China is a very beautiful country that is naturally endowed with gorgeous natural attractions that can’t be found anywhere else. Most of them are found within China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. It is located in the central Hunan Province. Together with three other national parks, it’s part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area which was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.

A cliff path in Zhangjiajie
A cliff path in Zhangjiajie

The park’s major attractions include the pillar-like formations that are seen throughout the park, lush vegetation, unique sandstone pillars, pristine waters and a wide variety of flora and fauna. Others include the Puguang Temple which was constructed in 1413 and the Yuhuang Dong Rock Cave. The park’s more than 3,000 quartzite sandstone pillars with the height of more than 2,600ft, provided the visual inspirations seen in the bestseller film, Avatar. The pillars served as the alien worldly landscapes as seen in the movie.

Zhangjiajie’s Wildlife

A native Macaque monkey in Zhangjiajie Forest
A native Macaque monkey in Zhangjiajie Forest

The park has plenty of teeming wildlife that shelters in its dense rainforests. More than 115 animal species are living within the park, including the rare rhesus monkeys whose number is around 3,000. There are also macaque monkeys that skillfully jump from one tree to the other and are known to befriend the park’s tourists.

Other animals include the Chinese giant salamander that lives near the water streams. These feed on the small fish, crabs, shrimps and frogs from the water streams. You will also find pangolins which can dig deep holes in their mountainous habitats.

Birdlife in Zhangjiajie

In the park, you will find rare bird species that you won’t see anywhere else such as the Carrying water birds, which have beautiful multicolored feathers. They are called Carrying water birds due to their special bag-like organ under the beak for carrying water. They live on the tops of the park’s mountains and only fly to water streams to drink water. After a long drink, the birds use their carry bags to keep some water for future use.


The park is home to rare tree species like the Dove tree which is also known as the handkerchief tree. Its notable features include the reddish flowers that are about 2cm in size. Their flower heads have big white bracts at the base that work as petals. The flowers normally blossom in late May and early June. Their flappings in the wind gave them a nickname ‘handkerchief flowers’.

The unique Lobster flowers

Other plants include the lobster flowers which have attractive yellow and purple shrimp-shaped petals. These provide a great scenic view especially along the banks of the Golden Whip Stream. You will also encounter the Chinese-native chestnut trees. They grow up to more than 60ft. One mature tree can produce more than 50 pounds of big chestnuts that are very delicious. The park also has the Tangerines that have specifically been grown around this area for more than 2500 years. They are smaller than oranges and are very easy to peel and then split. They have a very sweet taste, more delicious than oranges.

More and more visitors continue to flock to Zhangjiajie National Park and last year, more than 30 million tourists visited the park. Last month, the park opened the longest glass bridge in the world but it also features the longest outdoor elevator in the world.

There are regularly scheduled flights to the park from Shanghai and Beijing on Air China, China Southern Airlines, and many others. Visiting this park during the upcoming summer will help you learn a lot about Chinese well-preserved natural habitats before it’s too late.