Yuanmou is located about 5 hours journey from Kunming, the capital of Yunnan, in the Autonomous Prefecture of Chuxiong and it's famous for two reasons:
the Yuanmou Man archaeological site and the atypical rock formations of the Earth Forest. The forest covers an area of about 75 square kilometers and over the years has become one of the most fascinating destinations in the region.
The name comes from the shape of the hills that dot the area, creating bizarre columns, walls, screens and teeth of different sizes. It was formed by geological movement and soil erosion that occurred between two and one million years ago. The land formations have a fluvio - lacustrine origin and were generated in the Pleistocene and Pliocene. Deposits of a forest of Wanpu tract containing sandstone and clay, belong to the oldest part of the region, dating back to the late Pliocene, while the Xinhua section consists of lacustrine clays and Pliocene sandstone. The forest land is divided into five areas dating back to different eras: the old city, Xinhua, banguo, Wumao and the area that lies along the Jinsha River. The most easily accessible part is the one that is about twenty kilometers from the city, along the river, inside a theme park. Despite local authorities exploit the territory for tourism purpose, the area remains absolutely charming, able to transport the visitor into a dreamy dimension. The area was damaged by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Photos: Matteo Damiani (2007)