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WULONG COUNTY ¡  

Wulong on the Wu Jiang is a wonderful weekend getaway with a cool climate and unforgettably stunning scenery that rivals the Three Gorges. A new motorway via Nanchuan to Qianjiang in the east of Chongqing will soon make the three and half hour trip even shorter and much more pleasant than it already is. The new rail line south from Fuling, Wulong, Qianjiang and Xiushan into Guizhou has also made this area much more accessible.  
 
The Wu River is a significant tributary of the Yangtze and an important transport link from it\\'s headwaters in Guizhou. It was until recently navigable for several hundred kilometers uninterrupted by man made dams. The only hindrances were the natural rapids formed as it cuts its way through miles of spectacularly steep and narrow gorges. A new hydroelectric dam just upstream from Pengshui, completed recently has tamed much of the river especially the reaches upstream of the dam. The drive south from Baima to Wulong is breathtaking - with the road cut into the sheer banks of the river under overhanging cliffs or threading through countless tunnels. On the other bank the rail line disappears through tunnels at a similarly stunning frequency.
 
The region surrounding Wulong is now a recognised Geological Park featuring the Karst country for which much of southern China is famous. But unlike the area surrounding Guilin - flat plains dotted with pimply peaks - Wulongs treasures are hidden amidst the folds of massive rugged mountain ranges and often lie deep beneath the surface. Chongqing Municipality is home to some of the largest 'sink holes' or Tian Kangs in the world and the Tian Keng San Qiao  in Wulong just happens to be one of them.  

A new Wulong city, small by most standards has grown up on the east bank of the river leaving the old town to disintegrate along the western bank. Hotels and guesthouses, mostly to be found near the junction of the road to Fairy Maiden Mountain, Xian Nu Shan Ůɽ are plentiful and cheap. Accommodation of various qualities is available near all the scenic spots but are at a premium on weekends, especially at Fairy Maiden Mountain which is quickly being transformed into a summer holiday retreat for Chongqings growing upper and middle classes with resort type complexes sprouting up like mushrooms. The cool clear mountain air, great scenery, loads of activities and fresh local food all make this an extremely attractive location. 

Wulong city is a good base for exploration of the whole area but if you'd like to stay in the mountains then head up there early and find a room for your stay before midday or you risk missing out on the bargains. Farm stays are the cheapest options at Xian Nu Shan but some of the resort hotels offer reasonable rates but you'll need to book them in advance.

 
ATTRACTIONS

For me, the Three Bridges Tian Keng San Qiao  would have to be the hottest attraction. While not as grand as the Grand Canyon it is still an impressive sight. On the road to Xian Nu Shan Ůɽ, Fairy Maiden Mountain, the turn off is just outside the village of Xian Nu Shan which is in the middle of a construction zone. Access to the scenic spot in the depths of the gorge is via a new elevator opposite the ticket and information centre. The year I first visited there was no such luxury and I barely made the climb back up to the rim in the burning afternoon heat while teams of 'Extreme' sportsmen from all over Asia ran through the gorge, following up on this activity with an afternoon of abseiling. I nearly had to be carried out. 

Entrance fee is Y50 and includes the elevator.   Allow 3/4 hours

Before taking the elevator one can wander along to a viewing pergola on the rim towards the far end of the car park. For the very adventurous it is worth following this pathway along the rim of the gorge from where one is offered a bird's eye view of the elevator, two of the bridges and the sheer expansive size of it all. This pathway leads to a dozen farm houses further up the valley and walking access to the bottom of the gorge along the footpaths that descend like tiny threads to the valley floor.
 
On a smaller scale but just as attractive is Shui Long Xia ˮϿ at other end of this Geo Park. Access is off the same road from Wulong city towards the village of Baiguo (White fruit) where there's a guesthouse and a handful of small restaurants. The view from the rim of the gorge overlooks a long flying waterfall that drops about half the depth of the gorge. The first part of the descent is down steps and through a tunnel. Emerging form the tunnel visitors are greeted with the welcome sight of an elevator, which makes the descent to the bottom of the waterfall. 

It's another steep climb into gorge which is cool and dripping with wispy waterfalls. The stream which has been sub-terrain for several kilometers emerges here from a deep fissure and flows over many large rapids and under small natural stone bridges eventually spilling into a small swimming hole where the gorge finally opens up. Daylight tumbles in and a light breeze ruffles the trees. The sound of birds, cicadas and frogs fills the air. 

Despite the steep descent the return journey is an easy climb in several stages. Firstly the boardwalk meanders along the stream beside sheets of gossamer water cascading over the rock walls before winding behind the deep flying falls which on a hot day offers a light refreshing shower. Take a break on the observation platform which is drenched in the noon sunlight before tackling the steep but stunning climb into the mouth of the fissure. A path leads several hundred meters deep inside and torch would be useful to see the water that drips from the opposite wall of the fissure. Then it's just a short walk back to the elevator and back up to the surface. 

Entrance fee Y50 includes elevator Allow 2/3 hours

A further 30 minutes south of Wulong city in the hills above Jiang Kou is the famous Furong Dong ܽض Hibiscus Cave perched above the livid green waters backed up behind the dam. The cave is one of the best in the region and receives large numbers of visitors but the interesting activity here is the Flying Fox high across the lake and back. But be warned that there are a few steps to tackle on the walk back to the terminal. There are boat cruises of 2 and 3 hours duration which offer very close up glimpse of rural life along the riverbanks.
 
And lastly Xian Nu Shan Ůɽ which offers her Chinese visitor a small taste of country life.    For most foreign visitors I feel it has nothing exceptional or unique to offer and is highly over-rated. There are trees and grass, horses and go-carts, cows and goats, cabbages and huge turnips, a golf-driving range and winter skiing for beginners only. There is fresh air, blue skies and a big night sky full of stars but it is fast becoming a resort with all the trappings that make it much like any other.   
 
Park Entrance fee Y50 per person                                    

Vehicle Entrance fee Y30
 
Here's just a glimpse of some of what's on offer in Wulong County.  

Huang Bai Du   Yellow Cypress Crossing 
This tributary of the Wujiang offers 8 kms of white water rafting upstream from Wulong in two/three man rafts. 
 
Caving is another activity but open only to experienced cavers with government permission and local guides. 
 
Tian Kang San Qiao

Y50
 
Shui Long Xia 

Y50

Furong Dong Cave
 

Entrance fee Y70
Flying Fox Y50
Boat Cruise 3hr Y120 (includes cable car)
Boat Cruise 2hr Y100 (includes cable car)
Cable car Y35 (round trip)
 
Xian Nv Shan State Forest Park

Y50 per person
Y30 per vehicle

Date: 20 Nov 08    Views: 458    Comments: 4          

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