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Hot Springs in Ice


   In the southeast of Sichuan Province´s Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Hailuo Valley rests 296 kilometers from the provincial capital of Chengdu, and is well-known for both magnificent glaciers and refreshing hot springs. As China´s only glacier forest park, Hailuo Valley is home to one of only a few existing low altitude glaciers in the world. January is one of the best times to visit the place, when its hot springs in snow compare to those of Hokkaido, complemented by the most beautiful glaciers in western China.

   Hailuo Valley´s winter is quite poetic. It boasts glaciers with a total area of 31 square kilometers, an ice fall of l,000 meters in both height and width, and a six kilometer-long glacier tongue into primeval fir forests, offering rare natural scenery. Ascending the observation deck, tourists can see vast expanses of impressive glaciers. The deck provides a rare visual feast of ice cracks, giant stairways, ice pillars,ice arches, the broad U-shape glacier valley itself, and emerald virgin forests.

    At present, four campsites serve tourists visiting Hai luo Valley. At an altitude of l,940 meters, No.l Campsite features vegetation of subtropical semi-arid valley shrublands. Only seven kilometers away, No.2 Campsite sits at an altitude of 2,580 meters amidst plentiful hot springs. If travelers leave No.2 Campsite via Shuihaizi Lake, the only ancient glacial lake in the valley, they can climb to No.3 Campsite at an altitude of 2,940 meters. No.3 Camp site is the ideal place for viewing "sunshine on the golden mountain," a popular spectacular vista. On a sunny day, when the rising sun glistens off the snowy mountains, the crags seem to be covered in sparkling gold. The final site, No.4, is 3,600 meters above sea level. The campsite, where visitors have a full view of the glaciers in the valley, is also the upper most terminal for the newly constructedg lacier tram.

   For tourists, Hailuo Valley´s hot springs are a must see. Plenty of hot, warm, and cold springs can be found at almost every reachable place, either seeping from ground, in the form of streams, or part of the waterfalls. Free from pollution and contanunation, water from the cold springs is safe to drink. It is a stunning juxtaposition that in a valley near such huge glaciers, boiling springs are so abundant.

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