You are not in Kansas anymore, you are on Pandora, ladies and gentlemen, respect that fact every second of every day ~ Avatar
There are certain moments in life that are so astonishing you feel as though you are in a dream.
I felt like that when I got married , I was so euphoric with happiness that I felt like I was floating up outside of my body, taking in the moment.
When I got back to the hotel after walking on The Great Wall of China I felt like I had dreamed the entire day, it was surreal to think that I had stepped upon something so vast and historic.
Seeing the beauty of the misty Hallelujah Mountians in Zhangjiajie was another one of those moments… It was like nothing I have ever seen before, the giant pillar-like quartz sandstone rocks looked like something from another planet… no wonder this beautiful part of China served as inspiration for Pandora, the world within James Cameron’s blockbuster movie Avatar.
Before I learned we were heading over to Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou for 3 months, I didn’t know very much about China. With the exception of the Great Wall, I hadn’t anticipated such beautiful landscapes and Zhangjiajie had some of the most breathtaking scenery I have ever seen. China is truly a fascinating part of the world.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
Zhangjiajie attracts tourists from all over the world that flock to see the mysterious mountains, scenic lakes and curious caves. The National Forest Park was named in 1992 as a world heritage site and here you can find beautiful waterfalls, Baofeng Lake and the cable car to take you up to the Avatar Hallelujah Mountains.
The park is so vast that an entrance ticket will last four days… this is such a good call for a number of reasons, the main one being the weather. If you are unlucky one day, you are still able to return the next giving you a good chance of seeing those insane views!
The Glass Bridge
As if Avatar mountains and monkeys weren’t enough, Zhangjiajie is also home to the famous Grand Canyon Glass Bridge that spans two mountain cliffs. The Glass Bridge, is suspended 260m above ground, which makes it the tallest glass bridge in the world.
The Bridge is a real tourist attraction and only 800 people are allowed on the bridge at a time, so be prepared to queue for a while.
At first my legs were a bit jellyish but once I got over the initial fear of walking on glass I really got into it! I mean, when will I ever get the opportunity to walk on a glass bridge again?
Yellow Dragon Cave
Yellow Dragon Cave was only discovered in 1983 (I’ve heard that was a good year 😉) and at about 30 kilometers long, 80 meters wide and average 50 meters in height, it is the largest cave in Asia.
To help with visibility, there is coloured lighting inside the cave… which gives it a sense of a hidden grotto. We took a boat ride on the water inside the cave and it was almost like being on a ride at Disney, not in a natural cave thousands of years old. I had to keep reminding myself of where I was… it was pretty incredible.
It’s worth pointing out that there are over 900 steps and because the cave is … well, a cave, it can be a little damp, so you may want to pop your grippy walking boots on for this one.
The day we went up to Tianmen mountain was our final day in Zhangjiajie and unfortunately the weather wasn’t on our side. Our parade was well and truly rained on!
Although I spent all morning padding about in what felt like cold sloppy porridge, even in the wet weather it was pretty amazing/scary to be at the top of a Mountain and not be able to see the edge!!
We took a cable car through the clouds up to the top and the mist made it all very atmospheric. Tianmen Mountain is well known for it’s glass skywalk along the cliff edge…. in a way I was quite pleased that it was so misty – it made me feel like I was cloud hopping.
All in all, my visit to Zhangjiajie was absolutely beautiful. I feel so lucky to have experienced such an incredible place.
My number one suggestion would be to get a tour guide. We had a fantastic guide, named Tony, he organised everything down to a tea. He arranged our entrance tickets (often we skipped queues with him) our transportation and he was so knowledgeable every step of the way.
We stayed at the Pullman hotel in the National Forest Park, which I would recommend, it was lovely and a great location.
You can get direct flights from Guangzhou to Zhangjiajie and it only takes roughly an hour.
Love Emily xxx