Thursday 17 April 2014

Jiuzhaigou National Park

Day 17 - Jiuzhai Valley, Sichuan - 5737 km travelled

We're just back from a 2 day hiking trip in Jiuzhaigou national park. The park is in northern Sichuan and ranges from 2100 to almost 3500 metres in altitude. It boasts an incredible landscape of glacial lakes and forests, surrounded by imposing mountains well over 5000 metres high. For hikers, the catch is that it attracts around 5000 visitors a day, the majority of whom spend the day squeezing on and off the packed buses that run through the park. With such a high number of visitors, you're only allowed to walk on the boardwalks.
On our first day here we went into the main park, and tried to avoid the crowds with limiter success (those interested in how to avoid the crowds or for some photos see here [ ]). The park is a photographer's paradise—weather permitting—and we (Julian) got some good shots in the morning. But we really wanted to get off the beaten track...
The only way to hike properly in the park is through an eco-tour company that offer hikes in the Zharu valley. They only take 300 people a year into the valley so it's unspoilt. Interestingly, none of the hikers are Chinese which we found surprising given that 99% of the visitors to the main park are Chinese.
The hike was pretty tame as it was mainly through forest but it was worth it to have a couple of days of tranquility - China is the noisiest place I've ever been. It also gave us the chance to try some Tibetan food as we stopped for lunch in a Tibetan village, and to learn a few more mandarin words as our guide didn't speak much English.
Next stop Xi'an


Joanna Geary said...

These are incredible pictures! It looks like you're having a great time!

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