A newcomer to China's national parks, Dagu Glacier National Park (达古冰川) treats visitors to beautiful vistas of lakes and mountains dotted with Tibetan villages.
From the entrance of the park, you take a 40-minute bus ride to the base of the cable car that will carry you to the main attraction, the top of what is allegedly the world's lowest, largest, and youngest glacier.
If you go in October, you'll see the autumn leaves on the abundant trees in the valley along the way. Once you arrive at the cable car, you'll rapidly ascend 1,200 meters to the top of the glacier, where the view from 4,860 meters is spectacular.
On the way back down, you will have a chance to stop and get off the bus at any of the beautiful places you saw on the way up, allowing for a full day of enjoying nature.
Camping is permitted, free of charge, just outside the park entrance; toilets are available. Otherwise, most accommodation is located in the nearby Luhua town in Hei Shui county (黑水县芦花镇) and ranges from dingy motels to a soon-to-open five-star hotel. Although it's slightly more expensive, I would recommend staying at an all-inclusive homestay. Dream Guesthouse seems to be one of the few budget accommodations in the town with English-speaking staff. For RMB150 per night per person, the guesthouse provides room, board, and transportation to anywhere in the area.
Hei Shui itself is a quiet little place, but makes a great jumping point for further exploration of the area. All around, there are beautiful villages and valleys; to get to many of these, you'll need to hire a car or taxi. English-language signs and speakers do not abound in the area, so make sure you bring along a pocket dictionary if you don't speak Chinese.
Wear layers, as at the top of the glacier you'll be surrounded by ice and snow, but walking at lower altitudes in the park, you'll quickly warm up. Sunglasses and sunscreen are also advised because the glare can be strong, and allow your body time to acclimate to the altitude change. If you do get sick, there is a medical station at the top of the glacier that provides oxygen.
Ticket fees for individuals during peak season is RMB508 (200 entrance, 88 bus, 220 cable car), and approximately RMB350 per person in groups of 10. Entrance drops to RMB80 between November 16 and March 31.
Buses from Chengdu's Chandianzi station take approximately 7 hours to arrive at Hei Shui.
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