36km west of Songpan is another of Aba Prefecture’s aquatic marvels – Muni Valley. Muni Valley consists of two side valleys, more than 100 lakes and natural hot springs with the most spectacular sceneries being Zhaga Waterfall and Erdao Lake. It is possible to reach Muni Valley by road or horse trek from Songpan. The altitude ranges from 2,800m at the entrance to 4,070m on the mountain peaks.
Muni Valley is a geologic museum of miscellaneous natural landscape formed by the rare karst calcification in high and cold mountain area. Owing to the fact that the travertine sediment deposit in the scenic sport in large in scale and various in shapes, added with later on geologic movements, various kinds of travertine landforms were formed. The landscape of the scenic spot is blended with travertine waterfalls, annular ponds and waterfalls, plateau collapsed solution lakes, stalactites, karst caves, calcification relics, primeval forests, high-mountain meadows, sulfurous springs, rare flora and fauna, Tibetan Buddhism tmples, and unique customs of Tibetan village, and famous for Five Marvels – “waterfall, flower sea, lake, spring and stalactite”.
Muni Valley, also high in calcium carbonate boasts similar colors to those of the larger Huanglong and Jiuzhai Valley National Park. It also contains China’s largest stalactite. Of historical significance is China’s ancient Tea and Horse Trading Routes passed through the Muni Valley area. The local Tibetan Village of Muni Valley is a convergent point of history and present day life, of culture and nature which makes it an excellent starter to your Jiuzhai Valley and Huanglong Trip.
Muni Valley scenery is not inferior to Jiuzhaigou Valley, because of its ethnic customs and it combined with the beauty of Jiuzhaigou Valley and Huanglong as a whole, but it is quieter than Jiuzhaigou Valley, especially its winter won’t freeze even there is the snow, tourists still can enter into Muni Valley with a local guide certainly.
Muni Valley has two existing landscapes: Zhaga Waterfall and Erdao Lake. Besides, there are the diastrophic lakes: Mirror Sea, Swan Lake, Rhinoceros Sea, etc.
Swan Lake is the first lake when people go into Erdaohai Scenic Spot, covers an area of about 13300 square meters, the water is blue and deep, because there are wild ducks and swans swimming so it gains the name.
Flowers Sea, 80 meters away from Swan Lake, and it covers an area of 16800 square meters, which is the biggest lake in the valley. The lake is serene and clear, which can reflect mountain peaks and green trees, and it gained the name because of the summer and fall there is a lot of overgrowing water plants.
Rhinoceros Sea, legend has it that the lake once appeared rhinoceros. It is a large lake group made up of 36 lakes inside lakes all linked with on another, 85 meters long and 80 meters wide; and the widest one is Rhinoceros Sea which is 30 meters long, 40 meters wide. The bottom of the lake shapes like dustpan, with a depth of 18.5 meters, the water was crystal clear. Rhinoceros Sea downstream lake embankment developed series of calcium dissolved cave, there is a hole on the left extended toward south with direction of 30 “, the east slope shape like well, the slope of degrees between 20 to 25; 3 a 4 meters high, 15 meters wide, 20 meters deep.
What to see
Muni Valley scenic area is mainly composed of Zhaga Valley and Erdao Lake Valley:
The largest travertine waterfall is – Zhaga Waterfall – is the world’s tallest travertine stack waterfall, with the height of 104m and width 35.4m. There are lakes upstream and a string of terrace-like riverbeds down stream. Water cascades down the three-level steps, giving out huge water sprays. The thundering waterfall can be heard ten li away. There is a karst cave under the waterfall, with two smaller ones on the sides. The caves seem to be skylights, to which the waterfalls are plunging. What a spectacular view!
It is not only the name of scenic spot, but also the largest lake. The area of Erdao Lake is 21.700 hectares, with the water area of 146 hectares. The elevation is 3,290m to 3,417m, and 46 km away from Ancient Songpan City. Its overall length is 5.6m. There are 26 scenic views, among which forests, lakes, flower seas, hot springs, stalactites and karst caves. In the valley, with sunglos towering to the sky, green lawn, flowers blooming like a piece of brocade, pleasant hot spring, picturesque waterscape, and all kinds of birds resting in the forest, the valley seems to be empty with peaceful sounds which are primitive and pure. Entering through the entrance of the valley, along the plank road, more than one thousand lakes scatter among the woods. Walking through those lakes, the miraculous landscape of “a lake in every three steps, a pool in every fiver steps, lakes hiding in the forests and flowers blooming in the lakes” is fantastic as a dream.
【Wild Duck Lake】
The blue sky, white clouds, crystal blue water, here is the paradise of wild duck, green-winged teal and all kinds of water birds. Whether it is spring with lots of flowers or autumn with fallen leaves, there are a lot of migratory birds migrating from south to north, and the numbers will increase or decreases along with the change of climate. But you can always see thousands of wild ducks who attached to their homes in the reeds for nesting and hatching eggs, and playing on the lake. In the depth of winter, there is flying snow, falling pine bough, the ice above the lake is floating, you can still see those ducks playing in the blue water.
【The Stone Forest】
The Stone Forest of Muni Valley is a typical yadan landform, special geographical location as well as the long mountain breeze blowing, the rain, sunlight rock weathering and denudation made the tiger, leopard, bear, deer, warrior, fairy and other living beings by nature, also created the different plants and articles in the form of contour.
Spring under the cover of turf hidden for thousands of years, only buddhist lama in the temple, known. It was used to treat disease, so it was regarded as the god spring by people that it was the best medicine in the legend.
【Five Seas】 Because five haizis that swelling of waves together so it was called Five Seas. Five Seas backs the breaking rock and faces the boundless mountains. Because of the effect of ice erosion of the glacier, there formed the jagged rocks of grotesque shapes in the shore of Five Seas, the fault tree of underwater travertine reflects from the water and become colorful special karst landform.
Muni National Customs
Muni Valley has not only magnificent natural scenery, it also has rich religious culture, Tibetan Buddhism and natural beauty combined in this place together, and formed a very unique atmosphere. Tibetan Buddhism of Muni Valley is mainly gelug sect, namely “Shamanism”, the main temples are Xiaobao temple and Muni Back Temple, which are the influential temples in Huanglong scenic area. Main festival is Zhuojin Festival every year on the lunar May 15
【Xiaobao Temple】 Xiaobao Temple is 3.7 kilometers away from the Muni Valley, and it has 449 years of history. Inside the temple there is a “Buddha stone”, it has natural generated image of Buddhism, so the temple was called Xiaobao Temple (“Xiao” means “Buddha stone”, “Bao” means the stone Buddha images).
【Muni Back Temple】 Muni Back Temple is located inside the Zhaga Valley, with an elevation of 3045 meters. On the back of the temple is dense virgin forest, the front is Longgang Valley, the left is imposing Zhaga Waterfall. Founded in 1663, the temple in possession of a large number of precious cultural relics of Tibetan Buddhism. On the lunar calendar January 15th and July 15th every year, Muni Back Temple will held large religious activities.
The natural scenery, folk customs in Muni Valley is not inferior as Jiuzhaigou Valley and Huanglong, even more pure than the Jiuzhaigou, and there will not be close the mountain of icy road. In the scenic area, forests, mountains, meadows, hot springs, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and Tibetan villages are wonderfully integrated as a whole.
How to Get to Muni Valley
There is no direct public transportation to Muni Valley, only by chartering car. The road to Muni Valley is in good condition. In Chengdu West Gate Bus Station there is coach to Songpan and then people can transfer to Muni Valley (or charter a car), also can fly from Chengdu to Jiuhuang Airport, and then driving to the scenic area, about an hour and a half.
Entering Muni Valley in winter, the best way is to ride a horse that you can appreciate the beauty of Muni Valley all the way.
The nearest hotel from Muni Valley Scenic Spot is in Songpan, tourists can accommodate in Songpan or Chuanzhu Temple.
Recommended Tour Route
1. Visiting Erdaohai Scenic Spot should follow the principle of “left hand”: going into the scenic spot after the entrance you need to walk on the left side of the road, and when you walk back from the top is to go down to the left of the road, so as not to repeat the road, and the time of back is shorter than go up way.
2. The road of visiting Zhaga Waterfall scenic area is on the contrary, tourists should follow the principle of “right hand”: go to the right of the road, and when you back you also go the right of the way down.
【Chinese Name】: 牟尼沟
【Recommended Visiting Time】: 2 days
【Best Time to Travel Muni Valley】: the best time to visit Muni Valley should be from April to November.