The beautiful alpine Jiuzhaigou Valley is 450 kilometres from Chengdu in Sichuan province. Its name comes from the nine Tibetan villages scattered throughout the 240 kilometre-squared valley.
It is a stunning place of natural wonders with thick forests, 114 turquoise lakes, springs, waterfalls, streams, rivers and shoals. Its limestone landscape stretches from north to south for more than eight kilometres. It was discovered only 30 years ago when loggers arrived to destroy it. Fortunately, sense prevailed they alerted local authorities and it eventually became a World Heritage site.
The area is regarded as a holy mountain and watercourse. The giant panda, golden monkey, white-lipped deer and around 140 bird species inhabit the wilds of the area, sharing it with ethnic Tibetan herdsmen. There are many species of rhododendron and bamboo, the preferred food of the panda.
Legend says that long ago, a goddess was given a mirror by the mountain deity who was in love with her. When the devil appeared, however, she dropped the mirror, shattering it into 114 pieces, which caused the creation of the magnificent lakes.
Another story claims it was the earthquakes and landslides that formed the lakes and waterfalls. The place is so beautiful, most visitors prefer the first story!
Agricultural activities are forbidden and villagers who settled there more than 1300 years ago, rely on tourism and government subsidies for their existence. The $3 they ask for photographs of them in traditional dress, helps enormously.
It is virtually impossible to stray from the trodden tourist track in China, and in peak season the national park attracts in excess of 10,000 visitors a day.
In an attempt to protect and preserve it, no public vehicles are permitted in the valley.
Autumn is possibly the most beautiful time to visit. While the surrounding mountains are topped with snow; autumn colours explode on the lower levels and that, with the added beauty of the lakes, is simply astounding. Those who live in larger cities with overwhelming traffic, noise and smog love to escape to a place where they see so many trees and blue water.
Most reach the valley by a 10-hour bus ride from Chengdu, along the Minjiang River canyon. The area is prone to rock and mudslides, which can add hours to the trip, but visitor numbers prove they aren't daunted.
There is an airport at Jiuzhaigou and flights from Chengdu take 45 minutes, followed by a two-hour drive to the park.
Shuzheng Village offers one of the main accommodation centres in Jiuzhaigou Valley. There is a golden pagoda at the front of the village where Tibetans worship Buddha and incant observances. Hotels are in the Tibetan style and prayer flags can be seen all around the village.
China's Sichuan Province.
Wendy Wu Tours has a wide variety of China Tours ranging from 10 to 29 days including airfares, all meals, accommodation, visa-fee for Australian passport holders and all transport. They start at $2680 per person twin share.
Air China has flights to Beijing.
- Melbourne $1326
- Sydney $1343
- Adelaide $1578
- Brisbane $1583
Valid for travel until March 31, 2009. Conditions apply.
Prices correct at May 8, 2008
For further information
Wendy Wu Tours
Level 9, 275
Ph: 1300 727 998
Fax: (02) 9993 0444
21/123 Pitt Street
Ph: (02) 9232 7277
Fax: (02) 9232 7645
It is recommended travellers to China see their doctor at least six weeks before departure as there are specific vaccinations recommended. Other health precautions and preventions may also be recommended. For further information visit www.welltogo.com.au.
The high Tibetan presence in this part of Sichuan has led authorities to crackdown on protests of China's handling of demonstrations in Tibet. Make sure you check the latest travel advice before you go. Log on to smarttraveller.gov.au.
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