One of the most amazing experiences in our lives, I have always loved Pandas and when my husband investigated the possibility of the opportunity to get up close and interact with them this was to be a complete dream come true.
Our first encounter was to visit the Chengdu Giant Panda Breeding Research Base, beautifully laid out amongst bamboo and trees, where we saw week old babies, through the ages to adult Pandas. The babies were so cute and tiny, we could only observe through the glass and had to keep walking slowly as understandably many other people wanted to see these little ones too. It was wonderful and so funny seeing the younger pandas playing and trying to climb trees, which they do not look designed to do and are incredibly clumsy at achieving! We also saw older pandas who after the age of 3 are solitary and fundamentally quite lazy, mainly eating and sleeping with the occasional stroll, but fascinating none the less.
Our guide was absolutely brilliant and had made a route plan to enable us to miss the majority of the queues or crowds, which made the whole experience much more enjoyable.
On the second day we visited the Dujiangyan Panda Base, which you can just walk around with a guide, however, we paid to be helpers, not very glamorous as you help to clean the outside enclosures and prepare the bamboo, the bonus is that we managed to feed a young panda approximately 3-5 years old through the bars of his inside enclosure, his paw was huge!!! We then had lunch and repeated the chores from the morning, brilliant team working and lots of laughter, including being able to feed a Panda at the end again. Finally, we were encouraged to make some special nutritional treats for the Pandas, which was good fun to do especially knowing how much they love them.
When we arrived, we were given the opportunity, for an additional fee, to actually sit next to a young Panda, approximately 2 years in age, obviously we jumped at this chance, what an experience!!! He was absolutely adorable, he sat chomping on a piece of bamboo whilst the small group systematically sat next to him, appearing to be completely not bothered in the slightest, the urge to cuddle was huge, but not wise, we were able to put an arm around him but nothing else, completely magical moments and a memory which will stay with us forever.
Mr & Mrs ‘C’