Waterfall, Jiuzhaigou National Park, China

This enthrallingly beautiful landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage site situated at the far north of Sichuan Province, and is a stunning area encompassing three valleys, covered with virgin broadleaf forest.

  

Rize Valley and Zechawa Valley converge into Shuzheng Valley, and all three are filled with spectacular scenic views. The area is particularly famed for the unbelievably bright colours of its waters. The forest itself is capable of imbuing truly wondrous hues during autumn, which adds another dimension to the already extraordinary light found here.

The most famous feature of Rize Valley is Arrow Bamboo Lake, the mirror-like surface of which provided one of the most visually stunning scenes in the film, Hero. Other beautiful sights in the valley are the Primeval Forest, Swan Lake, Grass Lake, Panda Lake, Five Flower Lake, Mirror Lake and the magnificent Pearl Shoal Waterfall.

Five Flower Lake, Jiuzhaigou National Park, China

 

Zechawa Valley’s main features are Long Lake, the impossibly spectacular colours of Five Colour Pond and the Seasonal Lakes, so named because they dry up during the summer months.

 

Following the confluence of Rize and Zechawa Valleys, Shuzheng Valley’s delightful main features are the amazing Nuorilang Waterfall, Shuzheng Waterfall, the Nuorilang and Shuzheng Ribbon Lakes, including Tiger Lake, Sparkling Lake, Sleeping Dragon Lake, Reed Lake and Rhinoceros Lake.

  

There are seven inhabited ethnic Tibetan villages in the area, the busiest of which is Shuzheng Village. Among the wildlife species are Snub-nosed Monkeys and Giant Pandas, though sightings are very rare.


Tibetan Village, Jiuzhaigou National Park, China


A little to the south of Jiuzhaigou, another UNESCO World Heritage landscape can be found at Huanglong National park, where you’ll find a long series of pretty, naturally occurring deeply coloured travertine terraced ponds.


calcite ponds, Huanglong National Park, China


Tumbling down the scenic wooded valley for some three and a half kilometres, the beautiful shallow cascades pass from the stepped curvature of successive white calcite ponds, which variously reflect bright hues of blue, green and yellow.


Beautiful coloured pools at Huanglong National Park, China

There are several other interesting geological sights within the national park, including hot springs.


Like Jiuzhaigou, the area is also a wildlife rich reserve for the Sichuan Golden snub-nosed monkey and Giant Panda. If you are travelling in Sichuan Province, however, the most certain way to see a Panda is further south in Sichuan province, at Chengdu.

 

CHENGDU GIANT PANDA BREEDING RESEARCH BASE


Giant Panda, Chengdu, China

 

The principal reason for most visitors to travel to Chengdu is to see the Giant Pandas. The purpose built 92 acre facility, with plans for a 500 acre extension as part of a release programme, is designed to replicate the Panda’s natural habitat. 

 

The viewing enclosures are large and well maintained and are home to over 50 of these delightful creatures. For an extra fee, visitors can have close contact with juvenile pandas for photographs.

 

LESHAN


The city of Leshan, situated in Sichuan Province to the south of Chengdu, is visited primarily for the impressive Grand Buddha figure, carved into the cliffside overlooking the Dadu River, also a UNESCO World Heritage site.

 

Leshan Giant Buddha, China
   

1,200 years old, the work was the brainchild of a Buddhist Monk, Haitong, in the belief that the peaceful countenance of the Buddha would act to tame the turbulent forces of the river below.


The figure is an impressive 71 metres (232 feet) tall, in the form of a sitting Buddha and stretches from its riverside plinth to the top of the cliff, its form recessed into the rock, where a stairway leads down from the cliff top to his enormous feet.


The World Heritage site also includes the sacred mountain of Emei Shan, one of China’s major pilgrimage mountains, which features an array of architecturally significant historical Buddhist temples and shrines, mostly from the Ming and Qing dynasties.


Emei Shan, China


There are several older temples, and indeed the first ever Buddhist temple in China was built here, though today the oldest remaining structure is that of Wannian Temple, rebuilt in the ninth century from the fourth century original.


Cable cars will happily ferry you to the scenic area to enjoy its beautiful lofty sights, where you can trek around various trails between its natural and man-made features.


The peak area covers a distance of fifty kilometres, and a longer stay for those wishing to fully explore is possible through a stay at one of the temples or guesthouses that are spread across the extensive upland landscape. 

 

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