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Home Travel in Yunnan Yuanmou Soil Forest
Yuanmou Soil Forest
Travel in Yunnan

The Soil Forest in Yuanmou (yuán móu tǔ lín 元谋土林), located in Yuanmou County (yuán móu xiàn 元谋县), Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture (chǔ xióng yí zú zì zhì zhōu 楚雄彝族自治州), is one of the most splendid soil forests in China, covering an area of 50 square kilometers. It was formed by geological movement and soil erosion one or two million years ago. It is named for its shape like immense forest and the main composition of the expansion earth. The representative landscape of the Soil Forest is distributed to Xinhua (xīn huá 新华), Banguo (bān guǒ 班果), Wanbao (wān bǎo 弯保) and the Tiger Leaping Beach (hǔ tiào tān 虎跳滩). The forest in these areas has distinctive features. Some are grand and spectacular, some are sharp and scraped, and others are of various shapes, like the waking lion, the tiger, the Roman Catholic Church, the Yuanmon Man (yuán móu rén 元谋人) and so on.

The whole landscape of the Earth Forest in Yuanmou is mainly castle, screen, curtain and column, including the highest about 40 meters and very grand. Looked at closely, the shapes look like persons and animals highly realistic and animated among them.

Banguo Soil Forest

tulin2The Banguo Soil Forest (bān guǒ tǔ lín 班果土林) is the largest in the Yuanmon soil forest area and is spread over an area of about 14 km2. Banguo Soil Forest is situated in the township of Pingtian (píng tián xiāng 平田乡) and is 18 km from the Yuanmon County and located close to the Shahe River (shā hé 沙河). The forest represents the aged residual hills within the soil forest which have the average height of 3 meters to 8 meters. The highest location in the forest is around 12 meters.

The Banguo Soil Forest was created due to soil erosion and geological movements around two million years ago. The shapes in the forest look like immense forests. The main component here is earth, which is why it is named as the earth forest. Along with the Stone Forest (shí lín 石林) and the Luliang Colorful Sand Forest (lù liáng cǎi sè shā lín 陆良彩色沙林), the Banguo Soil Forest is called Yunnan’s Three Forests. The entire landscape in Banguo Soil Forest are mainly column, curtain, screen and castle. The shapes are very grand and majestic and they look like animals and people when observed closely.

tulin3Banguo Soil Forest is well known for its bizarre landscape. The landscape is distributed mainly on both side of the Zhigou (zhī gōu 支沟) and Great Sandy Qing (dà shā qìng 大沙箐) with different order, density and shapes. The heights of the hills is around 5 meters to 15 meters and the highest peak is at 16.8 meters in height. These hills or columns of earth are shaped like a city of castles.

The earth hills in Banguo Soil Forest are distributed very sparsely. Individual hills here are well developed while groups of hills are not very common to find. The main tourist route in this area is along the Shahe River and is around 3800 meters in length. There are over 20 branches for visitors to explore. In the Banguo Soil Forest, the ground is covered with gray, fine and thick sand which also makes it a suitable location for playing sports.

Xinhua Soil Forest

Xinhua Soil Forest (xīn huá tǔ lín 新华土林) is located 33 kilometers west of the Yuanmon County in the Xinhua Town (xīn huá xiāng 新华乡), about 15 kilometers away from the Banguo Soil Forest, covering an area of 8 square kilometers. The soil hills here are dense and grand, with all kinds of shapes especially the conical ones. These hills are well developed and the average height is about 8-25 meters. The highest part can reach 42.8 meters.

tulin4Color of the Xinhua soil forest is very rich. For example, the top of the soil hills are usually amaranth while the middle part are gray and the bottom are yellow. Looking from the distance, you will feel as if you are walking into some magnificent palaces. Walking among the soil hills you will feel as if you are touring through a beautiful gallery. A horseback ride through this landscape is highly recommended, for although the color of the rocks is monotonous, the sharp angles and shapes create strong shadowy contrasts, very good for photography. Hares and wild birds are seen here and there in the forest too.

The vegetation of the soil hills here are good too. Several small water reservoirs can be found around the Forest and there are winding brooks going through the hills too. Sometimes wild birds, hares and other small animals can be seen. It is a good place to enjoy the nature.

Tiger Leaping Beach Soil Forest

tulin5So far Tiger Leaping Beach Soil Forest (hǔ tiào tān tǔ lín 虎跳滩土林) is one of the most developed soil forest in the area, covering 2.3 square kilometers. It is located at the Wumao Township (wù mào xiāng 物茂乡). Therefore it is also called Wumao Soil Forest. On the whole, soil forest here is of the shape of the castle or the folding screen, or the window shade. The average height of the soil is 10 to 15 meters, and the highest is 27 meters. Looking at the forest from a high place in the distance, you will find it covered with dongas and ravines, displaying a sense of roughness and desolation, like an abandoned castle. Looking at it from a close site, you will find it like grand groups of soil sculpture.

Most of the scenic spots are distributed along the dried river bed from east to west with a length of 1500 meters. There are some branch river beds lying at each side, totaling 4300 meters. Colorful gravels and yellow fine sands cover the surface of the soil.

Transportation and Accommodation

Yuanmou is about 200 kilometers from Kunming. You can take train (No. 66, No. 548) there, or you can take regular bus at the bus station in Kunming.

There is nowhere to stay at the forest, but Yunmou itself has quite a few options with beds from 25 to 50 yuan.


tulin6(1) The best time to visit the soil forest is from November to the following March as the weather will be warm and dry here. If it is rainy, the road will be too muddy and cause problems. In April to May, when it is hot and dry, the sunny days offer great opportunities for photography. From June to October, it often rains here and the soil hills are soft and weak, which is not good news for the visitors.

(2) It is extremely important to take a compass to locate the directions in the soil forest. Make certain obvious marks at the parting of the ways so that you may have a way to look back. Banguo and Xinhua Soil Forest belong to the depopulated area, in which there are no residents. So, tourists had better keep in a group and do not go out all alone. If you are lost in the soil forest, walk from the narrow parts to the wider ones, and it will be easier for you to find the main path.

(3) It is quite dangerous to climb up the soil hills especially during the rainy season. Even when it is dry, visitors should choose these hills with slow slopes and go up from the places of shrubs and bushes.

(4) It is recommended that visitors may tour the soil forest either in the morning or late in the afternoon since the temperature of the soil may rise high at noon. Sometimes temperature in a day may differ 10-15℃. It is extremely hot at noon and relative cool and comfortable in the morning and late in the afternoon.

(5) Visitors had better take on long boots since there are too many soft fine sands on the ground.

(6) Recommended time for a visit: about two days.