Yunnan to Tibet overland route

 

Kunming Stone forest

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, enjoys great fame among tourists not only because the region features a consistently warm climate, but also thanks to its wonderful vistas and landscapes. Among the most dramatic of these attractions is the Stone Forest (Shilin), known since the Ming Dynasty as the 'First Wonder of the World.'

Kunming Stone forest

The Stone Forest is about 120km from Kunming and requires only a three-hour drive. It covers an area of 400 square kilometers and includes both large and small stone forests, as well as many other scenic spots. Tthe Stone Forest is one of the most important attractions of Yunnan.

Walking through the Stone Forest, visitors marvel at the natural stone masterpieces and are bewitched by the intricate formations. The magnificent, strange and steep landscape creates countless labyrinthine vistas.

Geologists say the Stone Forest is a typical example of karsts topography. Approximately 270 million years ago - during the carboniferous period of the Paleozoic era - the region was a vast expanse of sea. Over time, the movements of the lithosphere gradually caused a retreat of the waters and the rise of the limestone landscape. Due to constant erosion by the elements, the area finally developed into the present-day Stone Forest.

Admission fee is 140RMB per person to visit the stone forest.

Dali Erhai Lake
Erhai Lake is the largest highland lake next to Dianchi and one of the seven biggest freshwater lakes in China. It means, 'sea shaped like an ear', in Chinese. Dali Erhai LakeImplying that the lake is ear shaped and as large as a sea, hence it was so named. The lake covers an area of 250 square kilometers and is located about two kilometers east of Dali. It is like a crescent lying between Cangshan and Dali city as seen from Cangshan Mount. In a sunny day, the crystal waters of Erhai Lake and the snow mantled Cangshan Mount radiate with each other. Thus the scene was commonly described as 'Silver Cangshan and Jade Erhai'.

The surrounding islands, temples and villages are worth visiting too. Golden Shuttle Island (Jinsuo Dao), and the nearby fishing community of Bai Minority do really deserve a visit with its attractive Bai culture and lifestyle, and because of the rare beauty of the lake and its surrounding scenery. The most unforgettable Xiaoputuo Dao, originally devoted to Bodhisattva Kwan-yin, can be traced back to the 15th century. Though tiny and called xiao (which means small in Chinese), one can still experience and see the typical ancient Chinese Buddhist temple's unique architectural styles of its buildings' pointed eaves and decorations on this peninsular.

You can take a local sightseeing boat to explore the lake, it costs around 50RMB per person.

Tiger Leaping Gorges
About 100km northwest of Lijiang Old Town lying between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Yulong Xueshan) and Haba Snow Mountain (Haba Xueshan) is Tiger Leaping Gorge, which is believed to be the deepest gorge in the world. From the top of the gorge you look down the steeply angled (70-90 degrees) mountain sides to the rushing Golden Sands (Jingsha) River with its 18 frothing rapids more than 200 meters below.

Tiger Leaping Gorges

Naturally divided into three sections, the first section, which is the narrowest and uppermost section, is the mouth of the fast flowing Jingsha River. In the midst of the river's mouth is a large rock that is positioned at the gorge's narrowest section-only 30 meters (33 yards) wide. An ancient legend says that a tiger used this rock as its stepping stone so it could leap across from one side of the gorge to the other, which is how the gorge got its name.

As the river enters the middle section, it drops another 100 meters and its flow rate increases to an amazing speed. Here the thunderous rushing waters slam into sharp, large rocks and crash down into the river forming swirling whirlpools. Can it get more exciting? Yes, it can as the third and lowest section is acclaimed for being the wildest attraction of all!

The cliffs over-looking this section are even steeper and much more dangerous. Here, the river twists and turns and the river vigorously surges  forward creating high waves and a frothy spew as it collides with the mountainsides. This is a view that inspires a sense of adventure and satisfies the deepest yearnings for magnificent scenery.

The gorge stretches about 15 kilometers and also a very good trekking route. Admission to the Gorges is 50RMB per person.

Meili Snow Mountain 
Mt. Meili is located on the Yunnan-Tibet border with an altitude of 6740 m. It has snow-capped mountains with beautiful landscapes in the Hengduan Mountain Meili Snow Mountainrange. Rivers Zachu and Gyalmo Ngulchu are flowing through it at the foot of the mountain in two directions, east and west. The climate here is often changeable because the humid air current meets with the cold and then comes up along the river valley. The snow-capped mountain pierces up in to the sky, while its gorge is deeply cut by blue water. It is surrounded by a primitive forest and flocks of sheep on green meadows beyond the forest mingle with white clouds at the horizon. Tibetans here call her 'the god of the snows '. It is a wonderful place where many specious herbs such as caterpillar fungus, snow lotus, the bulb of fritillary, etc. are found.

Mt. Meili is one of the most sacred mountains of Tibetan Buddhism. 'Kang Karpo Peak' means the God of Snow Mountain in Tibetan, and is a holy land for worshiping. Pilgrims from Tibet, Qinghai, Sichuan,and Gansu travel to the mountain at the beginning of each winter to worship. Thousands of devout pilgrims worship together and encircle the holy mountain, adding even more mystery and loftiness to the mountain.

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