I went with ASA to JZG + Huanglong + Mt EM in early Oct 2009, this agency not bad…at least for their itinerary & hotel choice.
However, it still depend on the tour group…good tour mates make good tour experience!
I wasn't into DSLR at that moment, but looking at your gear list, u will not have time to change gear & do setup in a packaged tour imo.
Tour pace in China is fast, faster, fastest! Hahaaaa…
Answering to your Qs:
1) Personally i won't bring this lens, 24-105 is good enough for panda. They are moving in fenced up area…not very big. Save the weight.
Was taking boat ride to see Leshan Buddha, so std zoom or wide angle will do, unless u wanna take a close-up of the Buddha details.
For those stage performance, i will still stick to 24-105. U can move nearer to stage if can't reach at max...
2) I'm pretty sure u won't have time to use. For me, i bring (other China tours) & leave it in luggage…use when have free own time at night.
If staying in InterContinental Jiuzhai Paradise Resort, this hotel have something to offer for photo, but don't have too high expectations for their rooms.
3) Internal bus from point to point only, at certain point, still need to trek up & down. Depend how yr tour guide brings u.
For Ermei, need climb half an hr, take cable car, then another 20 mins to golden summit. Back the same way. Beware of fierce monkeys.
I took cable car up Huanglong & trek down all the way…not easy as well cos JZG, Huanglong & Mt Ermei altitude highest at >3000m…down is siong, up is very siong!
(with my little compact…ok, me not fit…hahahaaa)
4) Ground conditions definitely better than Nepal, just pray it don't rain. Raining halfway at JZG for me and drizzling at Ermei.
Many steps, some no hand rails (back in 2009, now not sure). Tourists also many, some pushing may be unavoidable.
Dunno if it's yr 1st time in China, u need to "fight" or "push" for a place for photos. China culture huh! Gentleman is a no no...
5) No comments.
6) Make sure u go NuoRiLang Waterfall in JZG, cos my tour guide wanted to bring us shopping and wanted to skip it to save time. I asked to go. Die die must go... For the silky look water, unless ur really very fit and can setup with thunder speed, else no point bringing yr tripod which i know it's a pity.
Make sure u go up till 黄龙古寺, else no point gg. Sunblock & cap is a MUST there! UV super strong esp in noon at 3900m high. Our group was lucky to have enough time gg up there, Chan bro grp we met no time and they were disappointed. If u hv been to Nepal, guess u shld not have problems with high altitude, cos 1 aunty got giddy when up there…cmi then go back down. Huanglong provide free oxygen, if no problem here, then others are well. If u have motion sickness, pls bring medication cos road is bumpy up Huanglong and curvy bus route in JZG & can't rem for Ermei. May have shopping time at night in Chengdu (there's a shopping street nearby my hotel), can do night street photography then. If they propose optional for
fungus steamboat @ 钦善哉, go for it! Super delicious!!!
Last but not least, these are my experience at that time.
Please make yr own judgement ya! Enjoy yr trip!