About Huangguoshu Waterfall (黃果树大瀑 [Huángguǒshù Dà Pù])
The Huangguoshu Waterfall (黃果树大瀑 [Huángguǒshù Dà Pù]; Yellow Fruit Tree Waterfall) was perhaps China‘s most famous waterfall. The crowds here certainly made it feel famous, but after having seen it in person, 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 most impressive waterfalls. And as far as Julie and I 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 (see photo at the top of this page).
During our visit, we had to walk through a Chinese garden area before reaching a break area bustling with people. The garden featured well-manicured plants (almost bonzai-like) amidst a large lawn area interspersed with walkways crossing through it. From the break area at the far side of the garden, we had a choice of taking a funicular ride to the bottom of the gorge or walking down several flights of steps to get there. Julie and I opted to do the latter.
Once we were at the bottom, we were able to get those classic views of the waterfall and its smaller downstream cascades from a variety of viewing angles. The Baishui River (白水河 [Báishuǐ Hé]; White Water River) twisted its way past the immediate viewing area as part of the walkway flanked its course downstream towards the funicular.
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 here were nice, it wasn’t easy to enjoy it.
When we had our fill of the direct vantage points by the river, Julie and I then went on a a very well developed (and still crowded) walkway that looped behind the Huangguoshu Waterfall itself via the so-called Water Curtain Cave. We went in a clockwise direction so the path climbed up along the cliff edge for more top down and closer views of the falls. Then, as the path proceeded to go into the Water Curtain Cave, we got that rare chance to experience a waterfall this grand from its backside. Eventually, the trail descended to the other side of the Baishui River for more closer angled views of the falls that were quite different from the more popular views on the other side of the river.
Once Julie and I crossed the bridge over the river and were back in the main viewing area to complete the loop, the funicular ride back up to the rest area at the top of the ascent looked even more attractive. We resisted and took the stairs instead, but little did we know that on the rest of our waterfalling adventures in China that this choice would be prevalent as there were plenty of places where people would ride in 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 made it easy for people to be short of breath).
Anyways, Julie and I visited the Huangguoshu Waterfall in April, which we came to realize was a pretty lousy time of year to go waterfalling in the country. However, this waterfall surprised us with its flow, and being that it was on a major river, we have reason to believe that its flow would be year-round and reliable.
Nonetheless, the rainy season for this area was supposed to be May to October, in which case, we would have probably seen 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.
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 to reach the Huangguoshu Waterfall on the morning we came here because we also made a detour to the Longgong (Dragon Palace) Caves.
For geographical context, we arrived in Guiyang after an hour long flight from Nanning. Nanning was a two-hour flight from Hong Kong, 1,859km (20 hours drive or 2.5 hours flight) southwest of Shanghai, and 2,174km (22.5 hours drive or 3 hours flight) south of Beijing.
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