Tips for Once You’re "On the Ground"
Above all else, we want to encourage you to come see us if you are in Dali, regardless of whether you intend to trek with us or not. We would love to share our experiences with you and provide you with a few helpful hints for trekking in this region of which we are so fond.
That said, we are obviously not the only resource available to you once you arrive. In Dali, you can go see the owner of the restaurant Seeds (located in the pedestrian street RenMin Lu), who can give you some suggestions (as well as lodging and a good meal!). In ZhongDian (a.k.a. Shangri-La), stop by the Harmony Guesthouse in the old town – the owner, a photographer, should be able to pass on a few tips (primarily in Mandarin). Be wary of certain recommendations (travel guides) that boast about the skills and knowledge of certain individuals; before establishing itself in Dali, the Amiwa team learned this lesson the hard way. We won’t name any names, but we will encourage you to cast a critical eye on any advice you read or are told (including ours!).

Adjust to the Altitude
Just as in deep-sea diving, the golden rule in the mountains (especially at very high altitudes – though Amiwa does not do this kind of trekking,  we leave the glaciers and other snowy adventures to the mountaineers) is to progress slowly, in stages. The Yunnan-Guizhou plateau lies approximately 2000 metres above sea level (at the same altitude as KunMing or Dali). If, for instance, you are arriving from England or one of China’s coastal regions (Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong, etc.), which lie nearly at sea level, we strongly recommend that you take it easy for at least one day and one night and spend this time doing some cultural sightseeing before attacking the northern face of the peak you’ve been dreaming about for six months...

Some agencies and tour operators will offer to take you directly to ZhongDian (3300 metres) or to the Everest base camp (over 5000 metres) via Lhasa directly from Beijing or Shanghai: prepare for headaches, nausea and other potential complications (some of which are fatal)!!  Adjusting to higher altitudes is a relatively simply thing if you give yourself what you need; in other words, give yourself time!

Contrary to certain accepted ideas, there is no change in the concentration of oxygen in the air at higher altitudes (it is always 21%); it is, in fact, the atmospheric pressure that changes the higher you go (basically the weight of the column of air above your head), which, in turn, decreases the external pressure on the alveoli in your lungs. The higher you climb above sea level, the harder it becomes to breathe because you are forced to exert greater energy in order to inhale the same amount of oxygen. After a few days (roughly six at altitudes above 3000 metres), the concentration of red blood cells increases, making it easier for your body to transport oxygen through your circulatory system. Without going into the details of hypoxia or hypobaria, let us stick with the essentials: drink lots of water and, we repeat, give yourself time!! We second the advice of Dr. Vertical (the Mountain Medicine Handbook by Dr. Cauchy in the section Before Leaving Home).

Higherland Inn, trek, Dali, Yunnan, Chine