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Yuanmou Earth Forest, God’s Forgotten Shrine

Yunnan boasts four forests: Stone Forest, Xishuangbanna Rainforest, Luliang Sand Forest and Yuanmou Earth Forest(元谋土林). Stone Forest, nature’s playground of limestone rocks, has been ratified as a UNESCO world heritage, while Yuanmou Earth Forest, the wonderland of clay formations, guards her elusive splendor in a low-key way during the past 1.5 million years. Though skipped over by most travel books, this site appeals to those curious photographers and hikers. The Promise(Master of the Crimson Armor,无极) and Riding Alone for Thousands of Years(千里走单骑), two Chinese movies directed by Zhang Yimou in 2005, have contributed to introduce this lesser-known place to the public.
yuanmou earth forest movieyuanmou earth forest movie
Yuanmou Earth Forest is the setting for Movie: The Promise and Riding Alone for Thousands of YearsMovie: The Promise

Plunging into this hidden world, you will be bewitched by the spectacular clay formations, which project from the ground abruptly and glisten like yellow crystals. Coming in overwhelming quantities, they vary in shapes, heights and volumes. Seen separately, each is a piece of artwork with indescribable charm. Viewed as a whole, they form an intricate maze imbued with mysterious air and sublime beauty. From those ingenious minds, they prefer to picture Yuanmou Earth Forest as a dilapidated golden monastery, a desolate gothic church or a giant shrine impaired by fierce bombardments.
yuanmou earth forest

When bathed in the sunshine, these clay columns will dash out sparkling rays, which is a rare phenomenon. Hence, locals tend to compare it to China’s clay version of Parthenon. At twilight, these cute columns will define the skyline with gothic silhouettes, which look like ghostly phantoms and the fairyland will be reduced to a hellish territory. Great courage is needed to observe and even walk along them.
yuanmou earth forest

To enjoy the zenith of Yuanmou Earth Forest’s beauty, you need to go up high. Take a bird’s-eye view, you will see the meandering Longchuan river, a tributary of Jinsha river (one upstream of Yangtze River), flows by like a silver ribbon, with its west bank embellished with attention-grabbing golden patchworks, among which Banguo Earth Forest, Tiger Leaping Shoal Earth Forest, Wanbao Earth Forest, Xiaoleizai Earth Forest and Xinhua Earth Forest, are main quarters. In no exception, they span more than 5km2.
yuanmou earth forest

According to shapes and formation process, Yuanmou Earth Forest’s clay formations fall into four categories: Earth Bud Style, Castle Style, Bamboo Shoot Style and Mushroom Style. Small in size, Earth Bud Style clay formations serve as the forerunner of other types. Those of Castle Style are larger and usually measure 2 to 5 meters high. However, under the joint forces of water erosion and gravity, they fall easy prey to collapse. The sand-clay Bamboo Shoot Style columns are the most impressive, which tower 5 to 10m above the ground like giant bamboo shoots. Mushroom Style is the most common one. Years of erosion will wash away the mud, while minerals will deposit to form solid layers. These layers play great role to shield the columns from weathering.
Hutiaotan Earth Forest(Wumao Earth Forest, Yuanmou Earth Forest)
Along the dried river bed measuring 1500m-long and 10-m to 40-m wide, clusters of yellow earth columns thrust themselves into the sky. 100m away there is a 300-m deep valley decoratd with waterfalls, streams and rocks.

Banguo Earth Forest
Covring 14km2, it is the largest scenic site of this resort. With height raging from 5m to 16 m, earth formations here adopt various shapes such as castles, pagados and swords and sparkle like diamonds. (this site is not develped for tourism yet, and there is no tourist service center or dining and accomodation facilities,you have better join a tour or hire a local guide here. )

Xinhua Earth Forest

Located in Xinhua Township, 33km west of Yuanmou County, Chuxiong, Xinhua Earth Forest lures photographers for the densely distributed, most complete and highest earth columns. The majority measures 3m to 27m high, while the tallest towers 42.8m above the ground, which is a mind-nimbling sight. Several streams run through Xinhua Earth Forest, so you can chance upon hares and birds along its lush-wooded slopes. It is fringed with dozens of lakes. It if fun to capture earth foret along water edge.
(Notice: Banguo Earth Forest and Xinhua Earth Forest are not developed for tourism yet, hence you need to rent a van or drive there...)
yuanmou earth forest

Location: Luoxing Village, Wumao Township, Yuanmou County, Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture(云南省楚雄彝族自治州元谋县物茂乡罗兴村)

Admission Fee: 80¥

Operation hour: 8:00am to 18:00pm
Travel Time: Novermber to May
From June to October, it is rainy season here, and Yuanmou Earth Forest will be shut off from tourists.

Get in: Kunming--20km--Yuanmou County---6km---Yuanmou Earth Forest:

Step One: Kunming to Yuanmou County:

<<<<<Train K114(Kunming to Chengdu), which leaves at 12:38 from Kunming and arrives in Yuanmou County at 16:32. Fee: 40¥

<<<<<Train 6162
(Kunming to Panzhihua), which leaves at 7:43am and arrives at Huangguayuan Stop at 15:27pm. It is the closest point to Yuanmou Earth Forest; you will reach it in no time.

<<<<<Bus: 25¥ Time on the road: 7 hours

Step Two: Yuanmou County----Yuanmou Earth Forest:

<<<<<Take a bus time : depart time: 9:20am    15:30pm   time needed: 30 minutes   
Ride a horse: 15 to 20¥    
Rent a mini van: 20¥

Get in: Chuxiong to Yuanmou County: regular bus every day  140km   4 hours on the road

Author: Sophia    Posted on April 2, 2013 
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