Discover solitude at the Yading Nature Reserve
Daocheng County recently became the home to the highest altitude airport in the world, standing more than 14,000 feet above sea level. The Sichuan province's tourism office hopes it will bring some more travelers to the heavily Tibetan-influenced region of China. For travelers taking a trip to Tibet or China, a must-see is the Yading Nature Reserve, a quiet, stunning and little-traveled park known for its natural and pristine splendor.
A beauty beyond compare
Its beauty cannot be emphasized enough, though tourist offices and travel writers have certainly tried. The area was first made known to Westerners as recently as 1928 when Joseph Rock wrote about it effusively in National Geographic. It has since then been referred to as the Last Pure Land on the Blue Planet and the Last Shangri-La, though the latter title, spawned from a 1930s novel by James Hilton, has been contested by a flood of countries from Nepal to Bhutan.
The land is populated with forests, grasslands, rivers, mountains and lakes. The three mountains of the region together form the three holy peaks, purportedly blessed by Buddha Padmasambhava in the 8th century. These snow-capped peaks are truly breathtaking, and a perfect complement to the low-lying holy waters of the region.
There are three holy lakes, each of which take on a stunning hue and reflection. The Milk Lake is glacier-fed, and will take a bright green hue due to the Jampelyang ice that feeds it. The Five-Color Lakes will shift from green to light and dark blue depending on the light it is reflecting.
The Pearl Lake is perhaps the most fitting lake for the reserve, a quiet, reflective body of water that holds up a pristine mirror to the sacrosanct surroundings.