Located in the mountains of southwestern China near the eastern border of Tibet, Chengdu is the capital city of China’s Sichuan province. This place is known for its spicy food and its Giant Panda breeding centers. We took an hour and a half flight to reach Chengdu from Shanghai.
Giant Panda Research Base
Chengdu has been the ancestral homeland to Giant Pandas since ancient times. Fossil records indicate pandas inhabited this area about 4000 years ago.
In order to rescue and protect the endangered giant panda species, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding was established in March 1987. It started with 6 giant pandas that were rescued from the wild. By 2008, it had 124 panda births, and now in 2017 it provides a habitat for around 2000 Giant Pandas. At elevations from 350m to 5600m above sea level, it is the only place with both wild and captive Giant Pandas in the world.
The facility provided an insight to how the pandas are bred and raised from birth. It is incredible to see how small the cubs are when they are first born compared to the full sized adults.
As they grow, the colors start to show and they begin to resemble their older counterparts.
These are the pandas raised in captivity and then later sent into the wild. Once the pandas reach a certain size, they are released into their natural mountain habitat. As you can see, they get quite massive.
This one was laughing at us the whole time!
After we saw the indoor breeding facility process, we headed outdoors to the wild nature reserve. When visiting this research center, I highly recommend checking it out early in the morning as the pandas are extremely active. Otherwise, it gets too hot and they become lazy. The habitat stretches across six mountains ranges and contains around 1500 pandas. The ones we saw were close to the research divider and were just recently released from captivity.
The pandas remind me of little kids playing in the trees, they are so happy and filled with incredible energy
Breakfast time! Munching on fresh bamboo
Such playful creatures, the left panda took bamboo from the right one and they wrestled over it.
Finally, they have eaten enough bamboo to their hearts content. Time to lay back and pass out…
During our time out on the reserve, we had the rare opportunity to witness a Red Panda in the wild. There are only very few of them left in the world! This one came in search of food close to the research center.
Red Pandas are fox-like in nature as they run through the forest at tremendous speeds
What an epic day! Seeing the pandas has been a goal of mine for many years and I finally had the chance to see these majestic creatures.
After our panda adventures, we ventured back to town in search of the best Sichuan cuisine we could find. We met up with some local friends and they took us to meet one of the most famous cooks in all of Chengdu. He cooked an incredible fish dish for us. By the end of the meal, my entire shirt was soaked in sweat because the food was so hot. Sichuan cuisine is by far my favorite in all of China!
For the next two days, I could not feel my mouth because of the spice. It was so addicting that we just kept eating more and more of this delicious fish
Chengdu was one of the most captivating places to visit in China. It had a similar layout to Shanghai with a river flowing through the center of the city. With a laid-back culture, wild cuisine, and majestic pandas, it is just another day at the office.
“If happiness is the goal – and it should be, then adventures should be top priority.” – Richard Branson
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