The Pearl Shoal

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A wide and gently sloping area

Jiuzhaigou in Chinese literally translates as ‘Valley of Nine Villages’ and it is an amazing nature reserve and national park situated in the northern part of Sichuan province, China. It was inscribed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and recognized as a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997.

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Spectacular view of the Pearl Shoal with the Minshan Mountain range in the background

Jiuzhaigou valley is part of the Minshan Mountains which lie on the fringe of the Tibetan Plateau covering over 72000 hectares.

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An area of active tufa deposits covered by a thin sheet of water

This nature reserve comprises a diverse forest ecosystem and high altitude karsts formed by hydro and glacial activity and tectonic plate shifts. Positioned near the fault lines of the Qinghai-Tibet Plate and the Yangtze Plate, earthquakes have also played a significant part in shaping the landscape.

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Minshan Mountains provide the catchment area for the water system in Jiuzhaigou

Jiuzhaigou is known for its many multi-levelled limestone waterfalls, colourful lakes and snow-capped mountains that range in altitude from 2000 to 4500m above sea level.

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Water that flows endlessly

Even in the thick of Winter, the water continues to flow endlessly in Jiuzhaigou as the high mineral concentration prevents it from freezing. The climate here is subtropical to temperate and the average temperature is 7 deg Celsius but it can drop to -3 deg in January and rise to a high of 18 deg Celsius in July. 80% of the rainfall occurs in May and October.

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Gently sloping downwards, the water gathers momentum

It is interesting how the water flowing over the tufa formations resemble a sea of shiny pearls. This is probably how this area got it’s moniker, The Pearl Shoal.

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A surprise awaits as the Board Walk continues to hug the cliff side

Just 10 mins into our journey on the Board Walk that was carefully built over the Pearl Shoal, we started on a steep descent and we caught a side view of the waterfall.

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The Pearl Shoal Waterfall unfurls

This fantastic waterfall stands at an altitude of 2,433m, spans about 162.5m and plunges some 40m in a broad curtain of water.

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Tumbling down in great torrents

As the water empties from the Pearl Shoal into the ravine below in a mighty crash, the splash creates a cloud of tiny water droplets akin to rain. If you stand at the bottom of the falls without an umbrella or raincoat long enough, you would be soaking wet!

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The Pearl Shoal Waterfall in all it’s glory!

This impressive waterfall has been used in various films, most notably a scene from the television adaptation of “Journey to the West”. With the natural misty sprays of water, a surreal and mystical effect is created and it really is a fantastic site for epic sword fighting Chinese Kungfu type movies.

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Minshan Mountains

The entire walk could be enjoyed leisurely in 45mins unless like me, you too like to pause now and then to capture some brilliant photo worthy moments!

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