Jagged little Jungle

During our first year in China, we visited Kunming for a short trip, but sadly never made it to the stone forest when we were there. Instead, we saw The West Hills, which was spectacular in its own way.

It was a lovely day spent up high, surrounded by trees and beauty.

I’d always regretted not seeing the stone forest, so we planned it into this trip. The Stone Forest is a geological formation that was created about 270 million years ago. It started at the bottom of a lake, and gradually, wind and water carved this limestone into what it is today.

And today, it’s beautiful!
I got this shot just as we entered the park. The little boy was quite far away from the stones, but it can still see the way they tower over him.
This entire area was the product of nature. Is amazing what a bit of rain and water can do!!

The Stone Forest is an easy day trip from Kunmimg city. We booked tickets at the wrong train station, which added an hour to our journey, but if you take the high speed train from Kunmimg Station, which is centrally located, it only takes 60 minutes to get to Xilin, the closest station to the park. From there, take bus 99 for about an hour, until you reach the Stone Forest.

There are a few packages that include circus and dolphin shows and I was prepared to put up a fight if they tried to push us into paying for them (#emptythetanks!!!!), But it wasn’t actually even mentioned to us.  In total, it cost less than 100rmb per person to see the park, including the shuttle bus to the entrance gate.

The Greater Stone Forest is a labyrinth. We walked around for several hours, climbing up and down, checking out all the different viewpoints. Some sections of the park made me feel quite claustrophobic. The formations are so high and the paths are quite narrow in those parts.

I didn’t get pictures in the worst parts because I just wanted to get out. Picture this, but not being able to see the other side…. Just a never ending path that gets much more narrow in some parts.

We saw some really cool stuff in the stone forest, including some beautiful birds, cacti, and greenery.

We walked through the park, of course, and took our time appreciating all the lovely things there is to see. It was pretty warm by the time we made it to the other side, and we were pretty tired from all the walking, so we decided to take the shuttle back to the front of the park. We realized on the shuttle that we were surrounded by people who had never actually gone into the park. They ‘oohed’ and ‘ahhhed’ at some of the more basic formations. It’s good to know that people with disabilities can still see the park this way, but if you have the choice, definitely go in!

We were quite high up in this part of the park. We had to climb a lot of jagged rocks to get to the viewpoint. There were other viewpoints that were surely more accessible, but they were also crowded so we avoided them.
This was my favorite shot in the minor stone forest. This part of the park isn’t as grand as the major stone forest, but it certainly has some beautiful areas.
I loved the contrast between plant and stone.

The only complaints I had were the crowds, and the incessant notices that kept blasting all over the park. It felt like it could be such a peaceful place, if the space were just respected more. Instead, there was a lot of the usual Chinese tourism stuff: screaming children, adults shouting at each other from across the park and incessant announcements reminding everyone to be “safe”.

It looks empty because I’m patient and will wait for an area to empty so I can get a photo (and I’m quick, so I get it before others come along), but it was really quite crowded.

I did like the Stone Forest a lot, but I don’t think I’d dare go there during peak season. I’m sure it’s pure mayhem.

At least there doesn’t seem to be too much damage from tourism. The park is well maintained.

Next up, I have some posts about lovely Lijiang, which is also in Yunnan! Check back soon!

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