Zhalong Nature Reserve


Zhalong Nature Reserve near Qiqiha'er is the most accessible and most visited of the nature reserves established to protect endangered species of wild cranes in Northeastern China. The reserve is home to some 260 bird species, including several types of rare cranes. Four of the species that migrate here are on the endangered list: the extremely rare red-crowned crane, the white-naped crane, the Siberian crane and the hooded crane.

The reserve comprises some 2100 sq km of wetlands that are on a bird migration path extending from the Russian Arctic down into Southeast Asia. Hundreds of birds arrive in April and May, rear their young from June to August and depart in September and October. Unfortunately, a significant percentage of the birds you can see live are in captivity and are periodically released so that visitors can take photos.

The best time to visit Zhalong is in spring. In summer the mosquitoes can be more plentiful than the birds – take repellent! To get here, head to Qiqiha'er and board bus 306 (¥20, 45 minutes, half-hourly) from Darunfa (大润发). Birds are released at 9.30am, 11am, 2pm and 3.30pm. From the ticket booth, you can take a return a minibus (¥10) or walk the 800m.