Friday, August 28, 2015

Hiking in Jiu Zhai Gou

Jiuzhaigou is a nature reserve and national park located in the north of Sichuan province, China. Jiuzhaigou Valley is part of the Min Mountains on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau, known for its many multi-level waterfalls, colorful lakes.

It attracts a lot of domestic visitors. The first day we visited Jiu Zhai Gou, the park reached its daily max at 41000 people. Thousands of tourists crowded the entrance. It took about one hour to get in and another half hour to get on the shuttle to get to vistas.

the crowd at entrance
the crowd at colorful pond
The crowd, the noise just totally destroyed any mood one has to appreciate the wonder of nature. 

The problem can be easily solved if we hike. That was what we did partially the second day. The hiking trail is at the other side of the valley from the shuttle route. Note that domestic tourists don't hike! They take shuttles to get to a location, take pictures and move on to next location to register their presence. 

Rhino Lake

The whole trail in the park is wood boardwalk!

What a difference it made - the crowd disappeared and noise evaporated after we hiked away from a major junction for about half mile. Everywhere we went, we essentially had the whole place to ourselves. We could hear the sound of rushing water in the valley, the chirping of birds in the woods and our own footsteps on the boardwalk!

water falls

a finch on a fallen tree branch
The sun came out to reveal the changing colors of water at Jiu Zhai Gou. Flowers swung in the light wind, and butterflies flew by and rest on flowers.

We hiked at a leisure pace, chatted now and then. We had a picnic lunch on the trail without blocking anyone. We enjoyed the tranquility and beauty of the wonder of nature at Jiu Zhai Gou in its "natural" state. It was one of the best day I had in China!

Note - if I go to Jiu Zhai Gou again, I would do the following

1) stay at a hotel in walking distance  to the entrance (within 2~ 3km , to beat the traffic in town)
2) hiking up the mountain on the wooden board walk (avoid crowds, no lines!)
3) cross the valley via board walk to have better views of some vistas, but will hike on the trail side 
4) go to the primitive forest side first
5) take shuttle downward
6) best to spend 2 days at the park 

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