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The other GuangdongBy Pierre Mercan (China Daily)
Mount Danxia is a geological wonder created by sandstones and cliffs.

When you mention Guangdong province, many people think first of the Pearl River Delta region's sprawling metropolis. But the province is also home to unique and beautiful landscapes.

The City of Shaoguan, located in the north of the province, is a good base from which to discover at least three scenic spots - and along the way to learn about the unique geography of the area and the cultures of its minority groups.

Unfortunately, it is a little tricky for a foreigner to get access to information about scenic spots in China. Detailed provincial guides are non-existent, and most tourism websites are in Chinese. This means any trip will require careful advance planning.

Daxiagu, also known as "Guangdong's Grand Canyon", is an ideal place to discover the natural splendor of some of the province's last remaining wilderness. When I made a visit recently, a friendly park worker told me that park staff had gone to great pains to build a reservoir to keep the waterfall active all year long. He also said, proudly, that many graceful cranes had spent the previous winter there. (Cranes are rare birds, and the number of suitable winter spots available for them is limited.)

One of the park's main attractions is a circuit path that consists of an upper canyon-viewing path and a lower canyon hike. The two are linked by a long stairway of some 1,000 steps. Observing waterfalls, ferns and wildflowers along the way can turn the hike into an endless discovery. The canyon is quite deep, plunging down through layers of sandstone that have interesting pinkish and reddish hues.
Along the road to Ruyuan, you will pass some scenic mountains. As you climb in elevation, you are likely to discover marvelous and distinct flora and fauna. Nature lovers should enjoy a hike here. Sometimes, unfortunately, bad weather can cause landslides on the main road and cause the park to be closed. This is especially true during the summer, when heavy rains can delay your journey.

When I reached Ruyuan, I decided to go to Mount Danxia, the most famous scenic spot in the area. It's been designated a UNESCO Geopark, famous for its unique range of hills dotted by sandstones and cliffs. The surrounding scenery consists of rivers, lakes, bamboo groves and some temples. Every step of the way brings a different view. The park also has much unique geology. Each type of stone has evolved in a different way, giving the landscape a distinct look.

Guilin is laden with lime and karst, while Mount Danxia, located at the same latitude, is known for its sandstone. The elevation of the hills is about the same, but their shapes are completely different.

In addition to hiking, you can also rent a boat to see the mountains from the lake.

The entire wilderness region is only four hours by train from the province's well-known metropolis. A visit provides an interesting alternative to the overcrowded southern seashores. Enjoying its easygoing trails, relaxing scenery and good food are excellent ways to revive your energy and your spirits.

(China Daily 10/02/2008 page10)
source: Xinhua News Agency

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