Trip to Jiuxiang Cave, Kunming, China

About 11:30, Oct 10, 2013 we met our driver in the parking lot after a morning in Shilin Stone Forest, Kunming, China. Our next visit was to be Jiuxiang Cave in the Yiliang Jiuxiang Scenic Area about 40 miles north. The boat ride and observation walkway, implying good size, were the reasons we chose to visit Jiuxiang Cave. I used a satellite application and located the elevator, the waters entrance and exit through the mountain and the rivers course into the Chaishitan Reservoir to the south. My previous cave experience was in the Appalachian Mountains of Virginia and the Sequoia National Park in California.

Yiliang Jiuxiang Scenic Area, Kunming, China
  • Jiuxiang Cave EntranceTicket purchase and the fun begins.

About an hour later we pulled into the parking lot at Jiuxiang Cave. Just inside the entrance you are presented with a decision: Walk or Ride. The stairs to the right switch back and forth eventually dropping about 200' to the bottom of the gorge. Stay left, like we did, and ride the elevator to the bottom. At this spot in the gorge they have built a controlled flow facility so you can take a short boat ride upstream. Once inside the mouth of the cave, you will lose sight of the river, and face steps that climb about 30 feet to the first cavern. Now you are on the floor of the cave, some 60 feet above the river and you have another decision to make. A birds eye view of the cavern is available if you opt for a second set of steps that climb another 30-40 feet. The upper walkway makes a complete scenic loop, following the cavern wall, from and back to, the stairway. (The poor lighting makes it difficult to see the walkway across the cavern.) The upper walkway provides a fantastic view of the entire cavern! To move further into Jiuxiang Cave, from the floor of the cavern, you follow a much smaller cave for a few hundred feet before another very large, mostly sun lite, cavern opens in front of you. The canyon is now green to the bottom, timber on both sides, and the water is spilling out of the mountain some 30 feet below you: It is a beautiful spot.

Today's access to the cable tram, because of construction, was via the lower bridge only. Access to the cable tram, from either the cave exit or the lower bridge, is a bit of a hike up the mountain. Both of us were exhausted so the walk to the bridge and cable tram was delayed by an extended rest. Today I saw two exhausted people being carried out of the cave. We were losing the days light, but the tram provides a great ride and a glimpse of the higher, drier country around the canyon.

The water that runs under Jiuxiang Cave empties into the north arm of Chaishitan Reservoir about a mile south. The Chaishitan Dam on the lower left arm of the reservoir, forms the reservoir by containing all the north to south miscellaneous drainage and the east to west flow of the Nanpan River. The Nanpanjiang River Bridge and the walk bridge are on the Nanpan River below the dam. I searched for the purpose of this dam and reservoir. I found, what appears to be an undated government spreadsheet titled D_CHN.xlsx, that lists statistics on 722 Chinese dams. This document indicates the Chaishitan reservoir is used for irrigation, flood control and power generation. I found the referenced spreadsheet at: Dam Statistics It should be noted that several miles north of the reservoir there appears to be substantial winter wheat acreage. Additionally, in many countries, large bodies of water like Chaishitan, are used for fire suppression resources.

Shilin and the Yiliang Jiuxiang Scenic Area has been both interesting and fun. I was disappointed that the entire cave was illuminated with colored lights. The canyon walls are rich with many natural and blended colors, so too is the cavern walls. Only white light, like our sun produces, contains all the colors, some of which are reflected and experienced by us. Tomorrow we will visit Kunming, then we are going experience a few of China's high speed train rides on the way to the Shaolin Temple in Dengfeng, and more sites in Guangzhou.

My thanks to the Chinese for the visa.

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