My time in China had almost come to an end but on my way out of Amdo heading to Chengdu on route to Nepal I spent 2 days visiting Jiuzhaigou Nature Reserve.
This place is one of the most beautiful national parks I have visited. The park is pristine and immaculately maintained despite the fact that 1.5 million people visit here each year and it isn’t that big. The only way to explore the park is by foot or on one of the many shuttle buses that run up and down the park all day long. The park is 32km in length so at some point you really need to jump on the shuttle bus to reach the upper levels of the park. It is ideal to spend one day in the lower region and another in the upper which can be very expensive in the peak season but during the off season when I visited it is only a fraction more to spend two days there.
As it was the off season many of the walkways were closed but in most cases you could quickly get around the gate and explore in solitude. Reasons seem to vary as for the closure with some staff saying the pathways are snowed in, others because of extreme fire danger and others because they were under construction. Although it was the offseason there were still a lot of Chinese tourists visiting the park and I cannot imagine what it must be like during peak season.
The Jiuzhaigou Valley area is also Tibetan and the national park is dotted with “Tibetan Villages”. The villages along the road of the park are more of a tourist attraction rather than a real village and the last time that these Tibetan’s would have had the opportunity to live a traditional way of life would have been a long, long time ago. You’re not supposed to be able to stay within the park itself but if you hang around the Tibetan Villages near closing time and speak to the right people you may be able to arrange a homestay which is what the two American guys did that I had been exploring the park with. I was leaving early the next morning which prevented me from doing the same, I also didn’t get to see them before I headed off so I can’t say how it all went.
I think that the best way that I can describe this place is through my photos rather than my words… Hopefully I captured at least a fraction of the real beauty of the place within them, see them here.