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Mengda Nature Reserve

 Located around 110km southeast of Xining in the Xunhua Sala Autonomous Prefecture, the Mengda Nature Reserve (Mengda ziran baohuqu) is a flourishing area of natural beauty, contrasting sharply with the great swathes of sterile land that cover Qinghai Province. The reserve, centered around the mountaintop Heavenly Lake (Tianchi) has forests of virgin trees, a large variety of exotic flowers and many wild animals, that make it good for hiking and boating.
    It is the climate here, both wet and mild, that has caused the nickname of the lake, the "highland Xishuangbanna", and the area deserves such praise. Within the reserve, there are varieties of plantlife including rare trees (Chinese Fir, Ridgepole and varieties of Pine) and herbs (Ginseng, Pseudo-Ginseng and Caladium) and from the highlight, the lake, there are a few roaring waterfalls that are sure to impress. The lake is also filled with a local fish, somewhat like a transparent shrimp, that can be caught with a sweep of the hand through the lake's green waters.
    In recent years the reserve has become a bit more popular on the tourist trail and so has not such a peaceful atmosphere as it once harboured. It is still possible to enjoy the place, however, protected as it is from mass tourism by its remote location. You can ride a horse from the foot of the mountain which will take you on a three hour round trip via the top (not counting getting off to boat, hike or do other activities).
    How to get Mengda Nature Reserve : From the long-distance bus station in Xining, or alternatively from Gansu Province's Linxia, take a bus that goes to either Guanting or Xunhua (Xunhua Autonomous Prefecture). The journey should cost around RMB30-40. From either of these towns it is possible to hire a taxi, hire a jeep or hitch a ride on to the reserve. Accommodation: It is possible to get accommodation, from tents in the reserve, or in the nearby towns. 
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