Wulingyuan's Natural Forest of Peaks

Wulingyuan’s Natural Forest of Peaks

It was evening when we arrived at the city proper of Zhangjiajie from the town of Fenghuang. That’s about 2 hours bus ride costing us 60 RMB. The bus was much better and comfortable than the ones we had from Tongren to Fenghuang, allowing us to catch on a bit of sleep. When we got down at the city station, we hired a taxi to take us to Zhangjiajie Hong Tian International Youth Hostel. At first it was a fairly smooth drive then when we got into a bottleneck at one of the streets. We some cars pulling back to turn around, we thought our taxi was gonna do the same until he went up on the pedestrian lane and started driving past the vehicles caught in the bottle neck while people were avoiding our car on the lane. It was crazy! We finally found our hostel where we would sleep at night. Zhangjiajie, this is gonna be an interesting place, I thought.

Wulingyuan Scenic Area Gateway

Wulingyuan Scenic Area Gateway

The day after we were headed to our main destination, the Wulingyuan Scenic Area. It is another one of China’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites found north of Hunan, China, covering around 243 square miles consisting of lush sub-tropical forest, stunning karst pillars and scenic streams and rivers. The area is so vast that it’s divided into three nature reserves: the Zhangjiajie National Park, the Suoxiyu Nature Reserve and Tianzi Mountain Natural Reserve. For the day due to it’s vastness we chose to go with the first one first, the Zhangjiajie National Park.

Golden Whip Stream

Golden Whip Stream

From the city we went to the local bus terminal and rode a bus heading directly to the National park which only cost 10 RMB. The ride was about 45 minutes to an hour until we reached one of the park gates. The park entrance is 248 RMB which can be a bit steep but it’s worth it if you come back the next day as well since it is valid for two days.

A mother and Child Rock formation

A mother and Child Rock formation

The park opens at 8am and closes around 5pm. If you are commuting you must be on your way back to catch the last bus going back to the city. There is also an option to stay overnight at some of the ethnic minority villages inside the park if you have the luxury of time. There are a number of touts at the gate entrance there offering their place to sleep. Again people here can be quite aggressive. There was this middle aged woman who kept following us even inside the park for more than half an hour persuading us to try their home stay in the village. She must have mistaken us probably that we would stay there for the night because of the bags we’re carrying that she even offered to carry. I know these people are just making a living that it was a bit pitiful to let them down. After a while we saw her hassling another group of tourist.

wulingyuan river and Side bridges

Wulingyuan Jinbi Strem and Side bridges

Even just after the main gates, the scene of the park was already stunning. I have only seen scenery like this in Chinese Movies and never thought it would be better seeing them with my own eyes. Those sand stone pillars about 20-30 stories high jutting from the ground up towards the sky dominates the horizon view of the park. Temperature here is not as cold as in the South West were came from so a thin layer of jacket (even none) would suffice here.

Wulingyuan Gradient Karst Pillars

Wulingyuan Gradient Karst

There are several paths to take around the park. We decided to take the right path going along the Jinbi Stream or commonly known as the Golden Whip Stream. This stream has the length of 7.5 kilometers that disect throughout the park. Trekking along side this stream is one of the best nature walks I had experienced. The Golden Whip stream is cool and crystal clear, the plants and vegetation beside it are so abundant. Couple with the scenic sandstone pillars along the way, it felt like walking in the city streets but replaced by the natural wonder of nature.

Wulingyuan Towering Sand Stone Pillar

Wulingyuan Towering Sand Stone Pillar

Just along the pathways there are marked scenic points where the Chinese gave names on several rock formations along the way. Rock formations like Mother and Child, Meeting between Man and Woman, Two turtles to name a few. At first it was kind of hard to see them but with these name suggestions one can make out the figures from the rock faces.

3,878 steps stairway

3,878 steps stairway

We came across a fork on the road where we had a choice of whether we continue the path beside the river or take a flight of stairs. The area map there showed a short distance on the trail up to the highest point of the park which is the Huang Shi Zhai where the Xianren Qiao or Bridge of the Immortals can be found. So we decided to take the stairs believing it’s a short distance up, which we found out later to be wrong.

Wulingyuan Shelter Roof and Rocks

Wulingyuan Shelter Roof and Rocks

The trail turns out to have thousands of steps. There were already some tourist hiring porters to take them up to the summit. It was a tiring hike but good thing the weather was cool enough to ease a bit of our exhaustion from climbing the stair trails. We found a mini store there midway where we took an overpriced lunch of noodles and drinks and continued on. We also passed by some lodging areas where visitors can also stay for the night. About 890+ meters above as my GPS indicated where the stair trail ends where we finally had a flat trail. Then shortly I heard what sounds like a motor approaching then I saw a bus pass by. How the heck did that bus got here! Funny thought that there are transpos for this summit and if we pushed further down the river there’s also a paid elevator at the end trail going up to the summit. Thinking about it we could have explored more with the an hour and a half going through the stairs had we known about it. Anyways, we savored our hike and finally reached the amazing view of China’s Ancient Skylines.

Wulingyuan China's Ancient Skyline

Wulingyuan China’s Ancient Skyline

If in the US coast they have the Grand Canyon, Asia has the Wulingyuan Scenic Area Boasting 3,100 Sand Stone Pillars scattered in the area and more than 1000 of those rising up more than 200meters. It’s really hard to describe how it looks like unless you see it for yourself. I think my pictures also pales in comparison to what it really looks like in reality. The only downside I see here is the number of tourists flocking the area. We were wondering where most of the tourist went when we were climbing the stairs not knowing they were already there on an easier more convenient route.

We also found the natural bridge, Xianren Qiao. But it somehow didn’t reach my expectation. It was just a short length of natural rock bridge connecting two pillars. At that time there were lots of Chinese tourist taking pictures there that I just left the area.

Wulingyuan Towering Sandstone Karst

Wulingyuan Towering Sandstone Karst Pillars

We spend the rest of the afternoon admiring the vast geological wonder of Wulingyuan Forest of Peaks. We left soon before the park closes and to catch the last bus going back to the city. This time we took the expensive elevator down the summit which costs us 56 RMB per person. Rode the service bus back to the entrance gate and finally, thankfully found the bus going back to the city of Zhangjiajie by nightfall.

Ferdz on FacebookFerdz on FlickrFerdz on GoogleFerdz on InstagramFerdz on PinterestFerdz on RssFerdz on TwitterFerdz on Youtube
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.

14 Responses to “China: Zhangjiajie National Park”

  1. wulfriend, seeing these is like going through postcards or a travel documentary.
    kinda makes me wanna knock my head over and over again for missing out on this opportunity.
    i’d like to pinpoint a particular favorite capture but each one is stunning in its own right.
    may pagka-out of this world. read about the persistent seller and i guess it’s a scene repeated everywhere there are tourists.
    anyway, am looking forward to more of your china posts. ang lalim ng archive mo amigo 😀

  2. dami mo pa pala talagang naiwang pictures sa china trip mo. kakamangha tong mga ganitong lugar. kaya lang parang nakakatakot din at anytime pwedeng mag earthquake at mahulog yang mga yan. haba din ng trinek ninyo.

  3. great goodness, this place is enchanting! you have captured not only the beauty but even the sentiment of the place. the grandeur and beauty gives a chill down to my spine. really. hirap i-describe gaya ng sabi mo maiintindihan mo lang kapag nakita mo na siya mismo. lalo pa siguro in real life. The 2nd to the last shot makes me feel like I am on top. i also love the fourth shot kase dito naman, feeling ko ang taas ng tinitingnan ko. galing mo mag-angulo ng shots, Ferdz. sulit na sulit ang China trip mo. I heard you plan to go to Laos? Next year ba yan or this year na?

  4. I love the first photo and the view from the top pero for those whom can feel giddy whenever they are so high above ( peaks, towers, etcetera ) it’d be scary, di ba? Well, nature parks are really nice to visit b/c of its preserved beauty and whatnots.


  5. Ei Oggie! There’s always a next time 😉 My China Chronicles is nearing it’s end na rin in a few posts.

    Yeah Dom, still have leftover materials there pero like I said it’s nearing it’s end. So far after all these years these natural structures stood the test of time. Kakaiba talaga.

    Naku Rayts! Thanks for the kind words. Maganda talaga yung place, and I bet it would look better in different lighting conditions. Laos might be next on the list real soon 😀

    Yup Kyels, if you are afraid of heights it could get giddy even with the railings.

    Thanks Ranalyn! If I can I would visit the place again. Salamat sa pagbisita.

    Hahaha Thanks Eric. Naku nagulat din kami dun sa taxi na yun. Dumaan sa sidewalk yung taxi.

    Thanks Photocache. My pleasure to share. More to come from Zhangjiajie.

    Yes Mimi! And what’s amazing is that they were sculpted by nature.

    Thanks Eric! Good thing my friend knows this place. A blessing din I guess. Even if we didn’t get to see Jiuzhaigou, we get to see this.

  6. Your first photo in this post is of the peak named “South Sky Pillar (Nan Tian Yi Chu)”. This peak would become the inspiration for the Hallelujah Mountains in the Avatar movie. I went to Zhangjiajie National Park in February of 2010, and they had posters of two pictures comparing South Sky Pillar with Hallelujah Mountain to show people evidence that the Avatar mountain originated here.

  7. Hi Ferdz,
    I failed to see this earlier, grabe sa ganda. This is the most enchanting place i’ve seen among your toured places. I have been contemplating on visiting the rock formations in Guangxi, but i think this is better. Sana makahanap ulit ako ng kasama, hehe. Grabe talaga pag ikaw ang kumuha ng photos, nakaka engganyo talaga, at parang hindi kami mapakali pag hindi namin mapuntahan.

    Oggie, punta rin tayo rito. Alam mo na kung bakit kita isinasama! According to Ferdz, navigationally challenged ako, huhuhu.

  8. Andersreisender

    I have been at the Zhangjiajie National Park today. It’s absolutely great!

    @ U Joe: But there are also other regions in China, they say that the Halleluja Mountains were inspired by their mountains (for example in the province Anhui).

Leave a Reply

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>