One of those Nat Geo moments...the micro-moments that matter in LIFE. I took this powerful image in Tianmenshan (Hunan Province, China) in August. That climb of exactly 978 steps to the top of the mountain is nothing short of a death-defying experience and not for the faint hearted...once you start, there is no going back. One slip of the foot and that could be the end of your climb. I was carrying a 12KG backpack (I had no choice) and I was, of course, exhausted...and I suppose this father had no choice either...I took a short rest and as I turned around I saw this to my amazement... this man was carrying his two kids and climbing without a stop for a rest....just remarkable...astonishing...quite risky as well...not sure what to think: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
Climbed Tianmenshan (4 hour punishing hike in the hot weather...never again...feet are burning...but what a way to get a six pack!!...)...never going to do that again...tough mountain to climb but spectacular views...in the middle you feel like giving up...but something inside you says "keep going!".
Tourists can walk on kilometres of paths built onto the cliff face at the top of the mountain, including sections with glass floors. An 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) road with 99 bends also reaches the top of the mountain and takes visitors to Tianmen cave, a natural hole in the mountain of a height of 131.5 metres (431 ft).
1. It is not as dangerous or scary as the media portrays it as. Everything is safe. If you do not wish to climb the cave, there are elevators that take you to the top (I only found out AFTER I hiked to the top with a 12KG bag behind my back!).
2. Allow a day to see the cave. Start in the morning at around 9am and finish by 4pm. One day is enough. The cost per person is RMB 250 at the time of writing.
3. Be prepared to walk. Wear good quality walking shoes.
The Cable Car
Tianmen Mountain Cableway is claimed to be the "longest passenger cableway of high mountains in the world", with 98 cars and a total length of 7,455 metres (24,459 ft) and ascent of 1,279 metres (4,196 ft). The highest gradient is an unusual 37 degrees.
It will take around a 3 to 4 HOURS wait for you to get onto the cable car (both directions, to go up and come down). It is much quicker if you take one of the free shuttle buses (price is included in the ticket). There is hardly a wait for the shuttle vans.
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Zhangjiajie is located in the heart of China's Hunan province. It comprises of the district of Yongding. Within it is located Wulingyuan Scenic Area which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 as well as an AAAAA scenic area by the China National Tourism Administration. The Hollywood film director found inspiration for his movie Avatar in Zhangjiajie.
The place is just something amazing...truly spectacular...just out of this world.
1. You can take flights to the tiny Zhangjiajie Airport from Shenzhen, Chengdu, Chongqing and a few other cities- best to book in advance because flights are limited (e.g. from Shenzhen it is one or two flights a week), and they only operate a tiny A320 aircraft here (with around 185 seats) so seats are limited and it can be expensive.
2. Hotels are relatively cheap, but during national day holidays may be expensive. There are hostels inside the national park; however, you may need to book in advance. Cost per night can be anything around 200 RMB (USD $40 per night).
3. The cost of entrance to the park at the time of writing was 245 RMB (approx. USD $50) for a 4 day pass (you can come and go back inside the park everyday).
4. Be prepared to walk a lot. There are free shuttle buses, but only between certain point and they can get very crowded - the rest of the time you will be hiking for hours. Also bear in mind the hot, sticky and humid weather. I had my backpack on me, so I hiked everywhere with 12KG on my back! It can be a good exercise but to climb up and then down constantly is not for you if you have not walked or are not in a position to walk for long period. It can and does get very tiring. Public toilets are available, but just bear in mind that they are not clean/maintained well, and usually you have to take your own tissue, soap (wet tissue) and water because toilets are not equipped like they are in the West.
5. If you can then take your own bottled water (and plenty of it!) before you enter the park. Outside the park you can get a water bottle for 2 RMB, but inside the park you can get it for 10 RMB.
The Bailong Elevator (Chinese: 百龙) is a glass elevator built onto the side of a huge cliff in the Wulingyuan area of Zhangjiajie, China that is 1,070 feet (330 m) high. On 16 July 2015 the elevator was officially recognised by Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest outdoor lift.: Photo Copyright Navjot Singh
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