Terracraft landscape

Terracraft landscape

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Terracraft landscape. It is the most famous landscape in the world. More than a hundred feet tall and seven miles long, the Songpan-Hua Shan Geopark covers the Yulong Xueshan fault line and marks the boundary between the Altai Mountains to the north and the Kunlun mountains to the south. In 2009 UNESCO declared the protected area a geopark and now its is a geological museum and cultural museum where it houses over 500,000 exhibits including more than 50 rare and endangered species.

The park is comprised of three ranges—the Hua Shan Range, the Simien-Tengchong Range, and the Gan Gen Range. Although the Altai Mountains are the park's namesake, it is these mountains that most visitors see. This is because the terrain in the Gan Gen and the Simien-Tengchong ranges is difficult to navigate, requiring hikers to stay closer to the valley floor to get to the Hua Shan Range. Although this is one of the best parks in China, it still doesn't get much of a tourist following. That is why I set off on my travels to Yunnan for a 10 day expedition across some of the least known and most beautiful terrain in China. The route has gone under the radar for some time, but now is perhaps the best time to see the Hua Shan Range.



Altai Mountains

Gele District


Tugai Village


Houma Town





Zhuzi Shan

Yulong Xueshan

Terracraft Museum

Surrounding Areas

After arriving into the city of Yunnan's capital city, Kunming, the first thing to do is to find a hotel. Kunming is the last outpost of civilization before the narrow confines of the headwaters of the Yangtze River. From here, we will head south for the next two days before jumping on a train to a much different destination.

After checking in, I can't help but start looking around for food. Luckily, the train is large enough that I don't have to wait for it to stop before finding a place to find food. Although these trains are famous for having very few food options, this one did the opposite, packing a dining car and a large number of open couches and tables. In fact, most of the seats were reserved for alcohol, so we were able to have some real food to satisfy our hunger. From here we will be stopping in several places over the next two days, one of them being Shangri-la in Gele. I was excited to hear the local call for the dishes of Gele.

Alibaba White Water Tai Peak China Photography and Photo

We will be spending the next two days camping in the Shennongjia forest range, the first being in Gele. Gele has been the first choice for hikers since the 1990s when it was first designated as a national scenic reserve. Not only is it the best place for a base camp, it is a place where I can see more animals than any other.

The second day, after the hike, we will have a chance to go on a bus to Shangri-la to see the local delicacies.

The Gele Nature Reserve

Even though I've been going to Shangri-la for the past few days, I haven't been back to see the forest. The trekking trail is difficult to navigate, requiring hikers to spend a lot of time on the floor of the valley. As a result, most tourists will spend the night at the park. Since the weather is unpredictable in the highlands of Yunnan, I decide to go to a local hotel and stay there while we wait for a storm.

I thought I knew what to expect going into this hike. After all, this was the second time I was doing this in the autumn, and the results had been disappointing both times. I am glad to see that much has changed. Although the hike is still demanding, the rocks and river crossings were all as scenic as I had remembered. As far as weather, although there was no snow, the rain had not stopped.The puddles on the ground were still filled with enough water to be slippery.

On our way down from the mountain range, we were approached by a hungry pack of wild wolves. They were only about a block away, so we walked over and scared them off before entering a well-guarded cave with a monstrous pig's head.


I am quite surprised to find out that the park was the venue of the 2011 South Summit of the Dayak people. Even though we have just been in a number of the best place for the ethnic minority, it was still impressive to see a little of their culture.

After the hike, we will go on a bus to Shangri-la. This is the location where the traditional festival of the indigenous minority is held. My first thought is to ask about the delicious foods they have, but in my excitement to see the festival, I decide to watch from afar. Not only did I get an idea of the festival, but I got to watch a mass of dancers pass by. The dancing was fascinating to watch. The men seemed to be playing their instruments with passion and spirit, while the women seemed to be out in the dance as if they didn't want to look or sit down for a minute. Their passion was breathtaking. I wanted to dance, too. After the dance, I will leave the local hotel to head to Xidu.

Before arriving into town, we will stop at a viewpoint along the train track, and, like a few days before, we'll watch people pass by. The view was still amazing, but it was also a lot colder here. This makes the mountains even more dramatic and imposing.

After spending the night in Shangri-la, I can't help but enjoy the sights of this city. From here, we will head