Yunnan Ecotourism: A Short Hike to Explore the Fascinating Sights Beyond Lijiang City
By Lily Zhang
It’s been a long time since I’ve been outside the city of Lijiang (Yunnan, China) due to my work schedule, but today is a good day to spend some time outside the city, in nature, with friends. Our group enjoys spending time surrounded by the beauty and quiet of nature and we also enjoy hiking, but we only have one day so we planned to go to Wenhai village.
Wenhai village is located northwest of Lijiang city at the foot of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (Mount Satseto), the highest mountain in Lijiang. Picturesque Wenhai village is surrounded by big mountains and near a small lake in the middle of Wenhai plain. There are just about 240 families, 850 people, living in Wenhai village, including the Yi people who still adhere to traditional culture and lifestyle.
Jade Dragon Snow Mountain with few clouds in sunny morning from Wenhai (Photo by Lily Zhang)
We leave for Wenhai at around 9 in the morning, driving about an hour get to Wenhai’s Naxi village. On the way we stop to visit Fuguo Temple, a Tibetan Buddhist Temple, and the oldest and biggest temple in Lijiang. The elevation in Wenhai is about 3100 meters, higher than Lijiang city by about 700 meters; and just before we reach the village we can see Baisha, Lijiang Valley and Jade Dragon Snow Mountain.
Upon arriving at Wenhai, a beautiful landscape including a lake and peaceful village meet the eye; everything here looks so green and feels so fresh. There is a lot more water than I expected, and surrounding the lake, there is grassland dotted with colorful wildflowers and pigs, horses, goats and sheep.
During the summer time there are a lot of wild flowers in Wenhai (Photo by Lily Zhang)
We walk through the village to the Naxi home where we will have lunch. Few crops grow here, mainly potato, turnip and barley because of the altitude and weather. The main source of income is from collecting mushrooms and herbs in the summer, recently some families have also tried planting some medicinal herbs for sale.
After lunch, we start hiking to Xuehua Yi village which is about a 1 ½ hour hike along a nice path lined with native plants. On the way we look back at Wenhai Lake and village, and in the distance we can see a beautiful valley with Yi villages surrounded by high mountains.
When we reach the village we are very lucky to meet an old Yi lady, and are invited to visit her family. She is 83 years old, very healthy and really enjoys meeting and talking with people. She wears a traditional Yi dress with a big black hat, and has 10 children: 7 sons and 3 daughters, only three of her sons’ families live in the village; others are in Lijiang city or other Yi villages. She tells us a lot about her life experience and her culture. Our group really enjoyed meeting her and talking with her about Yi culture.
Yi lady from Xuehua village happily welcomes visitors (Photo by Eveline)
But because our time was limited, we were forced to begin our trek back. This was a great day in nature, as well as a wonderful opportunity to learn a bit about the culture of the people in this beautiful place.
Lily Zhang grew up in a small mountain village in China. Her love for all things nature and culture prompted her to try to find a way to protect those things she cherished most about her village while China was rapidly developing. She has been working for a community-based ecotourism project ever since and loves that it gives her the chance to hike, bike trek and meet interesting people.