Xizhou to Shaxi Tea Horse Trek

Available to order June, July and September 2012

COST: US$1,400 (7-day version); US$1,750 (9-day version)


This trek can be done as a 7- or 9-day journey with a minimum 4-person group. Please write to info@redrocktrek.com for further details and a complete dossier...


Xizhou to Shaxi Trek



  • Magnificent highland scenery, the best in China outside the Tibetan regions
  • Picturesque Bai villages untouched by mass tourism
  • Testing yet accessible six-day hike with full mule-team support
  • Witness traditional herding and other mountain-based lifestyles
  • Market day in Shaxi, where the cultures of the Bai and Yi peoples mingle
  • Command performance of ancient Bai music in a restored Qing-era temple
  • Beautifully restored historic guesthouses in Xizhou and Shaxi

We rate this as our finest short route: an accessible yet challenging trek between two key points on the old Tea and Horse Trail, taking in probably the best highland scenery south of the Tibetan Plateau. It can also be done in reverse direction.


Beginning on the Dali plain overlooking Erhai Lake, we first climb across Mt. Cangshan, the biggest mountain range south of the Yangtze River. Reaching altitudes as high as 3,300 meters above sea level, this first stretch qualifies as high-altitude trekking and passes through landscapes as wild and lovely as Yunnan’s Tibetan regions.


From Cangshan, we descend into the stunning Fengyu bazi (plain), before hiking over a lower range to Eryuan and Lake Cibi, which we cross by boat to reach the foot of the final mountain range before Shaxi. A two-day hike along a little-used trail takes us past isolated homesteads belonging to members of the Yi ethnic group, before we trek down to the valley and into the remarkable old Bai town of Shaxi: possibly the best-preserved example of a Tea and Horse Trail caravanserai in Yunnan.


We stay the next day in Shaxi to enjoy its lively market, when the Yi from the mountains come down to trade with the Bai of the valley. In the evening, we visit neighbouring Duanjiadeng for a fine dinner capped by a command performance of traditional music from the village’s old Bai musicians.


Cangshan Mule Team


Please write to info@redrocktrek.com to learn more