Last week, Shanghua Zhang, one of the 2012 WildChina Explorer Grant winners, began his trek in the Garze Tibetan autonomous prefecture. Along his journey, he will spend time in The Chaqingsongduo Nature Reserve which houses two-thirds of the world’s population of white-lipped deer or Thorold’s deer, the second largest glacier in the prefecture, and the sources of numerous streams and rivers, and the peak of the mighty Mount Gongga.
WildChina spoke with him days before his trip to learn more about how he was preparing for his travels.
WildChina Travel (WCT): How have you been preparing for your adventure?
Shanghua Zhang (SZ): First things first, travel insurance! As I am traveling for 30 days, travel insurance is important. In addition, I also purchased an SLR camera so I will leave the trip with memorable photos. Of course, since the camera is relatively heavy, I may not always have the engery to take photos!
Additionally, I have extensively researched my route, looking at online information and speaking with local contacts. There has not been a huge amount that I have found online– this area is quite remote– but I always have the attitude that I can figure it out as long as I have the right clothing and enough food.
WCT: What are you most looking forward to seeing?
SZ: During the trip, I am most looking forward to seeing is to see the wild white-lipped deer. They are exceptionally hard to find and a real national treasure– only a few thousand survive, even in the Tibetan areas.
WCT: Is there one item that you cannot travel without?
SZ: Of course. I always carry a local handmade knife that I received as a present several years ago. I now collect traditional knives when I travel– I find them beautiful.