When it comes to big-time player China, we are all too often swept up by images of teeming metropolises and industrial epicenters. A land full of immense contrasts, China’s natural resources have, throughout the country’s turbulent history, often been abused and misused in the name of development.
In recent years, however, there has been a shift in China. A growing awareness of just how rich, and fragile, a number of the country’s ecosystems are. With this new appreciation has come an increasing number of nature reserves being established. These reserves protect incredible cultures and biodiversity and are well worth a visit with WildChina. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Yading Nature Reserve
This reserve tucked away in western Sichuan could not feel any further removed from China’s megacities. Yading boasts a jaw-droppingly gorgeous alpine landscape and an abundance of wildlife. From snow-capped peaks to dense forests, and clear lakes to rich meadows, this is an area that has been protected from the fast-paced world outside.
With over 200 species of animals and 1,115 types of plants, the Yading Nature Reserve is a thriving biosystem recognised by UNESCO, that offers spectacular hiking opportunities.
Baili Azalea Nature Reserve
Head to northwestern Guizhou and be met by the astounding blanket of pinks, purples, dark reds and creamy whites all found here in the Baili Azalea Nature Reserve. If what you are looking for is bright and diverse flora, this reserve has it in buckets full.
The reserve is home to the largest rhododendron forests in the world and as such, it has become a haven for a number of rare bird species. More accessible than some of China’s other reserves, and therefore more frequently visited, the Baili Azalea Nature Reserve has followed a number of protection laws that allow only the construction of eco-leisure resorts.
Towering trees and limestone caves are equally featured in this nature reserve, making it a perfect destination for ancient adventures and nature appreciation.
Hoh Xil Nature Reserve
One of our recent favorites, Qinghai’s Hoh Xil Nature Reserve is a truly spectacular and unforgiving wilderness, set thousands of metres above sea level. This reserve is home to a number of species that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Its high altitude means that fortunate visitors to this region are at the mercy of Mother Nature, and you can, therefore, expect sub-zero temperatures at night all year round. You will, however, be justly rewarded with astounding sights of wild yaks and Tibetan antelope to name but a few of the mammals that roam these expansive and spectacular plains.
Laohegou Land Trust Reserve
For animal lovers, the Laohegou Nature Reserve is an absolute must, spanning Sichuan’s Pingwu County and featuring the famous snub-nosed monkey, Asian cats, as well as other exciting and rare animals such as the takin- an animal quite indescribable for its unusual mix in appearance between a goat and an antelope.
Conservation projects are in full swing in Laohegou, promoting forest-friendly livelihoods and eco-friendly agriculture (the Paradise Foundation is well worth checking out!). Oh, and not to forget, Laohegou also has the highest density of wild pandas in the world. Ask your WildChina travel designer about planning an educational panda-tracking tour in Laohegou.
Dujiangyan Panda Reserve
Speaking of pandas, no list of China’s top nature reserves would be complete without a mention of the Dujiangyan Panda Reserve, also found in Sichuan, just 55km from the buzzing city of Chengdu. Set over 126 hectares, this reserve has everything needed for the care, rescue, rehabilitation and training of the nation’s cuddly superstar.
Being spread over such a large area, the reserve is able to care for a large number of pandas whilst minimizing the risk of disease and optimising research opportunities. As well as this, Dujiangyan can almost be seen as the passport control for pandas, with every single panda that comes in, or out of China being held here for a period of quarantine. This area is also said to be where the origins of Taoism can be found, allowing you to soak up some spiritual history all while getting a heart-warming panda squeeze; what more could you ask for?
When it comes to the environment, China often gets somewhat of a bad reputation, yet we believe times are indeed changing. These nature reserves are prime examples of the stunning nature and rich wildlife still aplenty. Join WildChina and soak in some of these serene landscapes, taking home unforgettable memories of China’s rare and wonderful flora and fauna.