If you ever wanted to live inside a Maxfield Parrish painting, then book the next flight to China. Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is simply one of the most ethereal places on Earth.
These staggering karst spires inspired the film “Avatar” and you have to see them in person to see why. (I may or may not have turned myself into an Avatar a few years ago.)
For details on how to get there, where to stay, and how to get around, see my post, Climbing Avatar Mountain. In my last post, you saw the mountains from a breathtaking canyon below. However, these photos are the view from the top of Tianzi Mountain.
The sprawling park has a ton of lookouts, each more unbelievable than the last. My favorite part? The wild and mischievous macaques, of course! If you’ve ever been around these monkeys, you know how kleptomaniacal they are. It was fun to watch them steal food from the unsuspecting tourists. They roam the park freely, and if you ask me, have the best monkey gig in the world. I watched them for hours, navigating the peaks, grooming and playing.
Other notable park features are Bailong Elevator, the world’s highest and heaviest outdoor elevator at 1,070 feet. There’s also a natural land bridge, which I photographed but did not traverse due to the tourist crowding.
Learn more about all these attractions at China Highlights, which I recommend for photography tours or a complete tour package if you don’t want to navigate on your own.
Be sure to read my 7 Things You Need to Know About China Travel. Stay tuned for a photography guide to shooting landscapes including some little-known Photoshop tips. I’m also working on a travel film. Check out my last travel film, The Sound of Iceland.