A four hour cruise on the Li River meanders through the magical karst mountains of Guangxi, in Southern China. Often shrouded in mist, these limestone peaks are the remains of eroded ancient sea beds. Along the way, the river passes startling hills, steep cliffs, fantastic caves and farming villages. In recognition of its beauty, an image of the Li River is featured on the 20 yuan banknote.
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.
There’s a wonderful opportunity to see Giant Pandas up close at Seven Star Park, in Guilin, Guangxi Province, Southern China. We saw them at feeding time in their large enclosure, but were able to stand on viewing platforms very close to them.
Native to central western and south western China, Giant Pandas are an endangered species. The exact number of Giant Pandas living in the wild is not known, but could be as high as 2,000 to 3,000. A 2007 report shows 239 pandas in captivity inside China, and another 27 outside the country.
It was fascinating watching them asleep, moving about and feeding on bamboo when we saw them in Seven Star Park in April 2012.
Rising from riverside to mountain top, the terraced rice fields at Longsheng are a spectacular sight. Their highest point is 1100 metres. They were mostly built in the Ming Dynasty, about 500 years ago, mainly by the Zhuang and Yao people, who cleverly constructed the terraces to make use of limited arable land and water resources in this mountainous area. The appearance of the terraces changes with the season – water glistening in spring, layers of green rice shoots in summer, golden rice in the autumn, and silvery frost in the winter.
We visited the terraces in April (spring) 2012.
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