Mao Zedong statue
Hunan province is located in south China and borders with Jiangxi to the east,
Guangdong to the southeast,
Guangxi to the west and to the north, the Yangtze region. Many travellers pass through Hunan to reach places like
Yangshou or simply just ignore it altogether as they take the Yangtze River cruise. But Hunan is a place not to be missed for its famous nature reserve,
, a UNESCO world heritage site. The site obtained its status in 1992. The nature reserve spans a total of over 26,000 ha dominated by some 3,100 sandstone and quartzite pillars rising over 200m above the surrounding landscape. These tall and proud ancient pillars are often wrapped in the mists that envelope the area. Between the pillars are numerous ravines and gorges, many with attractive streams, pools and waterfalls. There are two natural bridges at the reserve, including one of the highest in the world, rising some 360m above the valley floor. The area is great for treking, whitewater rafting, photography or just simply to relax.
Due to the geology of the place, there are some forty caves with spectacular calcite deposits. Yellow Dragon Cave which extends over 11km is one of the longest in China and features a 50m high underground waterfall.
Hunan's provincial capital is
Changsa. Changsa's main attraction is the Hunan Provincial Museum which houses the Han-era tomb of Xin Zui, the Marquess of Dai who died around 160 BC. The body's excellent state of preservation is a marvel. The skin is still soft and the internal organs were still intact. Pathologists were able to establish to cause of her death and her age.
Changsa is also the birthplace of communism. Qingshui Tang (clearwater pool) is Chairman Mao's former residence and the site of the first local Communist Party offices. For completeness one can visit Mao's birthplace, the hamlet of
Shaoshan 90km to the southwest of Changsa