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I made my trip to Jiuzhaigou in the spring month of March in 2006 and the stunning beauty of the fairyland were photographed to leave fond memories here.

Jiuzhaigou (九寨沟) is a valley, a nature reserve and is 330 km north of the provincial capital of Chengdu, Sichuan province of China . It is part of the Jiuzhaigou County in the Aba (阿坝) Tibetan (藏族) Qiang (羌族) Autonomous Perfecture (阿坝藏族羌族自治州) near the Gansu border, and the remote region was inhabited by various Tibetan and Qiang peoples for centuries, and was officially discovered by the government in 1972. The area becomes a national park in 1982 and was declared by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992.

The essence of Jiuzhaigou valley is water and is best known for its magnificent waterfalls and colourful placid lakes. The lakes are famous because of their transparency and their high calcium proportions which have preserved tree trunks that were fell into the lakes, for hundred of years! The fascinating valley, coupled together with its unique habitants of the Tibetans and Qiang tribes, have formed an exotic haven from the rest of the world.

Jiuzhaigou is composed of three valleys arranged in a Y shape. The Rize (日则沟) and Zechawa (则查洼沟) gullies flow from the south and meet at the centre of the site where it forms the Shuzheng (树正沟) gully, flowing north to the mouth of the valley. It is also the home to a small population of the endangered giant pandas and golden snub-nosed monkeys. Their survival is a question to increasing tourism.

It is notoriously difficult to access by land to Jiuzhaigou. We reached the valley after a full day of bus ride from Chengdu, travelling on narrow mountain roads along the Minjiang River Canyon, which is proned to frequent rockslides. Photos of the journey to Jiuzhaigou are posted here.

Awesome, it’s like an ancient map right in front of my eyes!

Next: the horrendous roads to Jiuzhaigou!

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