Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Jiuzhaigou Valley

The first couple of weeks of the year are usually spent planning and looking for new places to explore -- both within the country and on foreign lands.  This year, I will try to expand my horizons, more on the untouched and unspoiled places where I can learn more about the history, culture and the people.

With that in mind, I browsed the internet one morning and came across this..

Beautiful!  I was stunned by this photo.

Jiuzhaigou Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (category VII - Protected Landscape) is known for it's multi-level waterfalls and colorful lakes.  The place which literally means "Valley of Nine Villages" is located in the north of Sichuan, a province in South Western China.

The Lakes

The Pond

The Waterfalls

The Explanation

What makes Jiuzhaigou so unique? Most visitors would agree that a major draw is the beautiful color of the lakes and streams. This is caused by the high concentration of travertine, or calcium carbonate in the water. As Jiuzhaigou consists of temperate broad-leaf forest and woodlands, the trees take on a multi-color hue of yellow, orange and red during autumn, making it the prime travel period. In addition to the maple trees that provide a riot of autumn colors, Jiuzhaigou is also home to several varieties of rhododendron and bamboo endemic to the area. The wildlife includes the endangered giant panda and the golden snub-nosed monkey, both of which facing increasing pressure brought on by tourism. Approximately 140 species of birds are also found in Jiuzhaigou.

The turn-off

Jiuzhaigou is notoriously difficult to access by land. For most tourist, a trip to Jiuzhaigou means a 10 hour bus journey from Chengdu along the Minjiang River gorge, where rock slides and mudslides could delay the trip for several more hours. However, the road has become much less perilous than before, with the completion of a new highway.

Since 2003, travelers may also fly from Chengdu or Chongqing to the airport near Songpan County and then take a 2-hour bus ride to Jiuzhaigou or one hour to Huanglong. The Jiuzhaigou-Huanglong Airport (JZH) is served by flights by Air China, Sichuan Airlines, South China Airways and China Eastern. There is also a new helipad near the valley. Nevertheless, during the peak travel season of autumn, the airport is usually closed if there a slight chance of a blizzard. 

But looking at the photos somehow makes all the difficulties of getting there seem worth it.  Who wants to go?

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...