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The Shilin Stone Forest, Yunnan

Another of Yunnan’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the ‘Stone Forest’ lies in the Shilin Yi Autonomous County some 2 hrs drive from Kunming City.

Stone Forest, overall view
Stone Forest, overall view

Formerly the bed of a shallow sea, over hundreds of millions of years the sandstone and limestone rocks have been carved by the wind and the rain to form this spectacular labyrinth of odd jagged pinnacles, balancing stones, rock pools, caves, tunnels and  boulders that is today known aptly as the ‘Stone Forest’. (It covers some 400 sq kms in total!)

Stone Forest, 'rock curtains'
Stone Forest, ‘rock curtains’

The ‘Forest’ is also an area sacred to the local Yi people (see Yuanyang post) and most of the local staff and guides are Yi who’ll take great delight in regaling you with tales of lovelorn princesses turned to stone!

Yi guides waiting for punters
Yi guides waiting for punters
Yi woman collecting firewood
Yi woman collecting firewood

Yi woman collecting firewood in the stone labyrinth. Below a selection of images of some of the amazing stone features.

Curious rock formations
Curious rock formations
Rock pools
Rock pools
Tree-like pinnacles
Tree-like pinnacles
Balancing boulders
Balancing boulders
Pine forest
Pine forest
Lush vegetation amongst the rocks
Lush vegetation amongst the rocks
Kunming, stone forest
Kunming, stone forest
Kunming, stone forest
Kunming, stone forest

A visit to the Stone Forest is included in both our 3 week South of the Clouds tour and our 2 week Yunnan Discovery itinerary.  We generally time our visit for later in the afternoon when the light is better and there’s not many people about and that also means we can stop for dinner at the town of Yilian on the way back to Kunming, which is very conveniently placed on our return route and just happens to be famous for its awesome roast duck! Crispy roast duck pancakes and an iced Tsingtao round off the day perfectly! Cheers!

Stone Forest, Yi woman sewing
Stone Forest, Yi woman sewing

Cheers!