We arrived in Zhangjiajie late Monday night and caught a taxi to the International Youth Hostel where we spent one night – it was very basic apparently soap, toilet paper, and towels are luxuries not included in the room price! The next day we caught a bus to the bus station and took a minibus to Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. We began our walk up the Golden Whip Stream Path with the end goal our hostel on the mountain (International Youth Hostel). It took us about 3.5 hours to reach the top. The beginning was simple enough but the paths were being terrorized by evil monkeys. Having experienced a few unfortunate run ins with monkeys before in Asia and having heard even more horror stories, Melissa and I tried our best to stay clear and get through this part as quickly as we could. Once we passed we started our ascent up what seemed like an endless amount of stairs. However, once we made it to the point where the tour buses let out, the paths became ridiculously busy and the extremely slow moving. Eventually we did make it to the world’s highest natural bridge, though due to the crowds we chose not to go stand on it. We found our hostel (which was mighty cold and a tad run down to be honest) and we had some instant noodles and a plate of vegetables and rested up. The next day we headed up higher and went to see the Southern Heavenly Gate. It was an awesome change how quite the paths were compared to the first day. I definitely would recommend spending a night or two up there! Typical industrialized China though, puts a McDonalds on top of a mountain… I don’t know why they feel the need to ruin nature sometimes. That evening, by recommendation of a fellow guest, we took a path behind the hostel which led to an awesome viewpoint of the natural bridge!
The next day, we got an early bus out and being a little bit on the late side as per usual we had to jog down the mountain. We did, however, take time to get a picture on the avatar as these are the mountains many think the movie was inspired by.