Jiuzhaigou Valley is an unusually beautiful place on the eastern edge of the Tibetan Plateau. Nature has done authentic miracles from water and limestone, algae and bacteria, has decorated its creation with mosses, lichens and many hundreds of plants in captivating abundance and splendor. As a rule, under the valley of Jiuzhaigou, two reserves are meant at once – Jiuzhaigou itself and Hualong reserve. In turn, Jiuzhaigou consists of three more smaller valleys.
How to get there
Excursions to the surrounding places
While the small Huanglong Valley can be walked one morning or one evening, the vast valleys of Jiuzhaigou will need at least one day, and then if you decide to walk less with your feet and take a bigger bus ride. If you want to avoid large crowds, it is better to walk a lot – then it will take at least two days, and only then you will get real pleasure from the local beauties.
Since 1992, the Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong valleys are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. They border each other and it is better to look at them together – however, to get from one place to another, you need to make a path 120 km long. This is not much if you consider that it takes a whole day to travel here from Chengdu, plus more, unless you choose an air flight, you will need an overnight stay.
The name of the reserve Huanglong translated from Chinese means Yellow Dragon. Of the 700 square meters. km you can inspect only a small part. The main feature of these places is amazing travertine (of limestone tuff) landscapes, including numerous lakes, water, springs, rapids, caves. Small lakes are painted with algae and bacteria in a variety of colors. The higher you go, the more varied the play of colors, in which the sky, clouds, and foliage reflected on the surface of the water contribute. The landscape complements the view of the “Top of the Snow Treasures” (Xuebao Ding), which sparkles in the direction of the visual axis of the valley with its eternal snows.
Even the one who arrives by plane can enjoy the view of the mountains: from the small town of Chuanzhusy, where the road to Huanglong branches off from the road to Jiuzhaigou, the path first leads through a snowy pass with a height of 4200 m, with a distant view of the surroundings and further along serpentines more than 1000 m down to a small hotel village with large parking lots and the entrance to the main area of the reserve.
Up and down you need to walk a total of about 8.5 km, most of the distance along the laid wooden paths, so that in any weather the feet will remain dry. The entire inspection area is well maintained, signposted, with inscriptions in three languages; getting lost here is almost impossible. With a need to take some amount of provisions. There are several toilets, and those who cannot walk far can order a stretcher.
We must go a short distance through the forest, then begins a cascade of ponds. They are green in color due to the natural excess of mineral components that promote algae growth. This first group of ponds ends with a Feibulukha green waterfall 60 m wide and 10 m high. Above the ponds you will pass under the sign of a yellow color and you will get to the ocher-yellow one that falls from the cave from a height of 7 m Cishendun waterfall. They say that a certain virgin, having spent the night in this grotto, came out pregnant the next morning. Despite the one-child policy in China, the entrance to the grotto is not closed.
On the eastern side of the waterfall (on the left, if you go uphill) you can reach the Bonsai ponds (Pentszinchi) with a predominance of exclusively dwarf trees and shrubs.
A yellow dragon is referred to as the travertine surface of the valley, which ends with an ocher-yellow waterfall. Its length is 2.5 km, and its width is from 50 to 100 m. Due to the chemical reaction of rocks with water, it forms a saturated carbonic acid, an endless sequence of miniature thresholds: these are scales on the back of a giant yellow animal. Since the Chinese dragon lives in water, it is only natural that the whole valley bears his name.
Ponds, competing with each other in their diversity at the southern end of the valley of the “yellow dragon”, do what their name says. This third group of spacious travertine terraces surpasses the previous ones in its color.
This is followed by a long distance without travertine plots, and then you get to the Buddhist Temple of the Yellow Dragon (Juanlungus), where you can pay your respects to the “Immortal Yellow Dragon”. As Tibetans living in these parts tell, once a wise man had a dream that this area is threatened by a flood. He warned…