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The Huanglong scenic area is in the Songpan county of Sichuan Province in China.
Designated as a heritage site under Natural Criterion vii by UNESCO, this area is made up of snow mountains, waterfalls, limestone formations and pools, hot springs, and virgin forest ecosystems. This area is also home to endangered animals and plants.
The name 'Huanglong Valley' means 'Yellow Dragon Valley' because of its colorful pools. This park is about 186 mi (300 km) from the capital city of Chengdu and can be easily visited by bus.
The best time to visit is April to November. However, autumn can be very pretty here as the clear water of the pools reflects the changing colors of the leaves. In winter, some of the pools here freeze over.
Also referred to as a 'Fairy Land on Earth' and a 'World Wonder', this park is located in the southern area of the Minshan Mountain range. Huanglong Valley is quite close to the source of the Fujirang River. The water that is formed from melted snow mixes with the underwater water that is rich in limestone. This water then deposits the calcium carbonate mixed in it onto rocks, branches, and stones as it flows down the mountain.
When the calcium carbonate reacts with organic substances such as bacteria, algae, and other inorganic material, it forms various kinds of deposits that contain a high amount of calcium. When the sun shines on these, they sometimes appear yellow and look like a dragon. Hence, it got the unique name of 'Yellow Dragon Valley'.
This National Nature Reserve is 19.5 mi (31.5 km) long, 17.6 mi (28.4 km) wide, and covers a total area of 55,000 hectares (550 sq. km). It is comprised of two sites which are the Huanglong Valley and the Mounigou, or Muni, Valley.
The 22 mi (3.6 km) limestone formations located in Huanglong Gou are the most important in this area. They are made up of more than 3,300 colorful ponds that flow along the limestone terraces to form waterfalls and rapids. The large amount of calcium bicarbonate, along with the various types of moss, algae, and bacteria in the water causes it to change color from blue to yellow, green, and milky. The colors of the pools also change during the various seasons as the clear water reflects the changing shades of the vegetation around them.
The largest of these pool formations is the Jinsha Pudi, or Golden Sand Beach, which is made of yellow tufa, also known as calcium carbonate. This long yellow pool is considered to be the largest limestone formation in the world.
Mounigou Valley is made up of mostly virgin forest. The Zhaga Waterfall in this area is the largest calcified waterfall in China. There are many limestone caves in the area of the Erdao Lake. This connects it with other similar water bodies present here. The stalactites in the cave near Baihua Lake are the most magnificent of all.
The climatic conditions vary here with it being cold and damp in the mountains and dry and cool in the valley. The summers are wet and warm with most of the precipitation occurring from May to September.
One of the interesting geographical features in this scenic area is the Welcome Pool, or Yingbing Pool, which is made up of pools that are of different shapes and sizes and flow from the upper ponds to the lower ones.
The many streams of water that gush out of the forest and down the slope form a kind of a ladder waterfall known as the Flying Waterfall.
The Bonsai Pool is made up of 300 small colorful ponds and are among the most beautiful of the many unique natural wonders in the world.
The cool humid weather in Huanglong Valley is perfect for rhododendron to flourish, flower, and thrive. Hence, there are many different varieties of this flowering plant in Huanglong Valley. These are in bloom between the months of March and June.
Huanglong Valley has only one lake, the Lianyan Lake. This lake has shimmering clean water and is 21,527.82 sq. ft (2,000 sq. m). The water in all of the pools here are so clear that you can see the bottom with your naked eye, so much so that the waters of this lake are considered to be the cleanest and clearest of all.
The Flowering Washing Pool, Jade Plants Pool, and Turning Flower Pool located in the north of the reserve, and the Stone Pagoda Village Sea Pool, are a few of the other famous pools here. The snow-capped peaks are called Minshan, and the tallest peak rises about 18,333 ft. (5,588 m) above sea level.
The population of this area is low with about 600 people. These belong to the Han and Hui ethnic groups. Geologically, as this area sits on quite a few faults or fracture zones, such as the Snow Mountain Great Fault and the Minjiang River Fault, earthquakes are a common occurrence.
There are many different types of rare animals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish that can be found in this area. Quite a few of these species are declared as endangered species. Some of the animals that can be found here include the giant panda, the Himalayan black bear, various types of deer species, and the clouded leopard. A species of monkey known as the Sichuan golden snub-nose that is found here is also marked among the endangered species.
Although the population of the giant panda is not very large at this site, its proximity to the Wanglang Nature Reserve make it quite significant. In addition to the many types of waterfowl species that can be found here, bird species like the pheasant and the rufus-headed robin are also commonly seen.
The vegetation here can be classified depending on the altitude. Between 5,577.4-7,548.9 ft (1,700-2,300 m), maple and pine are quite common. From 7,545.9-11,811.0 ft (2,300-3,600 m) the forest is mostly comprised of coniferous trees such as spruce and birches. From 11,811.0-12,795.2 ft (3,600-3,900 m), mountain shrubs and rhododendron are widely found. At 12,795.2 ft (3,900 m), large swathes of alpine meadows are the only form of vegetation. Snow and ice are the only feature throughout the year above 15,748 ft (4,800 m).
The warm temperate parts of this nature reserve contain a number of unique and rare plants, including a variety of orchid that is not found anywhere else in the world.
The many plants here are of diverse species and range from ornamental to flowering and even medicinal.
The area around this reserve is rich agricultural land and is also used as a grazing ground for livestock during the summer months.
In 1982, this area was listed as a state scenic site, and in 1987, it was provided with legal protection status by the provincial government of Sichuan.
The amazing formations and terraces of travertine, a type of limestone, and the waterfalls and lakes of this area, are extremely beautiful. For this reason, it was declared a World Heritage Site in 1992 by UNESCO.
This park is protected by a number of local and national laws and regulations of China. These include the Sichuan Provincial Regulation on World Heritage Protection and the Law of China on the Protection of Wildlife, among others. These help in the long-term management and conservation of this area.
In 2006, an administrative body known as the Huanglong World Heritage Property was set up, which also contributed to nature protection and scientific research.
Also, the data collected from surveys such as the Survey on Water Circulation System of Huanglong-Jiuzhaigou World Heritage Site, and others conducted between 2004 and 2007, have been used to formulate a database that helps in management activities.
The main issue in this area is the increasing number of visitors, pollution, and natural forest fires.
This area is deemed sacred by some religious groups such as the Taoist and the Lamaist. A Taoist temple, known as the Huanglong Back Temple, which is more than 600 years old, is located near the Five-Color Pool. A temple fair is held in the sixth lunar month every year, which is most often in the month of July.
People from the area, especially those of the Tibetan, Hui, Qiang and Han ethnic groups, attend the festivities and pray in the Back Temple. At this time, the patron saint of Huanglong, DaYu, is also worshipped. This legendary king has been credited with the irrigation systems and flood control measures that are used in the Chengdu plateau.
An ancient Ming dynasty temple can also be found here. This temple, known as the Huanglong Middle Temple, is a temple of Bon and was built during the Ming Dynasty. There are no ponds or pools, however, it is surrounded by untouched forests.
Another feature of the Ming era that can be found in this UNESCO site is the pair of stone pagodas that are located behind the Huanglong Temple. These are said to mark the burial place of the grandson of the founder of the Tang Dynasty. There are also quite a few legends and stories about this area in Tibetan culture.
The clear spring water of the Zhuanhua pond wells up in a continuous stream. Hence, if you were to throw leaves or flowers into it, they would swirl in rhythm with the water.
As this area is located about 10,500-11,800 ft. (3,200-3,600 m) above sea level, visitors to the area should be prepared for a bit of altitude sickness.
No vehicles are allowed in this protected area, and you need to use the paved walkway. A cable car system is also present. This way, visitors can take the cable car to the top and walk back to the foot of the valley or vise versa. Walking both ways is not recommended.
How was Huanglong formed?
A: The unique landscape of Huanglong Valley has been formed over many years due to glacier action, climate change, changes in geology, chemical reactions, and other factors. The unique features are mainly attributed to the presence of minerals like calcite. These deposits are the reason for the colorful hot springs.
Where is Huanglong Scenic And Historic Interest Area located?
A: Huanglong Valley is located in the northwest of Sichuan Province in China.
What is the significance of Huanglong's Scenic And Historic Interest Area?
A: Huanglong Valley, located in Sichuan Province, is a natural heritage site because of its limestone pools, virgin forest, and fascinating geographical and geological formations.
When and why was Huanglong Scenic And Historic Interest Area declared as a World Heritage Site?
A: Huanglong Valley was declared a World Heritage Site in 1992 by UNESCO. This area was declared a heritage site because of its outstanding beauty and unique limestone formations, which are one of a kind in Asia and among the three best examples of this feature in the world.
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