The Otherworldly Zhangjiajie

The Zhangjiajie National Park in Hunan Province was the first in China being created in 1982. That mildly interesting fact doesn’t suggest a landscape that is unlike any other you will ever see. Hundreds of karst limestone pillars rise straight out of the valley floor in a way that seems entirely improbable. No wonder it’s considered as the basis for the floating Hallelujah Mountains in Avatar (we’ve all seen it); the place seems like it’s from another world.

This landscape is best in the right light
Trees grow everywhere even in the seemingly most impossible places
Two pillars framed this vista perfectly. This was one of the very best viewpoints
However to get to the best viewpoints means lots of steps
Seriously a lot of steps. You’ve seen the landscape right? No wonder there are cable cars and giant lifts
There are even ladders to climb for the steepest sections
It’s worth it for the unbelievable views
I just kept thinking, “how does this place even exist?”
The valley floor is lush and dense with vegetation and seems like a completely different world from that up above
The pillars rise straight up. I wonder how they can still stand because it seems like they should just collapse under their own weight. Also I wondered if anyone has ever stood on top of those pillars. Each one would seem to be its own individual world (how many worlds is that now?)
Hi family at home
If I’m not mistaken this is called Heaven Pillar and rises 330 m straight up. Incredible to see in real life
You also walk down below along the river and hurt your neck by looking at the giants above
Did I mention the great views?
“No.1 World’s Greatest Bridge”. An improbable-looking connection between two pillars
We had relatively clear days. The park is famous for its mists that lend the place a mysterious air
I met some great people including a very friendly French couple from Lille, Aurélie and Matthieu but also Steven from New Zealand and Alex from London
Nice sunset
A bit cloudy but great to be in the park at night to enjoy the darkness
We had high hopes for a nice sunrise but it was too cloudy. Seeing the pillars in gentle light was nice. However the major benefit was being able to enjoy the views and move about without hoards of Chinese tour groups with loudspeakers

Next up: Picture Perfect Postcard China


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