Kangding (Tips, Photos & Map)

September 22nd, 2021
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Often regarded as where Tibet really begins, Kangding (康定) is the capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, China.

Location of Kangding

Kangding ( also known in Tibet as Dartsendo or Dardo ) is set in a deep valley at the confluence of the raging Zheduo River River ( 折多河 ) and Yala River (雅拉河).

It is located about 133 km to the northwest of Moxi Town, 49km west of Luding County and 360 km west of Chengdu. Kangding was once the hub for horse and tea trading along the Tea and Horse Route between Sichuan and Lhasa. 

ABC of Kangding

For centuries, Kangding has been the exchange center of Han and Tibetan cultures. It is also a gateway to Tibet in the west from Chengdu.

Kangding is upgraded from a county level to a prefecture city, which encompasses 6 towns and 15 townships and over 200 villages. Lucheng Town (炉城镇) is the city proper ( the downtown area ) of Kangding. Lucheng Town is the seat of both Kangding City and Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture .

For many Chinese, Kangding’ popularity comes from the themed love song “Kangding Love Song”. Travelers would be attracted by its alluring vicinity covering snow mountains, glaciers, alpine meadows, sweeping grasslands and monasteries. Of course, the biggest draw is its unique Khampa cultures such as Guozhuang (康巴锅庄文化).

Moxi Town – Luding – Kangding Road Trip

Well,  back to our self-drive trip, on October 08, we leave Moxi Town at 3:30 pm for Kangding where we are going to stay overnight. At 5:00pm, we pass by the downtown of Luding County. We stop for about 10 minutes for a glimpse of the legendary Luding Iron-Chain Bridge (泸定桥) that spans the Dadu River in Luding County.

Moxi Town – Luding – Kangding Road Trip

The bridge dates back to Qing Dynasty, originally built 1705 and completed in 1706. In 1935, the soldiers of the Fourth Regiment of Red Army seized the bridge as a river crossing vital to the Red Army’s retreat during the Long March.  The bridge is 103.67 meters long, and 3 meters wide. 13 heavy iron chains are stretched across the river and lashed with thick boards.

Luding Iron-Chain Bridge
The legendary Luding Iron-Chain Bridge

Downtown Kangding

Further driving from Luding along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway known as G318, we get to the downtown of Kangding at about 7:00pm. The bright lit streets and modern buildings really gives us a shock!

Is this Kangding? It looks so developed and prosperous! A world difference from the Kangding in our minds! Below is the picture I snap of the street using my iphone sitting in our vehicle while looking for a hotel for tonight.

Kangding City
The bright lit streets and modern buildings in Kangding

It is not a tourist high season. We soon find a very nice hotel on the busy street in Kangding with quite reasonable roomrates. After dinner, I urge Mr.Chen to take our cameras and shoot the night views of Kangding City. It is drizzling outside and this doesn’t deter us from going onto the streets for enjoying the beautiful night of Kangding.

The torrential Zheduo River River ( 折多河 ) runs through the downtown of Kangding from the southwest to the northeast and enters Dadu River eventually.

Zheduo River River
Zheduo River River runs through the downtown of Kangding

Add titleKangding (Tips, Photos & Map)

Often regarded as where Tibet really begins, Kangding (康定) is the capital of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province, China.

Location of Kangding

Kangding ( also known in Tibet as Dartsendo or Dardo ) is set in a deep valley at the confluence of the raging Zheduo River River ( 折多河 ) and Yala River (雅拉河).

It is located about 133 km to the northwest of Moxi Town, 49km west of Luding County and 360 km west of Chengdu. Kangding was once the hub for horse and tea trading along the Tea and Horse Route between Sichuan and Lhasa. 

ABC of Kangding

For centuries, Kangding has been the exchange center of Han and Tibetan cultures. It is also a gateway to Tibet in the west from Chengdu.

Kangding is upgraded from a county level to a prefecture city, which encompasses 6 towns and 15 townships and over 200 villages. Lucheng Town (炉城镇) is the city proper ( the downtown area ) of Kangding. Lucheng Town is the seat of both Kangding City and Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture .

For many Chinese, Kangding’ popularity comes from the themed love song “Kangding Love Song”. Travelers would be attracted by its alluring vicinity covering snow mountains, glaciers, alpine meadows, sweeping grasslands and monasteries. Of course, the biggest draw is its unique Khampa cultures such as Guozhuang (康巴锅庄文化).

Moxi Town – Luding – Kangding Road Trip

Well,  back to our self-drive trip, on October 08, we leave Moxi Town at 3:30 pm for Kangding where we are going to stay overnight. At 5:00pm, we pass by the downtown of Luding County. We stop for about 10 minutes for a glimpse of the legendary Luding Iron-Chain Bridge (泸定桥) that spans the Dadu River in Luding County.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Moxi-to-Kangding-road-trip.jpg
Moxi Town – Luding – Kangding Road Trip

The bridge dates back to Qing Dynasty, originally built 1705 and completed in 1706. In 1935, the soldiers of the Fourth Regiment of Red Army seized the bridge as a river crossing vital to the Red Army’s retreat during the Long March.  The bridge is 103.67 meters long, and 3 meters wide. 13 heavy iron chains are stretched across the river and lashed with thick boards.

Luding Iron-Chain Bridge
The legendary Luding Iron-Chain Bridge

Downtown Kangding

Further driving from Luding along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway known as G318, we get to the downtown of Kangding at about 7:00pm. The bright lit streets and modern buildings really gives us a shock!

Is this Kangding? It looks so developed and prosperous! A world difference from the Kangding in our minds! Below is the picture I snap of the street using my iphone sitting in our vehicle while looking for a hotel for tonight.

Kangding City
The bright lit streets and modern buildings in Kangding

It is not a tourist high season. We soon find a very nice hotel on the busy street in Kangding with quite reasonable roomrates. After dinner, I urge Mr.Chen to take our cameras and shoot the night views of Kangding City. It is drizzling outside and this doesn’t deter us from going onto the streets for enjoying the beautiful night of Kangding.

The torrential Zheduo River River ( 折多河 ) runs through the downtown of Kangding from the southwest to the northeast and enters Dadu River eventually.

Zheduo River River
Zheduo River River runs through the downtown of Kangding

Zheduo River is sandwiched by high and modern buildings – banks, office buildings, department stores…

Zheduo River
Zheduo River is sandwiched by high and modern buildings

A  collection of modern concrete buildings in Tibetan style by the raging river.

uildings in Tibetan style Kangding
The concrete buildings in Tibetan style

A huge commercial building (like SOHO) packed with numerous offices, stores, restaurants and more.

A huge commercial building (like SOHO)
A huge commercial building (like SOHO)

Tonight’s rain prettifies the city with the reflection and refraction of the street lights.

Kangding Night

Zheduo River is sandwiched by high and modern buildings – banks, office buildings, department stores…

Zheduo River
Zheduo River is sandwiched by high and modern buildings

A  collection of modern concrete buildings in Tibetan style by the raging river.

uildings in Tibetan style Kangding
The concrete buildings in Tibetan style

A huge commercial building (like SOHO) packed with numerous offices, stores, restaurants and more.

A huge commercial building (like SOHO)
A huge commercial building (like SOHO)

Tonight’s rain prettifies the city with the reflection and refraction of the street lights.

Kangding Night
The reflection and refraction of the street lights in Kngding

The wide street roads flank the raging Zheduo River with the charming reflection and refraction of the street lights.

Zheduo River and Streets in Kangding
The wide street roads flank the raging Zheduo River

Add-On

Drive from Hanzhong to Ya’an
Ya’an Night View
Most Beautiful Sky Road in China
Moxi Old Town ( Tips, Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.04 (Tips,Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.03 (Tips, Photos & Map)
Kangding (Tips, Photos & Map)
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba
Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Drive from Daocheng to Yading
Yading Brings You Inner Peace

Hassle-free Chengdu & Sichuan Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Chengdu and Sichuan guided tours:

Chengdu tour
Chengdu Car Rental with Driver
Create My Chengdu Trip
Jiuzhaigou Tour
Sichuan Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Chengdu
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu Airport
Railway stations in Chengdu
Chengdu Taxi
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to visit Wuhou Shrine
How to visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage
How to visit Jinsha Site Museum
How to visit the tomb of Wang Jian in Chengdu
How to Visit Wangjiang Pavilion Park in Chengdu
How to visit Qingyang Palace in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to Visit Jinli Street
How to visit Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
Qintai Road, Qintai Gujing Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Shaoling Road Bar Street Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Jiuyanqiao Bar Street in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Old Teahouse in Pengzhen Town, Chengdu

Bipenggou is a fairyland in Autumn
When is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou?
Best Places to Visit Autumn Leaves in Sichuan
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland

Any questions,  just drop a line.

Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.03 (Tips, Photos & Map)

September 21st, 2021
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On October 08,  we get on the first shuttle bus leaving at 7:30 am from Moxi Town for Camp No.03 up at Hailuogou Glacier (海螺沟三号营地).

Take the shuttle bus from Moxi Town to Camp 3 Hailuogou Glaicier

Yesterday afternoon we visited Camp No.04 and fortunately viewed the Firn Basin and the Grand Ice Cascade of No.01 Hailuogou Glacier. But we are not contented with a distant glimpse of the glaciers, instead we would like to traverse the glacially carved valley, seeing, feeling and even touching the bright and crystal glacier ice as we’ve long expected.

It is said that there is a walkway starting from Camp No.03, which finally leads down to the glacier valley where we are able to find glacier caves, glacier ladders and more glacier wonders.

With that aim in mind and without any idea on the hard efforts ahead involved, we again buy the tickets for admission and shuttle bus for Camp No.03. In this case, we have some complaint about the ticketing policy on the part of Hailuogou Glacier Park Administration. The entrance tickets should be valid for 2 or 3 days, allowing travelers to fully enjoy Hailuogou Glacier’s pristine forests, hot springs, rugged mountains, and spectacular glacier. In addition, the lengthened entrance admission would stimulate the local food and hotel industry.

One hour later, a busload of us disperses on Camp No.03 at the sea-level of 2940 meters. It is a rainy and gloomy morning. We put on our raincoats and start hiking up along the one way 1.8km boardwalk. We are supposed to walk for 1.8 km from the 2940-meter at Camp No.03 along the boardwalk up to the 3200-meter altitude observation deck, then walk down to the glacially carved valley at about 3000 meters sea-level, roughly a total 5 km round trip walking.

Hailuogou Glacier Boardwalk
Walk along the boardwalk from Camp No.03

The boardwalk goes through the dense dark coniferous forests, allowing you to have zero contact with the natural environs. But walking for 5 km ups and downs at about 3000 meters sea-level turns out to be an enormously hard job! With heavy backpacks loaded with cameras, water, snacks and emergency kits, we trudge up step by step. We don’t know exactly how many times we have to stop for a break and balance our breath.

For each break, we don’t take off our backpacks, which otherwise would be very stressful.  We just stand leaning on the wooden handrails with our backpacks perched on a rail. I feel much warmer and unbutton my jacket due to excessive sweating, which later proves to pose a serious problem for me. I catch a serious cold in the glacier valley, and the cold almost keeps on for my whole self-drive trip!

Glacier Walkway at Camp No.03
We just stand leaning on the wooden handrails with our backpacks perched on a rail.

Scrambling along the walkway for nearly two hours, we finally get to Glacier Observation Deck at 3000 meters altitude. By the observation deck, there is a wooden toilet and a wooden restaurant, a kind of service center for hikers on this walkway. The whole glacier valley is heavily shrouded in fog and clouds. We decide to continue to walk along the walkway down to the glacier valley.

Glacier Vally shrouded in fog and clouds
The whole glacier valley is heavily shrouded in fog and clouds.

We start to walk down to the bottom areas of the glacier valley along the walkway from the observation deck. The walkway down to the valley bottom is poorly managed, largely due to the restricted geographical conditions and the frequent changes in the climatic and geographical patterns.

We have to walk down along a narrow and steep stone-paved road flanked one side by the sheer cliffs with potential risk of falling rocks.

Glacier Walkway Hailuogou
a narrow and steep stone-paved road flanked one side by the sheer cliffs

The walkway down to the valley bottom is poorly managed.

The walkway down to the valley bottom
The walkway down to the valley bottom is poorly managed

In the course of struggling to balance ourselves going down the steep and rickety boardwalk and stone-paved walkway, we are happily distracted by the autumn hues that cling to the hillsides above the galcier valley – mosses, wild flowers, unamed grassess, autumn leaves, fir and cedar trees.

The autumn hues in the glacier valley
The autumn hues in the glacier valley

Landing safely on the bottom of the glacier valley, we are temporarily disconcerted. I confess that what is in sight floors me! Under the low visibility of clouds, we see only a bottom of gravel and boulders!  Where can we find the clean, crystal and transparent glaciers? Yes, the glaciers are under our feet, covered with gravel and these boulders. But we unlikely dig out the cryastal glaciers instantly.

Hailuogou Glacier valley
A bottom of gravel and boulders

Mr. Chen, a very positive man, tells me that we should walk further on and will definitely find cleaner and brighter glacier ice. He continues to inspire me, saying the Sun will appear! Walking on gravel and boulders is dangerous and uncomfortable. Fortunately my hiking boots ( made in Canada ) never fail me, greatly increasing my confidence in walking in the wildness.

Glaciers slowly deform and flow due to stresses induced by their weight, creating crevasses (冰川裂隙), seracs (冰塔), and other distinguishing features. We finally find some of these glaciers in intriguing forms, crystal and a bit azure. Much to our pleasant surprise, at 12:30 am the Sun appears with a small portion of blue sky surrounded by white clouds! Later we get to know we are the only few people having seen the sunshine and blue sky among the hundreds of tourists going down to the valley bottom for the same whole day.

We lose no time shooting the various forms of glacier we can find on the brighter valley flanked by sheer cliffs with autumn foliage.

The valley is flanked by sheer cliffs with autumn foliage.

Hailuogou Glacier
The valley is flanked by sheer cliffs with autumn foliage

Looking at the glacier crevasses.

Hailuogou Glacier
Looking at the glacier crevasses

A happy couple ( Mr. Chen Wexiang and Chen Ya )

Chen Wexiang
A happy couple

I cannot resist taking a picture with the glacier. Touching icy glacier is my maiden experience!

Daniel Li
Touching icy glacier is my maiden experience!

In less than half hour, the Sun disappears and the valley back to darkness. It gets much colder and I think I have caught the cold at this moment. We start to retrace along the same walkway. On the way back, we order some snacks for lunch at the service center near the observation deck.  We are back to our parking lot at Moxi Town around 3:30 pm.

Add-On

Drive from Hanzhong to Ya’an
Ya’an Night View
Most Beautiful Sky Road in China
Moxi Old Town ( Tips, Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.04 (Tips,Photos & Map)
Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.03 (Tips, Photos & Map)
Night View of Kangding
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba
Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Drive from Daocheng to Yading
Yading Brings You Inner Peace

Hassle-free Chengdu & Sichuan Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Chengdu and Sichuan guided tours:

Chengdu tour
Chengdu Car Rental with Driver
Create My Chengdu Trip
Jiuzhaigou Tour
Sichuan Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Chengdu
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu Airport
Railway stations in Chengdu
Chengdu Taxi
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to visit Wuhou Shrine
How to visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage
How to visit Jinsha Site Museum
How to visit the tomb of Wang Jian in Chengdu
How to Visit Wangjiang Pavilion Park in Chengdu
How to visit Qingyang Palace in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to Visit Jinli Street
How to visit Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
Qintai Road, Qintai Gujing Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Shaoling Road Bar Street Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Jiuyanqiao Bar Street in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Old Teahouse in Pengzhen Town, Chengdu

Bipenggou is a fairyland in Autumn
When is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou?
Best Places to Visit Autumn Leaves in Sichuan
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland

Any questions on Camp No.04 of Hailuogou Glacier,  just drop a line.

Hailuogou Glacier Camp No.04 (Tips,Photos & Map)

September 21st, 2021
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Getting off the “Sky Road” – Yaxi Expressway, and passing through the downtown of Shimian County (石棉县),  we steer our four-wheel drive vehicle north along the provincial road offcially known as “S211”. 

Highway S211 leading to Moxi Old Town

It is a mountainous road with two lanes total ( one lane for each direction ), on the side of steep cliffs with frequent sharp turns and curves, and possibly falling stones and rocks. Much experienced Mr. Chen is  definiltey the right person to rein and tame his own white horse steadily on the road full of potential risks.

Shimian Moxi S211
A mountainous road with two lanes total on the side of steep cliffs.

Around 12:00 noon, October 07, we finally get to Moxi Town (磨西镇), safe and sound from the risky, not-easy-to-control provincial road “S211”.

With our vehicle running into the streets of Moxi, we are a bit amazed at the sight of the mixed-style buildings flanking the streets, Tibetan and modern Han, clean though a bit touristy, slightly different from “the old Moxi Town” in our minds. Much delighted the town is the gateway to Hailuogou Glacier. So here we are!

Moxi Town
Moxi Town

Hailuogou Tourist Service Center

We drive in the direction according to a huge signboard pointing to the “Hailuogou Tourist Service Center” where we are supposed to buy our today’s entrance tickets. With our vehicle parking in front of the service building, we lose no time in grapping a bite to eat and drink bottled water, then stride to the ticketing office.

Inside the service building, bombarded with Hailuogou tourist information, flyers and brochures, soon we find out a half day is far from enough for a highlight trip to Hailuogou Glacier.

Apart from its magical glaciers, Hailuogou Glacier Forest Park is well known for its pristine forests and hot springs. There are four viewing camps to visit in the park and shuttle buses are linked to Camps No.01, No.02 and No.03 while Camp N.04 is accessible by cable car starting from Camp No.03. Camp No.01 and Camp No.02 are mainly designed for viewing primeval forests and bathing in hot springs.

Camp No.04 for distant views of the glaciers

So we decide to go up to Camp No.04 (海螺沟4号营地) this afternoon and forget Camp No.01 and Camp No.02 since our aim is to see and touch glaciers. But we have to leave Camp No.03 (海螺沟3号营地) for tomorrow, which allows people to have the chance to be immersed in the real and magical glaciers, quite different from Camp No.04 where you are only able to have distant views of the glaciers.

Entrance ticket: 92 yuan; shuttle bus: 70 yuan and cable car ( from Camp No.03 to Camp No.04): 150 yuan ( return). Tomorrow we have to purchase again the tickets for entrance and shuttle bus ( No more cable car ). A bit exorbitant, right?  Yes, domestic admission fees rise year on year in many places!

Hailuogou Entrance
Hailuogou Main Gate and Shuttle Buses

Shuttle Bus to Campsite No.03

The shuttle bus ride from the Service Center at Moxi Town to Campsite No.03 ( where we change for cable car up to Campsite No.04) is much longer than we expect, almost one hour driving along the zigzag 30km road ascending from Moxi Town at 1600 meters up to Campsite No.03 at 2980 meters.

Shuttle Bus to Campsite No.03 at Hailuogou Galacier Park ( Google)

Our local shuttle bus driver is very much adept at controlling the bus like a toy in his hands, quick and safe encounter with other buses at turns and curves.

ABC of Hailuogou Glaciers

In the course of the one hour drive, I flip over the flyers and brochures on hand to get aquainted with the basic knowledge of Hailuogou Glaciers (海螺沟冰川). Hailuogou (literally Conch Gully ) is situated in the southeast of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Sichuan Province, on the east slope of Mount Gongga (7556 meters ). Hailuogou Glacier is regarded as a low altitude modern oceanic glacier.  Also known as No.1 Glacier, Hailuogou Glacier is 14.7 km long ( the longest among the 71 glaciers on Mount Gongga) with highest height of 6750 meters and lowest 2850 meters.

Hailuogou Glacier ( No.01 Glacier ) has three cascading steps from high to low: 1) The First Step – Neve Basin (粒雪盆), or firn basin, granular snow, the upper part of the glacier, where it has not yet been compressed into ice; 2) The Second Step – Large Ice Fall (大冰瀑布),  500 to 1100 meters wide and 1080 high grand glacier cascade which is the highest and grandest icefall in China;  3) The Third Step: Glacier Tongue (冰川舌),  6 km long and penetrating into the pristine forest, forming a rare natural landscape with the mix of glacier and forest.

Camp No.04 Hailuogou Glacier
Our bus comes to a stop on the flat and spacious ground at Camp No.03

Cable up to Campsite No.04

Our bus comes to a stop on the flat and spacious ground at Camp No.03 and a busload of us disperse. After a short break ( using a toilet or stretching a little bit ),  some go on hiking on Camp No.03 to look for the real and crystal glacier ice.

Like some of the others, we continue to take cable car up to Camp No.04 for a glimpse of the Grand Ice Cascade and Neve Basin on the top of the 14.7km long Hailuogou Glacier. We choose the latter and leave the search at Camp No.03 for the glacier ice for tomorrow.

Hailuogou Cable Car
A 6 seated cable car

Carrying our camera backpacks, we walk to the ropeway station. The 3500-meter long alpine ropeway, one of the longest of this kind in China, spans the core zone of Hailuogou Glacier,  crossing the glacier valley and allowing us to see through the transparent alpine  cable car and view the endless primeval forests and the surfaces of glaciers covered with dirt, dust, sand and river stones.

Hailuogou Glacier viewed from our cable car
Hailuogou Glacier Valley viewed from our cable car

A little bit disappointed at the somewhat black surfaces of the glaciers valley, covered with dirt, soil and other materials. The “glacier” comes from the French word “glace” ( glah-say ), meaning “Ice”. A glacier is a huge mass of ice that moves slowly over land.  There are two kinds of glaciers: alpine glaciers and ice sheets.  Hailuogou belongs to alpine glaciers that move from mountainsides downward through valleys.

Viewing the Firn Baisin, the Great Ice Fall at Camp No.04

Getting onto Camp No.04 shrouded by fog and clouds,  we suddenly realize that viewing the Grand Ice Fall or Firn Basin is contingent with weather conditions! In the case of inclement weather ( rain, fog, overcast), the top two steps of the glaciers – Firn Basin and Great Ice Fall are shrouded in fog or clouds, sometime even the whole glacier valley submerged in clouds!

Observation Deck at Camp No.04 of Hailuogou Glacier
Observation Deck at Camp No.04 of Hailuogou Glacier

Upon our arrival on the observation deck at sea-level 3600 meters, we find most of the glacier valley and the top firn basin and the great ice fall are partially covered by clouds. What we can do is to wait for clouds to disperse or the sun to appear. Though a slight chance, we don’t give up and try to grasp any moment to have a  glimpse into the true faces of the glaciers.

Suddenly the sky turns a bit bluer and brighter, and the clouds over the second step of the glacier are lifted and the Great Ice Fall appears!

Grand Ice Cascade
The clouds over the second step of the galcier are lifted

I lose no time changing for my long-range zoom camera lens and shoot a clear photo of the Great Ice Fall.

Hailuogou Grand Ice Fall
Zoomed-in photo of the Grand Ice Fall

Shortly the top part of the clouds over the Firn basin also thins out and the Firn basin becomes transparent with sunlights passing through the clouds. Good luck follows us and we are able to view the top part of Hailuogou Glacier – the Firn Basin,  granular snow, the upper part of the glacier, where it has not yet been compressed into ice.

Firn Basin of Hailuogou
A zoomed-in picture of the Firn Basin and the Grand Ice Fall
A zoomed-in picture of the Firn Basin
A zoomed-in picture of the Firn Basin

People make use of the momentary blue sky to snap multiple pictures and do selfie as well. Within less than half hour, clouds come close again and gradually blanket the Firn Basin and the Grand Cascade Icefall. It again looks grey and gloomy.

I see  a lot that I cannot see clearly with my own eyes thanks to my long-range zoom camera lens.

Long-range zoom camera lens
My long-range zoom camera lens help us a lot

Pointing at the glacier valley below,  I zoom in the glacier ice for a close-up view,  glacier mass ice and ice caves. It is said that Camp No.03 is the ideal place to find clean and crystal glacier ice.

 glacier mass ice and ice caves
glacier mass ice and ice caves

People do selfie with a backdrop of white clouds and blue sky.

Selfie on Observation Deck at Hailuogou Glacier
Selfie on Observation Deck at Camp No.04 in Hailuogou Glacier

We are much luckier having viewed the Firn Baisin, the Great Ice Fall as well as the glacier valley while quite a number of tourists see nothing due to the heavy fog and clouds capping the whole Hailuogou glacier valley.  Content with what we have seen,  we take the cable car down back to Camp No.03 where we change for shuttle bus again back to Moxi Town.

Just an anecdote about Mr. Chen, my self-drive travel buddy ( a former English teacher at a military academy ) : He looks a bit confused, carrying three cameras.

Mr.Chenweixiang
Mr. Chen, my self-drive travel buddy

Add-On

Drive from Hanzhong to Ya’an
Ya’an Night View
Most Beautiful Sky Road in China
Moxi Old Town ( Tips, Photos & Map)
Camp No.04 at Hailuogou Glacier
Camp No.03 at Hailuogou Glacier
Night View of Kangding
Drive from Kangding to Xinduqiao
Drive from Xinduqiao to Danba
Jiarong Tibetan Blockhouses
Jiarong Tibetan Ancient Watchtowers
Drive from Xinduqiao to Yajiang
Drive from Yajiang to Litang
Drive from Litang to Daocheng
Drive from Litang to Batang
Drive from Batang to Mangkang
Drive from Shangri-la to Daocheng
Drive from Daocheng to Yading
Yading Brings You Inner Peace

Hassle-free Chengdu & Sichuan Guided Tours

If you don’t want to go the do-it-yourself route and prefer the hassle-free escorted tours, here are some options for Chengdu and Sichuan guided tours:

Chengdu tour
Chengdu Car Rental with Driver
Create My Chengdu Trip
Jiuzhaigou Tour
Sichuan Tour

Further Readings


Top 10 Attractions in Chengdu
Best Time to Visit Chengdu
Chengdu Airport
Railway stations in Chengdu
Chengdu Taxi
Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to visit Wuhou Shrine
How to visit Du Fu Thatched Cottage
How to visit Jinsha Site Museum
How to visit the tomb of Wang Jian in Chengdu
How to Visit Wangjiang Pavilion Park in Chengdu
How to visit Qingyang Palace in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
How to Visit Jinli Street
How to visit Kuan Alley and Zhai Alley
Qintai Road, Qintai Gujing Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Shaoling Road Bar Street Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
Jiuyanqiao Bar Street in Chengdu (Tips, Photos & Map)
The Old Teahouse in Pengzhen Town, Chengdu

Bipenggou is a fairyland in Autumn
When is the best time to visit Jiuzhaigou?
Best Places to Visit Autumn Leaves in Sichuan
Top 10 Places to Visit in Sichuan
Ruoergai Grassland, my first trip to Ruoergai Grassland

Any questions on Camp No.04 of Hailuogou Glacier,  just drop a line.