polio.

    Malaria is not a major issue as we will usually be at high altitude – for the 2002 expedition, doctors regarded antimalarial drugs as “optional”, in the light of the expedition’s plans, even though not all our time was spent above malarial altitudes.

    Kit

    In addition to the usual expedition stuff, bear the following in mind when deciding what kit to bring/buy.

  • It can be damn cold. I recommend (from grim experience!) a 4 season sleeping bag.
  • At least one cave we’ll be exploring (C3-4) is very cold. Several layers of thermals/midlayers/undersuit wouldn’t go amiss.
  • You might want to have a lightweight SRT kit for surface recceing, to avoid carting round the full version when you don’t know whether you’ll be finding any pitches. (Carrying surplus kit is more of a pain than usual – altitude…)
  • We’ll be able to leave stuff at a base camp, and chances are you’ll be visiting/passing through the base camp fairly frequently, so you can bring comforts that you wouldn’t bother dragging up the hill, ‘clean’ town clothes, etc.
  • Visa

    Travel in China requires a tourist visa. This is easily obtainable from the Embassy in London or the Consulate in Manchester, either in person (UKP 30, allow 3 days) or by post (UKP 30 + 20, allow 3 weeks). It’s also possible to obtain tourist visas for China on arrival in Hong Kong (if that’s your route), same or next day (except weekends) depending on your arrival time.

    If you haven't already got your visa via the Beardy Machine, you'll need to arrange it yourself.

    Insurance

    Expedition members will need suitable insurance (including cover for caving, search and rescue, emergency evacuation, etc.). As far as I know the best option is BCRA or Endsleigh insurance. (All the group insurance options we looked into worked out more expensive than this.) Please let me (Hilary) know your insurance details as soon as you have them.

    Warning

    This is an expedition to a relatively untouched area – we spent a couple of weeks looking at these particular mountains in 2002, but that’s all the speleological attention the area has received. We think the area looks extremely interesting, but as with any expedition of this nature, there are no guarantees – no guarantees of deep caving, of pleasant caving or (if we’re unlucky) of not spending most of the 5 weeks on the surface looking for entrances. There’s also no guarantee of good weather (August is supposed to be the “rainy season” in Yunnan, although we haven’t seen much of this in 2001 or 2002). There is a guarantee that it’ll be hard work – a lot of the time we’ll be at altitudes between 4000m and 4500m, where walking up a gentle incline with a daysack feels like dragging a bus.

    Having said all that, if you have the requisite enthusiasm and ability to cave and/or cave-hunt, then we need your kind and we want to hear from you!

    Previous Yunnan expeditions

    For background, photos and more of the general feel of the Yunnan expeditions, check out the Yunnan 2001 and Yunnan 2002 websites. Yunnan 2002 Final Report