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If You Were Given USD$5000, Where in China Would You Explore?

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Get to know the history and past winners of the WildChina Explorer Grant and whet your appetite for this year’s search.

The WildChina Explorer Grant was established in 2011 to enable dreamers and explorers to pursue the life-changing experiences that will make them pioneers in their fields – promoting the importance of sustainable travel and highlighting culturally significant issues along the way.  Through the grant we hope to find adventurers who aspire to make an impact through exploration. Explorers who will join us in breaking new frontiers, and who dare to challenge the unknown.

Since its creation, the WildChina Explorer Grant has helped fund some extraordinary projects and we are excited to announce that the search for the WildChina Explorer 2017 is about to begin. To help get your wanderlust juices flowing, here’s a look at the expeditions taken by our previous grantees.

2016 Winner: Dongrui Yu


For the past 4 years Dongrui has been on a quest to promote the importance of preserving China’s starry night sky. His project, Finding Our Lost Stars, was selected as the winner of the WildChina Explorer Grant 2016 by a panel of esteemed judges including Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler, China’s pioneering wildlife photographer Xi Zhinong, COO of China’s no. 1 travel community website Jinghui Cai, 2014 WildChina Explorer Ricky Qi and WildChina founder Mei Zhang.

Dongrui’s collaboration with WildChina took him back to where his passion to protect the night sky began – his home province of Yunnan. He traveled through the region and captured around 10,000 photos and multiple time-lapse videos to create a star map of the province. The trip doesn’t only promote awareness of his cause but will also become an important part of his bigger plan – to find the perfect location for a dark sky reserve in Yunnan.

2014 Winner: Ricky Qi


For the past three years, Ricky has been producing and directing a feature-length documentary about the Mosuo people, China’s last matriarchal society. Hovering between the borders of Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, his pioneering project took him on a month-long trek via horse caravan to some of the most remote and least documented places in the lower Himalayas. Get to know Ricky Qi and why we chose him to be our WildChina Explorer in 2014 in our blog post: Winner of the WildChina Explorer Grant – Ricky Qi.

2013 Winner: Heli


Heli’s expedition into the remote wilderness of Xinjiang in search of the Tianshan Snow Lotus pushed the boundaries of Chinese exploration in its examination of the beauty and fragility of the region’s natural environment. Find our how this botanist turned into an explorer in our interview with him.

2012 Winner: William Bleisch


William Bleisch ventured to Yunnan’s Ailaoshan Provincial Nature Reserve with an aim to establish a new trekking route along the ridge-line of the Ailao Mountains. The route would connect existing gibbon habitats and help preserve the species. Bleisch provided us with a blog post about a hair-raising first hand account of his trek.

2012 Winner: Zhang Shanghua


Backpacking through remote Ganzi Prefecture in Sichuan, Shanghua Zhang was welcomed into local homes. He gained access to communities of monks and was invited to attend prayers at the revered Yaqing Monastery. Learn how Shanghua Zhang prepares for his expeditions (among other insider advice) by reading this interview he did with us.

2011 Winner: Jeff Fuchs


Together with British endurance athlete Michael Kleinwort, Jeff traveled on foot along the most isolated and little-known stretch of the salt trading route in Qinghai and  documented the stories of the elderly, nomadic traders. Jeff Fuchs’ trek was turned into an expert-led journey, Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road with Jeff Fuchs.

Do you want to follow in the footsteps of these explorers? Check out our new and improved WildChina Explorer Grant Website and be the first to hear how to become the 2018 WildChina Explorer by signing up for our WildChina Newsletter.