Once in a lifetime: How to track pandas in the wild

What you see in the shot here is a panda turd. And not just any panda turd, it’s a fresh panda turd. (Don’t worry. They smell like fresh bamboo.)

If you want the chance to find your own panda turds, there’s perhaps no better place than to trek to Wanglang Panda Reserve. That’s what I did last March, where I stopped as part of a big story for Science about the booming panda population. Unfortunately, the story is behind a subscription firewall, so here’s a shorter one I wrote about my trip for The Scientist.

Wanglang Panda Reserve can’t match its more famous big brothers, such as Wolong Panda Reserve, which NBC Nightly News, Animal Planet, etc love to cover. But that’s a great thing for you. Wanglang is very peaceful–chances are you’ll have the whole place to yourself. Their eco-tourism only recently kicked off, and even then, they rarely if ever receive any travelers from outside China.

To arrange your tour, you can try contacting the park directly, though I don’t believe any of the rangers or staffers speak English. Or you can go on one of the arranged tours, which will be more expensive of course. But it’s definitely an adventure to brag about once you get back. Worth every dollar!