Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou Tour – a lifetime experience of culture and nature in three days

21/12/2014
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I wrote this post about the trip I made last week to northern Sichuan, together with my three colleagues, where I had without a doubt the experience of the most interesting cultural and beautiful nature in Sichuan – spending three days on the Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou bus tour, arranged by a local travel company in Chengdu.

Our trip:

Day 1: Chengdu – Wenchuan – Mao County – Mounigou – Songpan County – Jiuzhaigou Goukou area ( Zhangzha Town )
Day 2: Jiuzhaigou Natural Park
Day 3: Jiuzhaigou – return to Chengdu.

Five-colored Lake

Five-colored Lake

Day 1: Chengdu – Mounigou – Jiuzhaigou

My alarm went off at 4:50am and we needed to get to pick-up point at 6:20am. By 6:30, we left and set for an eight hours driving ahead of us. After one and half hours doze, we arriveed at Wenchuan ( 汶川 ) where 2008 earthquake happened, and our tour guide ( Xiao Zhao ) got up at the front of the bus and with a perky Good Morning ( 大家好 ). Then he started to tell us all about the trip head, and the cultures and local dialects of Qiang ethnic minority, and that of Tibetan ethnic minority in the regions of the Northwestern Sichuan, and the history of the areas, and the stories of the ethnic minorities…..

About two hours, he stopped his explanation and got off for the lunch. It was the best meal within my three trip, with some Sichuan special dishes, meet. We were happy for this lunch. But I need to remind other visitors later that this kind of good meal is often offered due to the high altitude and special surroundings. The further northward part of Sichuan, the worse and simpler the meals are offered.

By 1pm, we arrived at Mounigou Scenic Spot ( 3105m ), a substitute of Huanglong Scenic Spot in winter ( about from Nov.16 – Mar.31 ). We had 40 minutes to walk in the park. Actually, we just had ten munites walking to the waterfall, twenty munites taking photos with the waterfall and water and lake, and ten munites going back, but the time is enough to do there.

Mounigou Waterfalls

Mounigou Waterfalls

With a few hours driving, we arrived into Jiuzhaigou at 8 in the evening. Before that, we were received by a Tibetan family – Zhuoma Zangjia. At her home, we took photos, sang and danced, ate Zangba and highland black fungus – Tibetan featured food, drank Butter Tea and Barley Wine, and gnawed a Yak bone with blackened meat.

After checking in the hotel which is a 4-star hotel with double beds ( 2.0m* 1.2m ), private bathroom, air-condition, electric boiling pot, LCD TV, Telephone, and other toiletries, equivalent to the 3-star hotel in some big cities in China, I had a good rest and sleeping.

The hotel we stayed

The hotel we stayed

Day 2 Jiuzhaigou Natural Park

Jiuzhaigou is a very popular travel destination in all year around. The valley is a great masterpiece of the Nature, with dreamlike scenery combining scenic waterfalls, blue lakes, verdant forests, snow-covered mountains, and the folk customs of te Tibetan and Qiang people.

If anyone ask me where is the most beautiful winter land in China, I will tell you that Jiuzhaigou Valley is the NO.1, with no doubt. Now, follow my trip to find Jiuzhaigou winter sceneries.

At 8 o’clock, we got the ticket from tour guide and entered into Jiuzhaigou from the entrance, and then took the buses. The buses are running along the route and stopping at scenic spots in the valley. Visitors can just hop up and down any of the buses inside the park free of charge. So we planed to visit Rize Valley first from the top to Nuorilang central station, after lunch continue to visit Zechawa Vally, and later visit Shuzheng Valley, finally take bus back to the entrance of Jiuzhaigou Natural Park.

Because it was winter, the paths were covered by snow and some paths were closed, like the road from Arrow Bamboo Lake to Virgin Forest; some footpaths were also closed. Our bus stopped at the top station – Arrow Bamboo Lake. Got off the bus and shocked by the preocular snow sceneries: under blue sky with white clouds are pine trees covered by small ice and the lake with green water, and the road covered by thick white snow.

Panda Lake

Panda Lake

Then walking along the wooden walkway and meanwhile taking beautiful photos, we spent 20 munites there. Taking bus from Arrow Bamboo Lake to Panda Lake. Walking to the perfect viewing point through underground passage. 20 minutes are enough there. Then taking the bus to visit Five-colored Lake. More time was spent there for taking photos.

Five-colored Lake, also called Peacock Lake, is meters deep, with an area of 90,000 square meters and at an elevation of 2,472 meters. Its water at different depths covered a color spectrum from pale blue through aquamarine to emerald green. Geologists attribute the phenomenon to mineral concentration. The view is crowned as a wonder of Jiuzhaigou. Local individuals says that the Five-colored Lake is a Holy Lake, and the entire Valley is called fairyland. The surroundings of the Lake are home to over 140 species of birds, exotic plants and animals, as well as giant pandas, gold-nosed monkeys and tapirs.

Then we walked on the wooden walkway at Pearl Shoal, down to the big Pearl Shoal Waterfall. Everyone is jostling for a better spot to snap pictures. The water is shallow, but don’t go to the water and play.

Pearl Shoal Waterfall

Pearl Shoal Waterfall

Pearl Shoal Waterfall is a wide river waterfalls with interesting limestone cliffs, making up their drops provide an interesting texture. Its width is about 163m and height is 21m. It is famous for one of the filming places in the move – “Journey to the West” ( 西游记 ) Continue to take bus to Mirror Lake which got its name because the calm water surface looks like a mirror. Afterwards, we took the bus the Nuorilang Centre Station for lunch.

After lunch, the bus took us directly to the top of Zechawa Vally – Long Lake. The temperature was so low that I didn’t want to stay a little time. Just snapped a few photos and then took bus to Colorful Pool.

Long Lake

Long Lake

In my opinion, the Colorful Pool is the most beautiful spot in the Valley. There is no trunk in the water, like in the Mirror Lake and Panda Lake. In the water, there are just many mineral stones. The blue water changes to green color as it becomes deeper gradually. Many beautiful photos were took here.

Colorful Lake

Colorful Lake

Then we took the bus back to Nuorilang Centre Station, and walked about 500m to Nuorilang Waterfalls. It is the highest one among the three waterfalls in the Valley, and the others are Pearl Shoal Waterfalls and Arrow Bamboo Lake Waterfalls. The beautiful Nuorilang Waterfalls are over 270 meters wide and 24.5m high. There is a perfect viewing point on the opposite side to get a panoramic view of the whole waterfalls.

Nuorilang Waterfalls

Nuorilang Waterfalls

Next, we took the bus and stopped every stop, and visited Rhinoceros Lake, Tiger Lake, Shuzheng Waterfalls, Shuzheng Group Lakes, Sparkling Lake and Bonsai Shoal. At four thirty, we went back to the entrance. That was to say that we spent eight hours in visiting the beautiful scenic spots in the Valley by bus transportation. Usually, if visitors have more time and visit Jiuzhaigou in other season, they hope to spend two days to visit Jiuzhaigou: one day to hike in Rize Valley and Zechawa Valley and another day to hike in Shuzhen Valley.

In the evening, we were arranged to watch a Tibetan cultural show – Zangmi ( 《藏谜》) at Jiuzhaigou Zangmi Grand Theatre. The show tells us a story about an elderly Ama pilgrimaging from Jiuzhaigou to Lhasa, and what she saw and heard. I will write it in my later post in details.

Zangmi Show

Zangmi Show

Day 3 Jiuzhaigou – Minjiangyuan – Shangmocun – Chengdu

Today, we started off at seven o’clock. At eight ten, we arrived at Minjiangyuan, the source of Minjiang River, the mother river of Tibetans in Sichuan area. At the Tibetan New Year, the local Tibetans will get together here and worship to their mother river.

Afterwards, we entered into a local Tibetan family at another Tibetan village, different from Zhuoma Zangjia. They believe in the different branch of Tibetan Buddhism. The main point is that visitors can not take photos in the house, because there are many Buddha pictures and Thangka hanging on the wall. But other differences need you to find out. The bus took us, by way of Songpan, Miao County, Wenchuan and back to Chengdu.

Shangmo Cun

Shangmo Cun

Nearly at 7pm, we arrived at Chengdu. Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou tour is a real lifetime experience of culture and nature in three days.