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“Yes, it is risky and expensive, still I love it!”
Review of Songpan horse trek

Songpan horse trek
Reviewed 18 September 2011

If you need to get away from any comfort and civilization (and completely forget about your current problems), get covered with sweat, mud and be extremely tied by the end of the day, if you do not mind to eat simple local food without any white napkins, sparkling-clean forks and knifes and other fashion accessories, but be as happy as man could be and filling alive again - this is an attraction you should not miss!

1. If you have children with you: it's too risky, challenging and rather hard and not like a family safe ride on phlegmatic and sleepy ponies around the local park;
2. If you are not used to minimal physical exercise: the riding itself is rather tiresome, on the descents you'll be traveling on your feet (because down hills are steep and covered with loose soil and thus it is too dangerous to ride on horses) and this is not a light-tracking experience at all;
3. If you are a hygienic or healthy food maniac: you will not be able to eat anything and sleep in such uncomfortable conditions, and there is no water closet or shower facilities at hand in mountains;
4. If you are not prepared to sleep in the sleeping bag in not-all-new-completely-desinfected tent and are prone to catching cold: tents are old, and nights at height are icy cold even in August.
5. If you're not prepared to have typical rednecks for guides: they are brutal grumpy drunkards as boys from a very remote mountain village are supposed to be, but they are not fools and if you ask them some reasonable questions - you will receive all the necessary information and all needed care, believe me.

There were five of us in the group and we took two days ride up to Er Duo Hai Sanctuary from Songpan, and the ride was pleasant. The weather was very warm at the daytime, we have eaten tonnes of sweet wild strawberries when walking by feet. The guides are indeed a little bit brutal (and drunk by the night) but they are not bad-natured-tourists-hates at all. Just regard them with respect, do not be arrogant and boring, and everything will be fine. We willingly helped quides to pill of the potatoes for the meals and made a cup tea for everybody, and they have made a little show while preparing hand made noodles in return (it was quite amazing and interesting to look upon, I've even shot a small video).
We ride upon horses approximately 4 hours first day and 5 hours on the second, visited Er-Duo-Hai Sanctuary. I regard admission fee of 70 RMB to the Sanctuary as too expensive for the place and we were exhausted completely by the end of viewing it, but the colorful ponds of Sanctuary are nevertheless a beautiful site. The mountain views during tracking are breathtaking. In general I'm very glad to had this experience although it was a rather risky and extremal and tiresome adventure for me.

What you need to know if you do not want to spoil this adventure:
1. Tracking shoes and socks, long pants, warm sweater, rain proofed long jacket with a hood, wool gloves, eye glasses, hat and high-protection factor sunscreen are the absolutely must have things for the tracking regardless of the season;
2. Take your own sleeping bag and the termal-knit underware with you, put these into a backpack along with a large pack of wet napkins, high-protection factor sunscreen, some bandage, plaster and other necessary first-aid things, and at least two liters of water.
3. Take a water in a water flask that could be attached to your belt or any other gear at hand SECURELY during the ride. Even small bottles are very inconvenient, you will not be able to staff a bottle into your pocket securely and everything that falls out during the ride from your pocket can cause a horse to panic and that is exactly what you DO NOT WANT to experience.
4. Apply sunscreen before you mount to the horse, especially onto your face and back of the armpits. Prepare to be sunburned anyway :)
5. Ask you guides how to set your horse to move, how to turn, (the following is and extremely important point!) how to stop it and what exactly to do if your horse suddenly start galloping. Please always have in mind that horses are very strong and intelligent animals, the rider have to be on the alert and care of himself every single minute during his ride or any accident may happen.
6. Ask guides to adjust stapes after you have mounted. During the ride you have to have three points of support: stapes and saddle. If you lose any of this points you can fall out from the saddle, besides loosen stapes can hurt horse during the ride. Do not drop the reins any time you are upon the horse, to use reins is usually the only way or, at least, a major way to explain to the horse what you need from it. If you do not need to say to your horse any command at the moment, just lose the reins, but do not let them fall out from your hands. Do not shift too actively in the saddle during the ride - you can fall out or it can hurt horse back. If your horse sets to the fast trotting you should lift up in the stapes and balance holding yourself in the stapes and lean yourself against saddle fork or you will soon have a sore bottom and back. To balance like this is not an easy issue for a newbie, but tracking horses usually are rather lazy to trot a lot by their own will.
7. Be aware that your security and health is completely at your hands and always first think before you are up to make some silly joke or boasting. Think twice when you're upon a horse (poor animal may not have quite the same subtle sense of humor as you have).
8. If you have spotted something unusual in the horse's behavior, or got suddenly hurt, or fill uncomfortable, do not be ashamed to tell this to your guides immediately. They could be rednecks by nature but this does not mean that they will not pay attention to your words.
9. Very important: plan a full day of the rest and an hour massage session after the tracking, you'll be desperately need it!

I wish you a pleasant adventure in mountains.

11  Thank FengChe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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22 - 26 of 38 reviews

Reviewed 26 August 2011

songpan is known for the horse trekking. After visiting xiahe and langmusi we also visited songpan. The only thing you could do in songpan is the horse trekking. We've booked a trip for one day but finally we were already back beginning of the afternoon andvin total we sat 3 hours on a hourse.
It was even not save! It was very style and one of the horses started to run in panic and you may imagine what happened with more horses running in pannic. 3 people felt from there horses and one guy even had to go to the hospital.
The tibetan drivers drunk beer and the owner of the horse trek company was an arrogant guy. He was only interested in our money but safety and preparation are words not in his dictionnary.
We bought a whole day horse trek but finally we got a half-say unsafe horsetrek!
Not worthwile to visit songpan.

4  Thank philippe c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 25 July 2011

I went there because of the Lonely Planet recommandation. The latest book was talking about 150 kuai a day, even less according to the number of days you chose. In the end, it was 200 a day per person. Like someone else said before, there is not preparation but it's ok in a sense that the horses are all so used to carrying tourists around that you really don't need to know anything about them. Just climb on top of the whole package full of food and blankets (actually making the ride more confortable for your b###) and let the horse guide you.
There is some good things about this attraction : landscape is really nice, for sure, and in the early hours you get to see the mountain covered in fog, which is pleasant.
The guides are mostly grumpy though, not really people persons. Since we did talk a bit of chinese, we were able to communicate with them. To hear "finish your plates, it's really bad you didn't finish your potatoes and noodles, i bought it with my money, if you don't finish I am going to make you pay more for your waste!" Yes, we gave you 200 kuai and you offer us potatoes and bread. That's it. And you want us to pay you more. Ok...
>The worst part of the trip, was that we took the two days "hot spring" package.
So we left at 9:30 and arrived there at 12:00. Then, after lunch, they took us to the top of the hill to the "hot" springs. Which were cold. Like freezing cold. They left us there for the ENTIRE afternoon, doing nothing. Then dinner, and bed. (about that, prepare to sleep on the floor. it's dirty, it's really cold, you won't be able to shower, and you will basically not be able to sleep. I am not complaining about that part, i knew it in advance, and on the contrary, that's what makes it fun, and this is not a "4stars hotel" type of trip, but you might as well know it before enrolling for the 4 or 5 days trekk)
The next morning, they told us we had to leave quickly, because they wanted to be home by noon, to get ready for their next group. So, we paid for 2 days of horse trekk, and basically, we were on horse's backs for 6 hours total. We were bored an entire afternoon, and ended up back "home" before noon on the next day.
My horse got hurt during the trip, its back was bleeding due to the fact that the whole thing it was carrying was rubbing against it. They absolutely did nothing to treat it, and the next morning they just put everything on its back as it was.

In conclusion, I really think they are victims of their own success. They increased the prices because their little company was working fine, thanks to the travellers guides' recommanding them mostly, and the quality has, as a result, gone worse and worse.
If you are in the region and you have nothing better to do, well why not, maybe try another choice though, like the ice peak. The 2 days trekk is not worth it. And if you have better to do, just don't make the effort of going to songpan just for it. Plus Songpan itself is a really boring place to be actually.
To add something positive to this review, i'd say that still, it was nice for once to be able to walk in the mudd, and see the "real nature" in chinese mountains. With for once, not a billion of stairs and people in high heels around you ;)
PS : sorry for the mistakes, english is not my first language.

7  Thank fleurdelotus111
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 30 September 2010

My family joined the 3 days horse trekking in Songpan in 5 Sept 2010. We read about this through Lonely Planet and website and i even called up for more info. They were no safety preparation for us-forget about helmet. They don't even bother to ask whether we knew how to ride a horse. After going for few hours the guides asked us to get down and walked. The ground was muddy, slippery and horse dropping everywhere and I was not even in proper trekking shoes. The guides just went ahead and don't bother to wait up on us. The food that they served was real basic and thank God I brought some packets of foods. Then the worst part was sleeping in the small tent in freezing cold without any heat. I was wearing 5 layers of clothing and yet I couldn't sleep at all and kept checking at my watch to await daybreak.

8  Thank AnnKong
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 August 2017 via mobile
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Thank Anouschka M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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