Experience Fund – Wilderness Renewal

Adventure, Refreshment, Reflection… In the Wilderness

Led by experienced wilderness guides, Journey’s Wilderness Renewal Backpacking trips are designed to encourage, support and renew expatriates living in Asia. If you’re looking for a more refreshing vacation this year that provides space for renewal, reflection, and adventure in a pristine natural environment, then this trip is for you.

Join us this summer on one of our professionally guided and managed trips for an adventure unlike any other in China. At JWA, we know firsthand the struggles expats face in Asia. For that reason, we offer extended wilderness trips that remove our participants from the distractions and commotion of everyday life in order to quiet the mind and revive the spirit. These fun, exciting, and safe trips will take you into remote places of jaw-dropping, natural beauty where you can enjoy solitude, develop friendships, and leave feeling refreshed.

After transit to your trips arrival city, you will spend 8 days, 7 nights backpacking through some of China’s more beautiful and pristine wilderness areas.  Your backpacking trip will take you through one of JWA’s breathtaking wilderness environments.  These seldom-traveled areas are some of the most breathtaking mountains in the world and could easily be mistaken for the Swiss Alps. On your trip, you’ll travel through untouched high mountain meadows, spruce-fir forests, waterfalls, rivers, and alpine lakes. As you experience one of China’s few remaining unspoiled wilderness areas, you will practice a variety of wilderness skills such as navigation, back-country cooking, camp-site management, safe travel techniques, Leave No Trace environmental ethics, and leadership.

These trips are designed for adults ages 18-80. Previous backpacking experience is not required; simply come prepared for a refreshing and adventurous experience. Experience Fund trips have a limited number of spaces available and are open to successful applicants only. To apply for the trip of a lifetime, click on the “Application Form” tab.

AGE:

18 years and up

THIS YEAR’S ADULT RENEWAL TRIP DATES:

Xinjiang, Urumqi: June 26-July 5 and July 10-19

*Email us to arrange additional dates

RESERVED GROUP TRIPS:

JWA offers private groups, businesses, and families the ability to reserve a trip for their participants. If you’re interested in booking one of our professionally managed adventures, please contact us at groups@jwatrips.com.

ARRIVAL & DEPARTURE LOCATIONS:

Urumqi, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, China.

REGISTRATION INFORMATION:

Trip Price: 6,200 RMB (Experience Fund subsidized price)
Deposit: A non-refundable 2,000 RMB deposit is due at registration.
Balance: Your balance must be paid in full 60 days before the start date of your trip.
Forms: All JWA medical and information forms are due *no later than 30 days after you register.
Application: Please click on the “Application Form” tab to apply.  We will notify all applicants by May 15 regarding this summer’s availability.
Scholarships: if you’re interested in applying for additional scholarship support, please fill out our scholarship application.
*Space is limited and priority will be given to those who have registered and returned their completed forms.

WHAT WE PROVIDE:

Upon your arrival to Urumqi, Xinjiang, your JWA trip includes all transportation, lodging, food, and equipment during your ten day journey.  Our industry leading backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, cooking supplies, water filtration equipment, and light weight tents help to make your trip more enjoyable.  On the trail, we supply high-quality (primarily imported) backcountry food that will keep you happy and healthy on the trail.

WHAT YOU PROVIDE:

You’ll need to prepare all personal clothing as well as a few small personal items that are necessary for your trip. Once you register you’ll receive our “personal equipment and clothing list” to help you prepare for your upcoming trip.
Participants are also responsible for their travel to and from the start city of their trip. If you’d like our help in booking your travel, please contact our travel agent.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

How should I prepare physically for the trip?

In order to safely enjoy your trip, we ask each participant to run 30-45 minutes, three to four times a week for the month leading up to the trip (this is the minimum recommended time).  Additionally, as you will be carrying a backpack weighing between 35-45 pounds up and down steep terrain, walking up stairs can help to prepare you for your trip.  Adding sit-ups, push-ups, and stretching to your exercise routine will help to reduce injury and add to your enjoyment while on the trip.  In the past, participants who have followed our recommended exercise program have been strong contributors to their team and have been able to enjoy the backpacking experience. 


How strenuous will the trail be?

On average, we will be hiking between four and eight hours each day.  We have a rest day on day four, on which we will not hike, and on day 5, we will take a less strenuous day hike, for which we will not be carrying our backpacks.  We will set up a base-camp on night three, where we will sleep for three nights.  Our longest day on the trail requires about 10 kilometers of hiking, and our shortest day on the trail involves 3.5 kilometers, but both length and duration of hiking vary depending on trip choice and location.  We understand that many people who come on these trips are not experienced hikers or backpackers but rather people that simply want to get out into nature and be refreshed.  For that reason, we attempt to take our time on the trail and provide space for rest.  The purpose of the hiking is to access some of the most pristine and remote wilderness areas in China and the world.   To date, we’ve had participants as young as 13 and as old as 62 participate in our trips.  Following our preparation instructions should prepare you to have an enjoyable experience with your group on the trail.


What is the basic itinerary for the summer backpacking trips?

(Itinerary can vary based on the number of people and fitness level of each group)
Day 1 – Fly or train to the start city of your trip. Arrive by 12:00pm. Meet JWA staff. Have lunch. Drive to hotel, unpack, and rest before dinner.  At dinner, brief with guides and other participants, pack gear, and sleep in hotel.
Day 2 – Wake up and travel by van to the trailhead.  Begin hiking.  Sleep at camp 1. A typical days hike is between 4 and 8 hours, depending on terrain and purpose of the trip.
Day 3 – Hike to camp 2
Day 4 – Hike to camp 3
Day 5 – Solo day (day of solitude and rest) (sleep at camp 3)
Day 6 – Day hike (sleep at camp 3)
Day 7 – Hike to camp 4
Day 8 – Hike to camp 5
Day 9 – Short hike to trailhead to meet van. Return to city to have lunch then clean and check-in gear. Drive to hotel. Nice, local dinner together. Sleep in hotel.
Day 10 – Eat breakfast and lunch together at expat restaurants. Sightseeing options are available.  Fly/train home–we recommend that participants plan to depart between 3-7pm so you can enjoy the final day together with your group.


What does JWA provide? What equipment should I bring?

JWA will provide you with all the necessary backpacking equipment for your trip: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, tent, backpack, emergency whistle, compass, maps, bowl, spoon, all meals and snacks, food bags, cooking utensils, stoves, Nalgene water bottles–(backpacking trips only)–journal, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wet wipes, trowel, Ziploc baggy.

You are responsible for all the clothing you need as well as personal toiletries like sunscreen, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, and feminine supplies. Furthermore, you will need to bring a headlamp, pen, and anything else you might want like a bandana, chapstick etc. We will provide you with a detailed clothing document upon your registration.


How will I stay clean on the trail?

Although you won’t be taking a shower on the trail, you will at times, have the opportunity to rinse away dirt in a nice mountain stream.
Due to our appreciation for the beautiful natural areas that we travel through, we are committed to have a minimal level of environmental impact. That is why we train each of our participants in the Leave No Trace environmental ethic, so that each subsequent group that travels down our trails will have the same unforgettable experience.

Soap and Shampoo – using soap outdoors is difficult because most soaps contain phosphates, which stimulate the growth of algae in water and subsequently cause an imbalance in the ecosystem.  Therefore, soap should never be used directly in any of the natural water sources we encounter.  Only phosphate-free and biodegradable soaps should be used in the wilderness. Your guides will carry some of this soap with them for use on the trail.  Even “biodegradable” soaps have an impact on the pristine wilderness environments we travel through, so we use them sparingly.

We will teach you many ways in which you can stay happy and clean on the trail, while allowing each subsequent group that follows to have the same memorable experience.


What toiletry articles do I need to bring?  What will JWA provide?

JWA will provide toilet paper and hand sanitizer as well as a small Ziploc bag for toilet trash.  You should pack your own toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, comb, sunscreen, chapstick, and pads/tampons.  Women expecting their period should come prepared with appropriate materials to pack out their supplies (see section below on periods).

You will be able to leave other toiletries such as shampoo, conditioner, and a razor in a separate bag for after the backpacking portion of the trip.


What should I be prepared for with regards to using the “restroom” in the woods?

Pooping and peeing in the woods can be challenging at times, but it’s something everyone on the trip is dealing with, so there is no need to be embarrassed.  The JWA staff will go over this in detail with you before and during your trip, but here’s a little sneak-preview of the human waste disposal talk: We will be using a trowel for digging-and-burying excrement.  Toilet paper should be used sparingly and must be packed out with you in the Ziploc baggy that JWA provides.  You can also try using natural materials like fallen leaves (which should be carefully identified first) as toilet paper.

The truth is that using the restroom in the woods is not as complicated or difficult as many people expect. By day one or two you’ll be such a natural you may never wish to use an indoor public restroom again…


What if I get my period while on the trip?

Both women and men should be comfortable talking about menstruation in the wilderness.  For women who have not been in the backcountry before, the physical exertion as well as altitude of the trip can cause their period to start early or to not occur at all.  This is not uncommon or dangerous, but you should be mentally prepared that your menstrual cycle might be affected on the trip.

Women can use both tampons and pads in the backcountry.  Some women prefer using tampons since they can be more comfortable for exercise.  To avoid infections, only use tampons with applicators; tampons without applicators require extremely clean hands for insertion and are not recommended in the backcountry unless you can ensure that your hands are clean.  It’s also recommended to use pads while sleeping in addition to the tampon.  This can safe-guard again unwanted stains on sleeping bags.

All tampons, pads, and toilettes should be packed out.  Do not bury feminine hygiene products as they do not decompose, and animals may be attracted to them.  Waste should be packed out in one or two plastic Ziploc bags, which can be covered with duct-tape.  A crushed aspirin, wet tea bag, or baking soda placed inside the bag will minimize the odor from soiled tampons and pads.  Additionally, a small piece of aluminum foil can be wrapped around the tampon or pad before placing it in the bag.  At night the bag must be placed out of reach from animals, just as the food is stored.

*All women should be sure to bring a “menstruation kit” with them made up of the above supplies in case of an unexpected period while on the trail.


How much will my travel to and from the trips start/end location cost?

Flight prices to/from these cities vary based on the city from which you’re departing and the time of year you are traveling. Generally, during earlier summer months like May and June, flights to/from Urumqi/Qinghai are less expensive while the months of July and August typically cost more. One way to reduce your transportation cost is to travel by train.  Helpful sights for comparing airline costs include elong.net and kayak.com.


If I want to travel after my trip, where can I go?

Feel free to explore other locations after your trip, however, JWA cannot coordinate this part of your trip for you. We have found that once the list of trip participants has been finalized that some participants may communicate with one another in order to travel together before or after the trip.  Some helpful places to look for travel information include lonelyplanet.com and tripadvisor.com. Some travel restrictions apply in border areas both in XJ and QH.


Do I need a visa to travel to Xinjiang Province or Qinghai Province?

No, you do not need a new visa, only your passport with Chinese visa. If of course, you choose to travel onto Tibet, Kazakhstan, or Pakistan, etc. after your JWA trip ends, you will need corresponding visas to these countries/territories.


How much money should I bring on my trip?

Once you arrive at your trips departure city (Beijing/Urumqi/Xining/Etc), all of your transportation, lodging, equipment, and food will be covered through lunch on the final day of your trip. You will not need money at any point on the trail. On the final day, many participants often like visiting local markets, so if you would like to shop, consider bringing some spending money for souvenirs. Prices are comparable to markets around China and vary based on your ability to haggle J.


How many nights will I be staying in a hotel? Do I have to pay for this myself?

You will spend two nights in hotels.  Your JWA trip payment covers this cost.


What happens if there is a medical emergency on the trip?

At least one JWA staff on every trip is Wilderness First Responder first aid certified.  This is a first aid certification specifically designed to train wilderness guides in remote medicine.  Our guides have their up-to-date certification in this industry leading wilderness medical certification and are prepared to respond to medical emergencies that typically arise in the backcountry. In the event that support is needed, JWA guides have satellite communication devices on hand to notify our support staff.


Are there wild animals where I will be hiking?:

In every wild and natural place on the planet there are animals; however, in China because of the amount of people and the amount of hunting and farming, those animals are far less common than in other parts of the world.  In the areas in which we travel, there are several types of wild animals that we could come across, but in my experience, I have only ever seen sheep, goats, yaks, Tibetan antelopes, cows, deer, marmot, domesticated dogs, horse and eagles while on the trail.  In regards to the more dangerous animals such as bear, boar, and wolves that can be found in the wilderness, here are a few things to know.  We currently do not travel in the Altai mountains where the Grizzly bear live (those are a much more dangerous species of bear) instead we travel in mountains where the black bear can be found.  I have never seen a bear or their droppings nor have any other guides on our trips.  Boar – wild boar do live in the Tian Shan, but they are nocturnal, have a very good sense of smell, and do not like people.  We have had no trouble with these animals and have never seen them while hiking on the trail.  Wolves – the Tian Shan have nomadic Kazakh people who live in the high mountain meadows in the summer where their goats and sheep can graze. When we have spoken to the local Kazakh people, they say that they rarely see wolves, but when they do they are more concerned for their animals than for themselves.  They have never reported any danger to people; instead there is a potential problem of them eating their sheep.