New cable car in Cangshan Mountain
Friday, October 12th, 2012
In the past it was a 8-10 hour trek through the forest up to Ximatan on Cangshan Mountain. These days for the less physically inclined, it is a 30 minute cable car ride. The new cable car which opened in late 2011, starts in the grounds of the Tianlongbabu Film Studio, an artificial historical city built for the purpose of movie making. It is a brisk 10 minute walk (or a 10 RMB electrical car ride) up to the boarding area. Here there are downjackets available for hire for anyone who forgot to bring one. The 5.5km ride up to the top is spectacular in clear weather, with expansive views over Erhai Lake, the Cangshan Mountain Ranges and the primeval forests below. When I went, it felt like I was riding into nothingness. I get the impression it might often be like this.
When you reach the top it is a 30-45 minute walk along boardwalks and up dozens of stairs up to Ximatan, a small highland lake (4097m). There are a few rest stops with picnic tables and kiosks selling snacks and drinks (including coffee!) . With the sudden change in elevation you will most likely appreciate the chance to catch your breath.
The best time to visit this area is late spring (April-June) when dozens of varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas cover the mountain sides. There are signs in both Chinese and English with information about each variety.
At present there is a second cable car stop under construction at Seven Dragon Pool (Elevation: 2900 m). This will give travelers the option of numerous hiking + cable car combinations.