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Home Travel in Hubei Shennongjia

                    Shennongjia (神农架)

The Shennongjia (shénnóngjià 神农架) district in remote northwestern Hubei has the wildest scenery in the province. With heavily forested mountains of fir, pine and hemlock -including something rare in China, old-growth stands -the area is known as a treasure trove of more than 1300 species of medicinal plants. Indeed, the name for the area roughly translated as Shennong’s Ladder to commemorate a legendary emperor, Shennong (shénnóng 神农), who is believed to be the founder of herbal medicine and agriculture. According to the legend, he heard about some special plants growing up high on a precipice, so he cut down a great tree and used it to climb to the site and reach the plants, which he added to his medical collection.

Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey (金丝猴)As part of a more modern legend, Shennongjia is famous for the sightings of wild, ape-like creatures - a Chinese equivalent of the Himalayan Yeti or the North American Bigfoot. The stories are interesting, but the creatures seem to be able to distinguish between peasants and scientists -molesting the former and evading the latter. Nevertheless, there is a small base station set up in the reserve with displays of ‘evidence’ of sightings. More real, but just as elusive perhaps, are species of leopard, bear, wild boar and monkey, including the endangered Golden Snub-Nosed Monkey (jīnsīhóu 金丝猴), which reportedly inhabit the area.

Banbiyan (bǎnbìyán 板壁岩)
Banbiyan (板壁岩)Banbiyan (bǎnbìyán 板壁岩), 5 kilometres from Liaowang Tower (liàowàngtǎ 瞭望塔), is famous for its stone forest and for sightings of the so-called "wild man"(yěrén 野人), the Chinese Yeti. The bamboo that covers the mountain and plain makes a great hiding place for anyone wanting to hang out with Bigfoot.
At nearly 2,600 metres, the grassy meadows of Banbiyan frequently play host to a colorful festival of song and dance by the locals. Custom dictates that visitors are welcomed by song. Not quite The Sound of Music, but the spectacle is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

Shennong Peak (shénnóngdǐng 神农顶)
Shennong Peak (神农顶)The pyramid-sharp Shennong Peak (shénnóngdǐng 神农顶) covers an area of about 2 square kilometers, rising from the centre to China to a height of 3105 miters above sea level. Clouds often nestle at the summit where ridges stretch on into the distance. The area is covered by tiers of fir, bamboo and azalea. The firs, as tall as 40 meters, have dense leaves on branches that block off the sunlight. The azaleas blossom pink and violet in summer. The area is also home to some rare animals including the golden monkey, white bear and antelope.

Yanzidong (yànzǐdòng 燕子洞)
Yanziya (燕子垭)Halfway up a hill just east of Yanziya (yàzǐyà 燕子垭) lies Yanzidong (yànzǐdòng 燕子洞), a cave famous for its golden swallows. A short 50 meter climb up from the road leads to the entrance - the cave itself heads backwards into the mountain for more than 3 kilometers. One of the few swallows that doesn’t migrate seasonally, the golden swallow inhabits the cave all year round.
Standing inside the entrance, you will breathe in the damp air and watch steam rising from the walls, which gleam like glass. Above hang the birds‘ nests, warm and dry.
Outside the cave you can watch the swallows dancing in the air, and diving in and out of their dark home.

              Scene of Shennongjia (神农架风光)
Shennongjia Scenic Area
Location: Enshi (ēnshī 恩施), Northwest Hubei Province, China
Tickets: RMB 100

Foreigners are only allowed into the area of the Shennongjia district near the town of Muyuping (mùyúpíng 木鱼坪), 200km northwest of Yichang. There are two high peaks in the area, Shennongjia Moutain (shénnóngjiàshān 神农架山) at 3105m and Laojun Moutain (lǎojūnshān 老君山) at 2936m. It’s a 10-hour bus ride to Muyuping from Yichang, or you can take a boat to Xiangxi (xiāngxī 湘西) on the Three Gorges (sānxiá 三峡) and from there it’s a 90km ride to Muyuping. From Muyuping you will have to hire a car to get into the reserve.

Avoid travel to Yumuzhai during wet weather (eg during spring) as drevers will be loathe to traverse the road if it is muddy and you could be left high and dry. Public buses from Lichuan (lìchuān 利川) only go as far as Moudao (móudào 谋道), but Yumuzhai is a further 18km away; you could be stuck if unable to find a car from Moudao, so it could be preferabel to arrange a car from Lichuan.