Huanglong Natural Reserve – China’s Yellow Dragon
Huanglong Natural Reserve is a 3.2 kim. (2 mile) long valley, hidden deep in the northernmost extremity of Sichuan province in China. It is part of the Minshan Mountains and is covered by primitive forests which descend from 3578 meters (11739 ft.) to 3145 meters (10319 ft.) above sea level.
The valley is covered with a thick, yellowish layer of calcium carbonate which in turn creates a series of ponds of different shapes and sizes which come together and flow from one another in a terraced field. Huanglong has about 3400 such brightly colored ponds. The bacteria and algae produce the coloring in the mineral-rich waters and create different nuances of white, silver, orange, pink and blue.
Seen from the air, this limestone valley looks like a giant yellow dragon and the brightly colored ponds, its scales. Huanglong actually means “yellow dragon” in the Chinese language. There are a lot of other karst features to be found here – the many caves surrounding the area, together with these magnificent ponds, make this natural park into a true paradise on Earth.
Moreover, through Huanglong Natural Reserve flow Fujiang River‘s tributaries and we can find here many thermal springs which many say have healing properties due to the high content of minerals in their waters.
The region also finds itself at the intersection of four major floral regions (the sub tropical and tropical regions of the Northern Hemisphere, Eastern Asia and The Himalayas). This means a high concentration and mixture of plants in a relative small area of space. In fact the region is home to some 1500 species of plant life, many of which are endangered. Sixteen species of Rhododendrons exist here and all of them are on their way to becoming extinct.
We can also find a large number of endangered animals here as well. The Golden snub-nosed monkey for example, or the Asian black bear, leopards, Pallas’s cat, the Tibetan antelope or the giant Panda. The entire area is part of UNESCO World Heritage.