The Huangguoshu Waterfall (黃果树大瀑 [Huángguǒshù Dà Pù]; Yellow Fruit Tree Waterfall) is perhaps China's most famous waterfall. The crowds here certainly made it feel famous, but we have to say that after our experience with these falls, we can totally easily see why. As for how this waterfall got its name after a yellow fruit tree, our guide said it was really more of a legend than anything as there were none growing around the falls these days. Perhaps they did exist in the past.
Sporting dimensions at 74m tall and 81m wide with a very classic and satisfying rectangular shape, Huangguoshu Falls appeared to be certainly one of the country's biggest waterfalls. And as far as we were concerned, it was also the star attraction of the Guizhou Province. Further adding to its allure was the presence of other cascades both above and below the main falls as well as the ability to walk right behind the massive wall of water. And under the right conditions (the province was notorious for cloudy days as noted by the name of its capital Guiyang (贵阳 [Guìyáng]; meaning Precious Sun), majestic rainbows can appear in its mist above the Rhinoceros Pool. We did manage to catch a glimpse of such a rainbow despite the clouds doing their best to keep the sun hiding.
During our visit, we had to walk through a Chinese garden area before reaching a break area bustling with people. It was from here that we had a choice of taking a funicular ride to the bottom or walking down several flights of steps to get right down into the gorge (we opted to do the latter).
Once we were at the bottom, we were able to get those classic views of the waterfall and smaller cascades fronting it as the river twisted its way past our vantage point. Our viewing experience was definitely a bit tense thanks to the multitude of mega tour groups (we came to appreciate the fact that giant Chinese tours with megaphones and crowds were the norm as was the lack of peace and quiet) so even though the views were nice here, it wasn't easy to enjoy it.
When we had our fill of the vantage point here, we then went on a a very well developed (and still crowded) walkway that looped (typically in clockwise direction) and even went behind the Huangguoshu Waterfall. The path climbed up along the cliff edge for more top down and closer views. And after going into the so-called Water Curtain Cave behind the waterfall for that rare chance to experience a waterfall from its backside, the trail descended to the other side of the Baishui River (白水河 [Báishuǐ Hé]; White Water River) for closer angled views of the falls.
Once we were done with the loop, the funicular ride back up to the rest area at the top of the ascent looked even more attractive, but we resisted and took the stairs instead. Little did we know that on the rest of our waterfalling in China that this would be a choice we would consistently face as there were plenty of places where people would ride scooters, trams, cable cars, or funiculars like this one. It seemed as if the folks here would do anything to keep from walking (I wonder if all the smog and cigarette smoke makes it easy for people to be short of breath).
Anyways, we showed up in April, which we came to realize was a pretty lousy time of year to go waterfalling in the country, but this waterfall surprised us. The rainy season for this area was supposed to be May to October, in which case, we would probably see this waterfall thundering. But as you can see from our pictures, the average flow in April (not sure if this was unusual or not) did just fine though I had heard of other stories about this waterfall being disappointingly light in flow in drier years this time of year.
Directions: We managed to get to Huangguoshu Waterfall on an escorted tour after basing ourselves in the chaotic city of Guiyang. We also spent the night near the waterfall for a more relaxing pace to our visit though we acknowledge that most tours actually make this a day trip out of Guiyang.
It took us about 2 hours by car to get from Guiyang to the falls. However, it took us a little longer the morning we came here because we also made a detour to the Longgong (Dragon Palace) Caves.