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    Novel park provides exciting experience
Te Kan
2006-03-17 05:50

The Shishan Geopark is located in a well-known dormant volcanic zone, 15 kilometres southwest of downtown Haikou, capital of South China's Hainan Province. It is one of the few volcano clusters that were active in China 10,000 years ago.

The park has seen increasing popularity in recent months after the Ministry of Land and Resources designated it as a national geopark on January 7.

Since then, the number of visitors to the park has tripled to more than 1,000 on a daily basis. During the latest Spring Festival, the park received about 3,000 visitors a day.

Despite the rising number of tourists, the park's service and quality of tourism facilities remain guaranteed, according to the park's authorities.

"We haven't received any complaints from the visitors this year," said a park official.

The visitors' satisfaction is a result of careful preparations. Efforts were made to renovate existing facilities and add new scenic spots.

The newly added scenic spots include venues for exhibiting volcanic remains and holding folk art performances as well as a garden. In the new outdoor exhibition zone, more than 100 large volcanic rocks of different kinds are on display.

Nature's bounty

The zone, covering an area of about 108 square kilometres, has 40 kinds of dormant volcanoes and more than 30 lava tube caves.

Apart from the spectacular views in the park, tourists can also enjoy the top-quality mineral water and hot springs for a spa experience.

Local villages with a long tradition of building basalt-made houses and planting tropical plants, give tourists a true experience of ancient and ethnic cultures.

The peak of the park, Ma'anling (saddle mountain), won its name thanks to its twin volcanoes. A pavilion at the top of the volcano provides a bird's-eye view of the coastal city of Haikou and the Qiongzhou Strait.

The Ma'anling volcanoes are the biggest among all volcano clusters that were active between 27,000 to 1 million years ago in the region. They are so well preserved that geologists named them one of the best volcano museums in China.

The north peak has an altitude of 222.2 metres and the south peak 186.75 metres, both surrounded by more than 30 smaller sized hills, which were formed after the eruption of the volcanoes.

Below the ground, this park is a showcase of the earth's awesome wonders. Thanks to the movement of magma during the eruption of the volcanoes, 72 limestone caves were once formed. At present, two caves have been developed for visitors - Wolong Cave and Xianren Cave.

Wolong Cave is seven metres high and 3 kilometres long. Huolong Cave, or Fire Dragon Cave, which is expected to open to the public soon, will offer larger space and more adventure.

The park aims to attract tourists from all over the world.

Currently, the Shishan Geopark and two other sites in South China are jointly bidding for World Geopark status as the Leiqiong Parks. The other two are the Huguang Rock in Guangdong Province and Weizhou Island in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The expert panel of the United Nation's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization will announce its decision in autumn, the park authorities said.

(China Daily 03/17/2006 page6)


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