Visiting the Home of Avatar – Zhangjiajie Mountains
Guest Post by Alex – Alex contributes to My 30s Travel Blog.
If you’ve ever see Avatar you can assume that the mountains are computer generated out of the imagination of a graphic designer and although this is the case they are actually based on a range of mountains in China called the Zhangjiajie mountains.
Arriving at the closest airport to the Zhaingjiaje Mountains I was dumped into a half covered building that leads pretty much to a parking lot with buses and taxis. As you’d expect in a small town in China very few people spoke a word of English so I’d recommend mapping out your journey before you arrive and bringing notecards with important messages written in Chinese. Such as “Where is the bus station?”, “Where is the airport?” – that way when in doubt you can pass them over to someone and you can get directions through a series of pointing movements and charades. Alternatively you could opt to book a guide to avoid any language issues and to ensure you see the best views of the Zhangjiajie Mountains.
I found that while it’s possible to spend two days and one night hiking up the Zhangjiajie Mountains, a third or even a fourth day is better should you have the time. Regardless of how long you stay don’t pack any fruit because you will be attacked by monkeys. I didn’t listen to this advice on my hike and I quickly learned the hard way that it is not a good idea!
To get to the mountains is about a 30 minute drive but if you don’t have a car it can be a lot more of a challenge. You can take the city bus to the train station then from the train station get in another bus that will take you up to the mountains. Only takes about an hour or so to get there this way.
The mountains are unlike anything that I have ever seen; these massive structures protrude out of the ground in the strangest formation. They are all massively tall but incredibly skinny oval shaped formations. Each mountain almost appears to be floating as its own individual cylinder. The climate there also creates a mystic atmosphere that adds to the experience. There is a large amount of fog in the mountain which adds to the mystic environment.
When I entered the mountains the initial entrance was very well paved and marked but as I got further into the mountains it is not marked as well. There are many different trails to pick from which will depend on how much you have time for but as you go further into the mountains the trails become much less developed so you have to make sure you follow maps closely.
Depending on which trail is chosen there will be either a ride in one of several ski-lifts or a glass floored elevator within the park. Both allow you have amazing views of the mountains. The view from above allow you to see the mountains from the top so you can see their tall slim shapes as you pass over them from above. The Zhangjiajie Mountains are truly like no other mountain range in the world and offer unique astonishing views.