Jiuzhaigou: The valley with lakes in fascinating colors

Deep in the mountains of southwest China's Sichuan Province lies a dreamlike valley called Jiuzhaigou. The name literally means "nine-settlement valley" for the Tibetan settlements located in the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan. The remote region has long been inhabited by people of the Tibetan and Qiang ethnic minorities.

The valley stretches over 72,000 hectares on the eastern edge of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992, Jiuzhaigou is famous for its spectacular waterfalls, lush forests and serene alpine lakes.

Jiuzhaigou is composed of three major valleys: Rize, Zechawa and Shuzheng valleys. All at elevations above 2,000 meters, the valleys are 49 kilometers long altogether.

There are 108 alpine lakes dotted in the three valleys. The lakes are crystal clear, featuring multiple colors like blue, turquoise and emerald. The colors come from spirogyra, charophyte and other kinds of ferns that grow in the water. Their chlorophyll content helps manifest various colors that vary with the season, light and viewing angle as well.

Besides the magical lakes, Jiuzhaigou also has the country's widest highland waterfall, Nuorilang Waterfall, with a width of 270 meters. The climate of the region is subtropical to temperate monsoon with a mean annual temperature of about 8 degrees Celsius. Home to the most stunning view of nature, it is often referred to as China's Garden of Eden.

To preserve the biodiversity of the area, Jiuzhaigou National Nature Reserve was established for precious flora and fauna species like gingko, Chinese yew, Chinese monal, giant panda and Sichuan snub-nosed monkey.

The valleys were hit severely by a magnitude-7.0 earthquake in August 2017, which destroyed the Huohuahai Lake ("Spark Sea Lake" in Chinese) but created a new Shuanglonghai Waterfall ("Double Dragon Sea Waterfall" in Chinese). Jiuzhaigou was previously closed for restoration before it reopened recently on a trial basis.

(Cover image is a still from the video.)

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at nature@cgtn.com.)