The visit to Mang Shan was a really hectic experience. We covered not one mountain, not two mountains but three the same day! And on top of that, a natural history museum.
This is the entrance to the Mang Shan Natural History Museum
A map of the Houwang Village
The Valley of the Monkey King Stockade/Houwang Village (莽山猴王寨) south-east of Yichang County (宜章縣) with nearly a hundred hills and mountains. The Nature Park of Mangshan covers an area of some 280 square kilometers. It's the southernmost part of China with snow in winter. The mountain streams here will eventually join the North River (北江), a tributary of the Pearl River (珠江). The region has an average temperature of just about 17 degrees Centigrade and has abundant rainfall. Because of its wet weather and dense vegetation, there are a total of 52 types of snakes in the Mangshan area, about a quarter of all the snake types in China. 20 of such snake-types carry venomous fangs. Only here can there be found a rare species of poisonous snake, discovered as recently in 1984, called the "branding iron head" (烙鐵頭蛇), whose color is green like the moss on the rocks in the region. Officially they were originally called "trimeresurus mangshanesis" but in 1992, they were renamed " ermia mangshanesis". It takes about just 9 second for the bite of a 10 day-old "branding iron head" to kill a mouse with one single bite.
A map of the Houwang Village
A photo of the "branding iron- head". They can only be found above 1000 meters up the hills of Mangshan. There are not more than a hundred of so of them now in the entire world and in 1994, they were classified and protected as "category 1 endangered species" of near-distinct animals and preserved accordingly and are now more precious even than the Panda. Its identifying characteristic is that it has got a white tail. So the locals call it the "white tail" . It has the ability to change color to blend in with those of its its immediate environment, turning moss green above moss and rock grey upon rocks. It prefers a clean environment and the open air.
This is a water snake living in the streams special to the Mangshan area first discovered by Dr. Chen in the area in 1989 and is called "opistropis cheni" (陳氏後棱蛇) after the name its discover Dr. Chen. It wasn't "discovered" until so recently because it lives entirely in water and only emerges upon the surface of streams or trenches at night time and will die 3 to 4 minutes once lifted out of water. They can be found in the mountain streams between 400 to 1500 meter in altitude.It will bear 3-4 eggs each July.
The head of the waterfall in Monkey King Village more than 300 meters high
The mountains surrounding the waterfalls
Another view of such mountains
The tip of the waterfall deep within the dense vegetation
The pavilion from which the initial photos were taken
Some trees grow from the mountain side almost horizontally
The opposite side of the same valley
Water plunging down from more than a 100 meters above. The bamboo leaves look so fresh and green
Water streaming down one side of the mountain path
and collecting in a pool below
They come down by two paths, one wider and the other barely trickles
Another view of the lower water wall
The water of the pool is so green
and so clear. It's rare to be able to find this amongst the streams of China now. I really don't know how this will last because this tourist route has just been opened recently as a result of the commencement of the new Chinese High Speed Rail ("CSR" ) link.