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Jiuzhai Valley National Park

【Location】Tibetan Qiang Autonomous Prefecture of Ngawa
【Type】 World Natural Heritage
【Rank】 ★★★★★
【Recommended Time to stay】 1- 3 Day
【Opening Hours】
• Each April to October: 6:00-21:00
• Each November to March: 6:30-20:00

Located in the north of Sichuan Province, Jiuzhaigou County (previously known as Nanping County until being renamed in 1998) is part of the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture. Since the opening of the Jiuzhaigou Valley Scenic and Historic Interest Area in 1984, visitors have flocked to the region year by year, and the prosperous tourist industry now accounts for a large proportion of local revenue.

Jiuzhai Valley.jpgJiuzhaiguo's patchwork of shimmering lakes was discovered when scientists trailing some pandas, observing their habitat and migration patterns, followed the pandas into this scenic wonderland. Scientists believe the lakes were formed because of the calcium carbonate in the following water when the earth was between ice ages. When the global climate warmed up, the calcium carbonate became active and attached itself to obstacles in the water, forming the milky white, lunar shapes in Jiuzhaigou's lake water. The scenery in the area leaves most breathless as the sheer beauty of the lakes ad the vibrancy of the colors defy explanation. Cut into the mountains in the shape of a"Y", three valleys, Shuzheng, Rize and Zechawa, extend over 50km into three main zones. Pathways and roads have been laid in the valley areas and buses ferry tourists from one section of park to another.

Lying on the highest tableland in the world between the Sichuan Basin and the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, Jiuzhaigou Valley covers altitudes ranging from 2,000 meters (6,561 feet) to about 4,300 meters (14,107 feet). With large number of lake groups, waterfalls and rich variety of endangered plants and fauna, it was awarded the status of UNESCO Man and Biosphere Reserve in 1997 and was also recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. The reserve has received a string of other titles including that of a National Geological Park, a AAAA Class Scenic Spot in China and a Green Globe 21.

It is impossible to pick a favorite among the many lakes considering the natural beauty of Jiuzhaigou. Shuzheng, the largest and most accessible of the three lake-specked valley is an ideal place to begin your exploration. Spread out over hundreds of acres, the main attractions in Shuzheng Vally are the Shuzheng, Nuorilang Lakes, Dragon Lake and Spark Lake. The first two are stepped lakes, dropping in stages over mountain ledges with crystal clear water cascading from one tier to the next. Water music rarely sounded as sweet.

The milky yellow dyke at the centre of Shuzheng Lake is clearly visible through the clear water, looking like a dragon crouching below the lake. Shuzheng waterfall meanwhile bangs and crashes its way down the hillside before plummeting into the lake.

Calcium carbonate coatings on dead trees on the bed of the lake resemble abstract art creations in their twisted, yelllow shapes. Add to the color mix, the turquoise, saffron and crimson color of vegetation in the lake and tree leaves reflected in the lake and you've got an image more colorful and pretty than a George Seurat painting. We spotted several sketch pads, mostly on the knees of foreign visitors but ther's plenty of justification for taking an easel and box of paints up here.

The Top 3 Lakes in Jiuzhai Valley

Five-Coloured Lake
There is a fairy tale in ancient China that the princess of heaven has a five-colored lake called Jasper Lake in her palace. In Jiuzhaigou Valley you can see that lake of legend. Through forest clearings and the briefest of glimpses between needle clad branches you may catch a glimpse of the water which sparkles in a scope of sky blues, light greens, yellows, greys, pinks and blues.

Five Flower Sea
Rize Gully Five Flower Sea is even more magnificent. Surrounded by mountains, the sea looks like a huge calabash infusing colorful water continuously into the foot of the mountain. The strange part is that on the belly of the calabash, there is a ten-meter long light blue design which looks like the leg of a deer. Legend has it that it is the residing spirit of a spotted deer which slipped and fell down the cliff.

The Changhai Sea
A large lake located at an altitude of 3000 meters, Changhai, 'the King of the Lakes' is surrounded by snow year round. In spring and autumn, the lake reflects the mountain snow or the maple trees. In winter the lake freezes into a spectacle of icy beauty.

Best Time to Visit Jiuzhaigou Valley
The best time to visit Jiuzhaigou is in the late Spring and the Autumn, especially in April, May, September and October. At this time, the water resource is very adequate, lots of waterfalls and brook here and there. Especially in September and October when the valley is decorated by colorful autumn leaves, Jiuzhaigou Valley is known as the fairyland of colors.

How to Get to Jiuzhai Valley from Chengdu
By Plane:There are direct flights between Chengdu to Jiuzhai Airport,the flight schedules:11:05,12:20,16:45, but all flights are only available during summer and autumn each year, the flight time is about 1 hour.
By Bus: Take public bus at Chengdu Southern Bus Station,there is only one bus you can take at 8:00am, the full ticket is 128RMB/PAX;Take bus at Chengdu Chadianzi Bus Sation,a lot of buses are available from 7:20am to 4:00pm.

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