Fanjingshan National Nature Reserve is a natural treasure in a country blessed with natural treasures. The mountain that gives the preserve its name is the tallest peak of the Wuling mountain range in China’s northeastern Guizhou province. At the right time, you can see a sea of clouds that seem tailor-made to inspire watercolors.
You can get up the mountain the easy way, by cable car, or you can do it the hard way, by climbing more than 8,000 steps.
Near the summit, you’ll see that Fanjingshan is an island of rock in the middle of a sea of karst. The ecosystem here is incredibly valuable — Fanjingshan has 13 percent of the entire country’s plant species. It’s also home to a vast number of animal species, some of which can only be seen in this area, like the Guizhou golden monkey.
Visit one of the main attractions here, the Mushroom Stone, named for its shape.
There’s a saying that the mountain’s spectacular scenery comes from nature, but that its fame comes from Buddhists. That’s because of all the temples Buddhists have built here over the centuries. In fact, the word “fanjing” means “pure land for Buddhists.”
If you’re fit enough and daring enough, head to the very top of the New Golden Summit. It’s a difficult climb up steep steps almost straight up more than 100 meters — but you’ll be rewarded with an astounding sight. The summit splits into two fingers near the top, with a temple on both peaks joined by a bridge. It’s an amazing blend of nature and engineering, and an amazing sight to cap your visit. (T)