Want to see the real Avatar land? Check out this place!

Located in the Western part of the Chinese province of Hunan, in the close proximity of Zhangjiajie City, Wulingyuan Scenic Area gained the international reputation as the main inspiration for the creators of the world-famous movie ‘Avatar’, with its magnificent forest of karst rock formations, standing out proudly in the lush woods.

Although a bit sceptical at first, trying not to fall too much for this cliche, very soon I’ve realized that the term ‘Avatar Land’ is indeed the highly appropriate one. The scenery of Wulingyuan Scenic Area is literally out of this world, with gorgeous isolated rocky peaks scattered all around the place. ‘Wow!’ is by far the most common reaction of most of the visitors admiring the beauty of this fabulous natural landscape.

Wulingyuan Scenic Area comprises of three major parts, arguably the most spectacular being Zhangjiajie Forest Park. The park is relatively easy to get around, however the map will definitely come handy. The ticket price (248RMB for three days, 143RMB with a student discount, 7 days ticket also available for 300 RMB) includes the unlimited use of the park buses.

Regarding the accommodation, one budget option worthy a try is Yuanjiajie Zhongtian International Youth Hostel, located in the middle of the park. Although the living conditions are rather basic, the hostel is a good base for making trips around the park, without the need to leave the park boundaries.
The hostel might be quite tricky to find, hence when arriving in Zhangjiajie City, it’s definitely worthy buying a cheap park map in the sister hostel – Zhangjiajie Zhongtian International Youth Hostel. (which is also a quite decent and affordable place to spend a night or two).
Both hostels have got very similar names, therefore make sure which one are you booking!

Yuan-jiajie – that’s the one in the park.
Zhang-jiajie – the one in the city.

Another tricky thing is the fact that there are 3 different places which bear the name Zhangjiajie: the city (with the train station), the village immediately next to one of the park gates and finally, the forest park. When making any accommodation or transport arrangements, make sure that you know which one you are talking about. For the best efficiency, staying overnight in Zhangjiajie Village located at the park entrance is an option worthy recommendation, just before the actual visit.

Enough talking! Let’s have a look at what the park has got to offer and what fell in the range of my camera lense:

 

Cable cars are present in a few spots, providing a comfortable and very scenic way to get to the top, or like in my case – to reach the ground level.

Some rock formations have quite catchy names:

If you feel really tired and don’t mind shelling out a few hundred bucks, you can hire someone to carry you to the view points in these sedan chairs.

Finally, you can also try a more spectacular way to get to the upper areas. Take a ride on the Bailong Elevator (百龙电梯) which with its 330m height is currently claimed to be highest outdoor elevator in the world.

 

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