Jiuzhaigou was reached after an 11 hour bus ride from Chengdu but was worth it for it’s magnificent Karst limestone scenery. It’s described on the entrance ticket as “the world natural heritage green globe 21 a national scenic area as well national nature reserve. It has been known throughout the world as a Paradise in the Human World and Fairyland on Earth for its crystal lakes and waterfalls, virgin forests, rare animals and birds and Tibetan-Qiang folk custom.” Visitors are exhorted to “Observe the tourist order and insist on the ‘Five Particulars’ and ‘Four Beauties’. Merits will be rewarded whereas will bear blames and even be punished.” Visitors attention is drawn to “No permission with the inflammable and the explosive things on”.
The park is an inverted Y shape with the entrance at the lowest altitude, from where you are driven 30 km by bus to the highest point on the right branch.
Here you are deposited among hundreds of other tourists and dozens of stalls selling food, souvenirs and for a fee,a chance to have your photo taken in one of the local minority nationality costumes. The normal thing for 99.9 percent of visitors, after a short period of photographing each other, is to pile back into a bus to be driven to the next stop and repeat the exercise. All of course conducted at maximum volume.
But like all the popular tourists places I’ve visited in China, walkways have been constructed and within a hundred metres or so from the bus stop you have this beautiful scenery almost all to yourself.
There are several massive waterfalls….
…where you have to negotiated the crowds from the buses….
and all the way…..
some 8 km to the junction of the two branches…..
there’s pristine clear lakes…..
…and colourful foliage. And most of the time you have it all to yourself.
From the junction you can get a bus to the top of the left branch where at a higher altitude of over 3000 metres, the scenery is far more rugged and because of time constraints imposed by travel groups, most visitors never get to.