The first day of your tailored trip to see the geological wonders of the Yunnan Province takes you to Shilin County where you will discover one of the major attractions of the region and a must-see site; the Lunan Stone Forest, a set of dramatic karst formations. While the term ‘forest’ is usually used for a large grouping of trees, the Lunan Stone Forest is one of several ‘forests’ in China that is made of rocks, rather than trees.
After meeting your guide, you will begin your three to four-hour journey to the 26,000-hectare forest. A local expert, your guide will take you to the less-frequented Black Stone Forest, which is roughly ten-kilometers from the main site, but equally as impressive, to keep you away from the throng of tourists that visit the area.
According to a well-known myth in the region, gods created the Black Stone Forest by slicing up the mountains into smaller rocks so that they could offer them as gifts. The remainder of the rocks left over created the fascinating maze of ‘stone trees’ you can see in the park now. Just make sure you stick close to your guide - it really is a maze and it’s easy to get lost!Although the mythical story is enchanting, Shilin’s seemingly endless rocky peaks, which come in an intriguing array of shapes and sizes, are actually simply a result of chemical erosion over time, caused by the natural elements.
Depending on the weather, you will be able to enjoy a picnic lunch while in the Black Stone Forest, so that you can take time to relax and enjoy the spectacular surroundings and magical karst formations.
After the forest you will then take the two-hour journey to Kunming. Along the way you will be able to spot some of the old French train tracks. Although never colonized, China granted certain concessions to various Western countries during the 19th century. In 1910, with a view to expand their reach within Asia, the French began a project to link Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam at the time, to Kunming. During the project they laid more than 450 kilometers of track, built more than 3,500 bridges and excavated 170 tunnels.
The tracks that remain are possibly the most significant trace of French presence in China, and you will have the chance at the end of your trip to ride on a portion of the lines they built around 100 years ago that are still in use by freight trains to this day. After returning to Kunming you will be free to spend the evening at your leisure, taking a walk around the city streets or enjoy a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant before you retire to your hand-picked hotel. Whatever you fancy, your guide will be able to make a tasty suggestion, so don’t be afraid to ask their advice!