Lashi Wetland Park
Lashi Wetland Park, also named the National Wetland Park, is 10 km or 30-minute drive from Lijiang Old Town. Horse riding and boating and winter bird watching are the major activities here.
The classic horse riding route rolls along historic Horse Tea Trail. The steep, weathered path still is luring with the dense forest, lake and waterfalls, serene temple as well as the local Naxi farming life in the little village. The groups of horse riders, tinkle of horse bells and the wild singing of the horse man may give you an illusion of the ancient traders' horsing journey. The horse ride, preferred by the Chinese tourists, has become a bit commercialized like the photographer take and sell you your picture on some spots, the local villagers sell the horse snacks or the goods stores are scattered on the trail. If it is your first time to do the horse ride, better not to make it long since the bumpy ride on the horse back can easily make you feel sore and avoid the ride in the rainy time. A guide or a Chinese-speaking companion is advised to do the ride since most of the horse men don't speak English and to better bargain down the ripped-off offer. Sunray protection should also be prepared for this highland horse ride.
You then can relax the ride soreness by sitting back in the pole boat on the lake. Snow mountain reflection on the emerald ripple, the scattered standing willows, low azure sky, the fishing birds can gild the boating experience. You may also be surprised to find out your horse men exerting their making-money sense by turning into the boatmen or overpriced-grilled-fish sellers.
Bird watching annually starts from December to February. Lashi Lake is the wetland shelter for over 57 kinds, 30,000 immigrant birds and some of them are the protected species like the black-neck Crane. It is impressive to see thousands of birds occupying everywhere, on the misty lake surface, on the willows, in the sky or even the backdrop hills. They clean up, fish for meal, flutter the wings or sport with their species. A boat ride can give you close-up of the birds. Early morning and late afternoon are the most ideal time for bird flocks and lake scenery. And yet the deteriorating water quality, excessive water withdrawal to supply the Lijiang Old Town and local unlimited fishing have made the bird resources plummet and habitat environment worsen. Social and official attention and action is required to make this remaining bird' heaven last, and last long.
Nature life beauty can be experienced in the lake area and it is a nice side trip from Lijiang to stay away from the town bustle and hustle.