China Dinosaurs small group escorted palaeontology tours
During our small group Dinosaur Odyssey study program for couples and solo travellers, we will visit two of the most exciting dinosaur sites in China - Zigong Dinosaur Museum. Your program leader will take us to behind-the-scenes places, field studies in the Sichuan Province and Dinosaur Valley, and in the Yunnan Province. Go behind-the-scenes places, field studies at the dig sites, with first-hand experience at palaeontological dinosaur digs.
- 1. Encounter several World Heritage sites including the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian in Beijing and Dujiangyan Irrigation System.
- 2. See the Giant Panda Research Base and appreciate the famous Changing Face performance.
- 3. Visit the Dinosaur Valley in Lufeng with the largest concentration of dinosaur fossils and best conservation tour in the world.
- 4. Visit the Liaoning Museum of Paleontology, which houses extensive dinosaur specimens including the Anchiornis Huxleyi fossils.
|01 April 2023 |
Ends 12 April 2023 • 12 days
|05 October 2023 |
Ends 16 October 2023 • 12 days
|07 April 2024 |
Ends 19 April 2024 • 13 days
|04 October 2024 |
Ends 16 October 2024 • 13 days
Small Group Tours China Dinosaurs
Visit some of the most exciting archaeological sites on this 12-day China Dinosaurs small group tour. This program is limited to just 15 travellers, to ensure the best possible archaeological experience. The tour is designed for those with an interest in studying the earth’s palaeontological record in unique environments across rural China.
Palaeontologist Stephen Brusatte, in a 2018 interview with National Geographic, says “right now” is the golden age of discovery in dinosaur research, with experts finding about “50 new species a year”. This is attributed to how countries that were once closed to the world have now opened up and developed their own groups of homegrown palaeontologists and researchers. China, Brusatte says, “is the hot spot”. Cosmos magazine reports that 50 new feathered species of dinosaur have been discovered across China's large landmass since 1996. More fossils, dinosaur footprints, and dinosaur tracks continue to turn up. You can read more in our article on Dinosaurs and Dinosaur Fossils.
Small Group Tours China Dinosaurs Itinerary
The China Dinosaurs tour is based around four noteworthy archaeological sites. These are: Shenyang, Chengdu, Zigong, and Kunming. Highlights include exploring the Zigong Dinosaur Museum, one of the richest dinosaur fossil burial sites in China and one of the top three dinosaur museums in the world.
We visit the Paleontological Museum of Liaoning and the Beijing Museum of Natural History. The tour also includes a guided tour through the Lufeng Dinosaur Valley in the Yunnan Province, where we'll see the Lufengosaurus, a plant-eating sauropod, and other sauropod dinosaurs.
Our escorted educational travel program for seniors includes several World Heritage site visits. These include the Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian, the Jinsha Museum site, the Stone Forest near Kunming and the Panda Sanctuary. If you would like to learn more about China, visit our country profile where all other tour departures are listed as well
The China Dinosaurs program is part of a series of Dinosaur dig and archaeology tours offered by Odyssey Traveller. These programs are especially relevant for couples and single travellers interested in studying, learning about, and participating in the exciting world of archaeology.
For more details about this tour, click the ‘Top 5’ or ‘Itinerary’ buttons above! If you’re keen to experience this tour, please call or send an email. Or, to book, simply fill in the form on the right hand side of this page.
Day 1: Kunming
Accommodation: Green Lake Hotel or similar
We make our way individually to the hotel, before meeting in the evening for orientation and dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 2: Kunming
Accommodation: Green Lake Hotel or similar
This morning, we make our way to Chengjiang, an impressive pre-Cambrian fossil museum and the site of the Maotianshan Shales. These shales are an Early Cambrian deposit that are exquisitely preserved. They take their name from Maotianshan Hill in Chengian County.
Day 3: Kunming
Accommodation: Green Lake Hotel or similar
Today we visit Stone Forest, a notable set of limestone formations located in Shilin Yi Autonomous County, Yunnan Province. This is located approximately 120 kilometres from the provincial capital Kunming.
The rocks at Stone Forest seem to emanate from the ground in the manner of stalagmites, with many looking like petrified trees, thereby creating the illusion of a forest made of stone. These formations, caused by the dissolution of limestone, are believed to be over 270 million years old and are a popular attraction.
Since 2007, this site has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.We will then visit the nearby Jiuxiang Karst cave. This is an active cave and we will walk past many interesting formations. We then board our coach back to Kunming.
Lunch will be included today.
Day 4: Kunming/Lufeng/Chengdu
Accommodation: Tianfu Sunshine Hotel or similar
In the morning, we enjoy a guided tour of Lufeng Dinosaur Quarry, the site of numerous Jurassic dinosaurs’ discoveries, the first of which was in 1938. The most well-known is Lufengosaurus, a Jurassic prosauropod. More recently, teeth and a skull of Ramapithecus, a Miocene period primate related to the orangutan, have been found in Lufeng. This museum houses the most ancient and primitive vertebrate fossils as well as the largest amount of specimens in the world. Lufeng also boasts the largest concentration of dinosaur fossils as well as the best conservation program in the world. You will be able to watch and even assist in the preparation of fossilised bones.
Afterwards, we make our way to Kunming airport for a late afternoon flight to Chengdu.
Day 5: Chengdu
Accommodation: Tianfu Sunshine Hotel or similar.
After breakfast, we will travel to the Panda Reserve where research and breeding programs for these iconic animals are supported by the State.
Then we will travel to the Sanxingdui Museum. The museum sits on an archaeological site now recognized as among the most important in the world. With our informative program leader, we explore the many Bronze Age relics that were unearthed in the 1980s, when more than 1,000 bronze, gold and jade artifacts were discovered.
These archeological discoveries changed people’s understanding of ancient history and culture, as there was little to no previous knowledge of China’s Bronze Age.
Day 6: Chengdu - Zigong
Accommodation: Zigong Huidong Hotel or similar.
This morning we travel to the historic Dujiangyan Irrigation System, an irrigation infrastructure built in 256 BC during the Warring States Period of China by the Kingdom of Qin. Located on the Min River, it is still in use today and irrigates over 5,300 square kilometres of land in the region.
After lunch we travel to Zigong.
Day 7: Zigong - Chengdu
Accommodation: Tianfu Sunshine Hotel or similar
Today, we will enjoy a half day visit to the Zigong Dinosaur Museum, a large-scale local museum and one of the richest dinosaur fossil burial sites in China. Together with the American National Dinosaur Park and the Canadian Dinosaur Park, The Dinosaur Museum is known as one of top three dinosaur museums the world. It has also been named as one of “the forty best and most famous Chinese scenic tour sites” by the Chinese. After lunch, we return to Chengdu.
This evening’s dinner will be at your own arrangement at The Bookworm, Chengdu. Afterwards, we will enjoy an authentic Sichuan Cabaret which includes traditional folk art performances, including the fascinating “Face-Changing” show.
Day 8: Chengdu - Shenyang
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Hotel or similar
This morning, we will visit Jinsha Site Museum in Chengdu, a world-class museum which focuses on the ancient Shu culture. The site shares similarities in burial objects with the Sanxingdui site. Ivory, jade artifacts, bronze objects, gold objects, and carved stone objects were found at the site.
After lunch, we take a mid-afternoon flight to Shenyang.
Day 9: Shenyang
Accommodation: Holiday Inn Hotel or similar
Today we will enjoy a half day visit to Liaoning Museum of Paleontology. The 15,000-square metre museum, the largest so far in China, showcases over 10,000 collections of paleontological fossils and remains, in 16 exhibition areas. The museum houses extensive dinosaur specimens including the Anchiornis Huxleyi fossils which dates back to the late Jurassic period (Oxfordian age), 161.0–160.5 million years ago. Following the 1996 discovery of fuzzy Sinosauropteryx, feathered dinosaurs have been unearthed in Liaoning. This has rewritten what we thought we knew about dinosaurs. The magnificent “Liaoning Giant Dinosaur Hall” displays eight giant dinosaurs from Liaoning. Among them, the latest scientific achievement of the museum, the Liaoningotitan. At 15 metres long, it was recently shown to the public for the first time.
This afternoon we will visit to the former Imperial Palace, where the Manchu emperors stayed before moving to Beijing. The Shenyang Imperial Palace, one of the two best preserved imperial group-buildings in China, is located at Shenyang City, Liaoning Province. It enjoys equal popularity to the Forbidden City.
The Palace was built in 1625 when the Manchus declared Shenyang to be their capital. Famous for its strong characteristics of the Man nationality and its abundant cultural relics, the Shenyang Palace Museum now functions as a museum and exhibits a huge collection of ivory and jade art crafts, musical instruments, furniture, and Ming and Qing paintings
Day 10: Shenyang -Beijing
Accommodation: Presidential Hotel Beijing or similar
We travel this morning from Shenyang to Beijing, with an anticipated late morning arrival. We will make our way to Peking Man Site at Zhoukoudian. This is the site of the 1921 discovery of Peking Man (Sinanthropus pekinensis). The site is not only an exceptional reminder of the prehistorical human societies of the Asian continent, but also provides insights into the process of evolution.
Afterwards, we return to Beijing and check into our hotel.
Day 11: Beijing
Accommodation: Green Lake Hotel or similar.
After breakfast we will enjoy a guided tour of the Beijing Museum of Natural History. The museum has a large collection of dinosaur fossils and mounted skeletons. These include the cast skeletons of Gasosaurus, Mamenchiaurus, Psittacosaurus, Tsintaosaurus.
The “Dinosaur World” of the museum is divided into two parts, “Jurassic Park” and “Cretaceous Park”. The “Jurassic Park” recreates the ecology site of 140 million years ago. The Mamenxi dinosaur, Tuojiang dinosaur, Lufeng dinosaur, flesh-eating Yongchuan dinosaur, and Qi dinosaur all make an appearance.
The afternoon is free to explore Beijing.
We meet again in the evening for a farewell dinner at a Beijing duck restaurant.
Day 12: Beijing
Our tour concludes after breakfast.
- Group size is limited to a maximum of 15 participants.
Includes / Excludes
What’s included in our Tour
- 11 breakfasts, 6 lunches, and 7 dinners.
- English speaking local guides in each city.
- Services of specialist tour leader for the duration of the tour.
- All field trips and associated entry fees as per the itinerary.
- High speed train ticket from Shenyang to Beijing.
- All travel in modern, air conditioned coaches.
- Gratuities and necessary tips.
- Economy flights from Kunming to Chengdu & Chengdu to Shenyang.
What’s not included in our Tour
- Comprehensive travel insurance.
- International airfares and taxes.
- Additional sightseeing, entrance fees, and meals not stated in the itinerary.
- Bottled water and drinks.
- Items of a personal nature such as telephone calls and laundry.
Participants must be able to carry their own luggage, climb and descend stairs, moderate walking on uneven surfaces between 3 - 5 kilometers per day. Suitable for most fitness levels
Make it a private tour
Easing your journey
Crossing international borders with restrictions
The list of requirements to travel internationally has changed and will continue to change for several years. Odyssey is here to assist you in managing your way through these requirements:
For more information see our Crossing international borders with restrictions page.
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If less than 30 days before your tour starts you are unable to travel as a result of Government travel restrictions, Odyssey Traveller will assist you with a date change, provide you with a credit or process a refund for your booking less any non-recoverable costs.
See Terms and conditions for details.
Peace of Mind Travel
The safety of our travellers, tour leader, local guide and support staff has always been our top priority and with the new guidelines for public health and safety for keeping safe for destinations around the world, we’ve developed our plan to give you peace of mind when travelling with us.
See Peace of Mind Travel for details.
Reading List Download PDF
The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: The Untold Story of a Lost World
66 million years ago the dinosaurs were wiped from the face of the earth. Today, Dr. Steve Brusatte, one of the leading scientists of a new generation of dinosaur hunters, armed with cutting edge technology, is piecing together the complete story of how the dinosaurs ruled the earth for 150 million years.
The world of the dinosaurs has fascinated on book and screen for decades – from early science fiction classics like The Lost World, to Godzilla terrorizing the streets of Tokyo, and the monsters of Jurassic Park. But what if we got it wrong? In The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs, top dinosaur expert Brusatte, tells the real story of how dinosaurs rose to dominate the planet. Using the fossil clues that have been gathered using state of the art technology, Brusatte follows these magnificent creatures from their beginnings in the Early Triassic period, through the Jurassic period to their final days in the Cretaceous and the legacy that they left behind.
Along the way, Brusatte introduces us to modern day dinosaur hunters and gives an insight into what it’s like to be a paleontologist. The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is full of thrilling accounts of some of his personal discoveries, including primitive human-sized tyrannosaurs, monstrous carnivores even larger than T. rex, and feathered raptor dinosaurs preserved in lava from China.
At a time when Homo sapiens has existed for less than 200,000 years and we are already talking about planetary extinction, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs is a timely reminder of what humans can learn from the magnificent creatures who ruled the earth before us.
By Steve Brusatte
Weird Dinosaurs: The Strange New Fossils Challenging Everything We Thought We Knew
From the outback of Australia to the Gobi Desert of Mongolia and the savanna of Madagascar, award-winning science writer and dinosaur enthusiast John Pickrell embarks on a world tour of new finds, meeting the fossil hunters working at the frontier of discovery. He reveals the dwarf dinosaurs unearthed by an eccentric Transylvanian baron; an aquatic, crocodile-snouted carnivore bigger than T. Rex, which once lurked in North African waterways; a Chinese dinosaur with wings like a bat; and a Patagonian sauropod so enormous it weighed more than two commercial jet airliners.
Other surprising discoveries hail from Alaska, Siberia, Canada, Burma, and South Africa. Why did dinosaurs grow so huge? How did they spread across the world? Did they all have feathers? What do sauropods have in common with 1950s vacuum cleaners? The stuff of adventure movies and scientific revolutions, Weird Dinosaurs examines the latest breakthroughs and new technologies radically transforming our understanding of the distant past. Pickrell opens a vivid portal to a brand new age of fossil discovery, in which fossil hunters are routinely redefining what we know and how we think about prehistory’s most iconic and fascinating creatures.
By John Pickrell
Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs: The Thrilling Account of One of the Largest Dinosaur Expeditions of the 20th Century by the Expedition Leader
In 1993, an international team of paleontologists from the American Museum of Natural History and the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, in the fourth year of a multiyear expedition, made one of the most miraculous fossil discoveries in history. They unearthed a treasure trove of Cretaceous dinosaurs and mammals, including several new species, that has already helped to reshape our understanding of the dinosaur age. In Dinosaurs of the Flaming Cliffs, team leader Michael Novacek, Provost of Science of the American Museum of Natural History and Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology, re-creates the day-to-day drama of field exploration over the past six years in the Gobi and recounts his and his colleagues' historic discoveries, reported in front-page headlines across the world. In a remarkable narrative that interweaves expedition chapters with in-depth scientific discussions on the nature and importance of the fossil record, Novacek takes us on a journey that explores the very nature of scientific inquiry and dinosaur research.
By Michael Novacek
Birds of Stone: Chinese Avian Fossils from the Age of Dinosaurs
When fossils of birds from China’s Jehol region first appeared in scientific circles, the world took notice. These Mesozoic masterpieces are between 120 and 131 million years old and reveal incredible details that capture the diversity of ancient bird life. Paleontologists all over the world began to collaborate with Chinese colleagues as new and wondrous fossil-related discoveries became regular events. The pages of National Geographic and major scientific journals described the intricate views of feathers as well as food still visible in the guts of these ancient birds. Now, for the first time, a sweeping collection of the most interesting of Jehol’s avian fossils is on display in this beautiful book.
Birds of Stone makes visible the unexpected avian diversity that blanketed the earth just a short time (geologically speaking) after a dinosaur lineage gave rise to the first birds. Our visual journey through these fossils is guided by Luis M. Chiappe, a world expert on early birds, and Meng Qingjin, a leading figure in China's natural history museum community. Together, they help us understand the "meaning" of each fossil by providing straightforward narratives that accompany the full-page photographs of the Jehol discoveries.
Anyone interested in the history of life―from paleontologists to inquisitive birders―will find Birds of Stone an irresistible feast for the eyes and mind.
By Luis M. Chiappe
Unearthing the Dragon: The Great Feathered Dinosaur Discovery
Norell, head paleontologist at the American Museum of Natural History, recounts not only the first discovery of feathered dinosaurs in 1996, but also the impact that discovery has had on the field of paleontology and on popular culture about dinosaurs since then, particularly by dissolving the distinction between them and birds. Ellison, principal artist in the Museum's Division of Paleontology, contributes photographs of fossils and sites, but also of modern Chinese life--especially food--and drawings.
By Mark A. Norell
Pterosaurs: Natural History, Evolution, Anatomy
For 150 million years, the skies didn't belong to birds--they belonged to the pterosaurs. These flying reptiles, which include the pterodactyls, shared the world with the nonavian dinosaurs until their extinction 65 million years ago. Some pterosaurs, such as the giant azhdarchids, were the largest flying animals of all time, with wingspans exceeding thirty feet and standing heights comparable to modern giraffes. This richly illustrated book takes an unprecedented look at these astonishing creatures, presenting the latest findings on their anatomy, ecology, and extinction. Pterosaurs features some 200 stunning illustrations, including original paintings by Mark Witton and photos of rarely seen fossils. After decades of mystery, paleontologists have finally begun to understand how pterosaurs are related to other reptiles, how they functioned as living animals, and, despite dwarfing all other flying animals, how they managed to become airborne. Here you can explore the fossil evidence of pterosaur behavior and ecology, learn about the skeletal and soft-tissue anatomy of pterosaurs, and consider the newest theories about their cryptic origins. This one-of-a-kind book covers the discovery history, paleobiogeography, anatomy, and behaviors of more than 130 species of pterosaur, and also discusses their demise at the end of the Mesozoic. * The most comprehensive book on pterosaurs ever published * Features some 200 illustrations, including original paintings by the author * Covers every known species and major group of pterosaurs * Describes pterosaur anatomy, ecology, behaviors, diversity, and more * Encourages further study with 500 references to primary pterosaur literature
By Mark Whitton
Dinosaurs: How They Lived and Evolved
From the Victorian golden age of dinosaur discovery to the cutting edge of twenty-first century fossil forensics 'Dinosaurs' unravels the mysteries of the most spectacular group of animals our planet has ever seen. Despite facing drastic climatic conditions including violent volcanic activity, searing temperatures and rising and plunging sea levels, the dinosaurs formed an evolutionary dynasty that ruled the Earth for more than 150 million years. Darren Naish and Paul Barrett reveal the latest scientific findings about dinosaur anatomy, behaviour, and evolution. They also demonstrate how dinosaurs survived the great extinction at the end of the Cretaceous Period and continued to evolve and thrive alongside us, existing today as an incredibly diverse array of birds that are the direct descendants of theropods. 'Dinosaurs' is lavishly illustrated with specimens from the Natural History Museum's own collections, along with explanatory diagrams and charts and full-colour artistic reconstructions of dinosaur behaviour.
By Darren Naish