A forest made of stone. That’s what visitors see when they visit The Stone Forest, in Yunnan Province, Southern China. The spectacular limestone pillars were formed millions of years ago. Some rise up to 30 metres tall, and give the illusion of petrified trees.
About 270 million years ago, this region was a vast expanse of sea. Over time, movements of the lithosphere gradually caused a retreat of the water and a rise of the limestone landscape. The rocks were gradually worn away by the water, forming the intriguing shapes that can be seen today.
Since 2007 The Stone Forest has been listed as a World Heritage site. It is 80 hectares of an extensive area of 400 square kilometres of limestone formations.
Thousands of Chinese and overseas tourists visit The Stone Forest each year. It is a 120 km trip from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province.
What shapes can you see? The next three photos show some formations that lead to creative interpretations.
Ashima was a beautiful girl in a Sani folk tale. The rock is said to resemble her with a cane basket of flowers on her back. The Sani people are a branch of the Yi ethnic group, and live in this area of China. There are many working in The Stone Forest.