Afternoon discovery of Guilin Elephant Trunk Hill

2011-06-10China travel Guide

Living in Guilin is like living in a world made of amazing nature where karstic hills and mountains rise straightly out of the ground everywhere near to the pristine Li River. Here you can meet friendly and interesting Chinese people who are willing to share their knowledge about their city. Furthermore, it is a paradise for discovering colorful culture and food as well!

Talking about Guilin’s topography, I think that this was what is first striking when arriving in this charming southern China city: Guilin hills! Just before landing at the airport, by a clear weather the sight is just amazing and – believe me – addicting! Yes, once encountered the city’s gorgeous scenery, you’ll have a hard time leaving it as this is for me one of the best place I have ever been in China, and maybe even in the world.

Decided to discover the city based on this topic, one of the first visits to make in Guilin is the Elephant Trunk Hill (象鼻山). The site is located very close to the downtown, at the south of the city, by the Li River, just near to the Liberation Bridge (解放桥Jie Fang Qiao), so reaching it is some of the easiest things to do using namely buses (No.2, 57 or 58) or even taxis. Elephant Trunk Hill is a must-see when touring Guilin or just living here as this is indeed the official symbol of the city.

When entering the park, the first sight comes into view is a huge wall decorated with Chinese ancient characters of "elephant" (象xiang). But why elephants? Are there elephants in Guilin? No, the elephant is famous here for the mountain’s karstic formation looking indeed surprisingly like an elephant dipping its trunk into the river. This is indeed one of the coolest things to see in Guilin, this natural rock formation lying at the junction of Li River and the Peach Blossom River is one of the most famous one in the city, giving visitors some amazing photo shots opportunities especially at dusk with the sunset giving a special color over the mountain and the water. The Shuiyue Cave (水月洞, Moon over the Water Cave) is maybe the most impressive and catchy sight you may meet in the site, where ancient inscriptions can be seen if renting one bamboo boat.

A visit to the Elephant Trunk Hill is also the chance to see some of the many attractions there starting with the Elephant statues park in itself, the old wine cellar cave and the Yunfeng Monastery. Still a bit small to my mind compared to what you can expect from a temple especially if you have already been visiting other places in China, the monastery is interesting to see. Following the way to the temple visitors can reach one of the stone staircases located on the right back of the Elephant Hill (another one being located on the left back, just before reaching the monastery, in front of the main entrance). With an elevation of 600 feet (200 m) above the water, this giant elephant towers over the Li River for some 55 meters. The climbing to the top of the hill is ok for those scared of being too weak but this is better to be used of efforts. You can easily have some rest and have a view over the great scenery of the Li River crossing the city from north to south. With the sunny weather and light of September (time I went there), the sightseeing is perfect. On the way tourists can see the Elephant Eye Cave, a cave located right at the site of the giant elephant’s eye. The cave itself has no much to see but is a good place to view over Guilin city. Finally arrived at the top, the scenery over Guilin city is just gorgeous and waiting for another surprise: another elephant mountain! What a strange but cool geology here, this is really from the top of Guilin hills that you can appreciate the unique topography of the city. On the top the old Puxian Pagoda built in Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644) still stands there, like a sword, hat or vase over the head of the elephant in a distance - this depends on everyone’s imagination, of course.

Discovering the park for the first time, I can assess that the scenery is impressive as this is one barely seen anywhere else in the world. For those looking for memorable pictures of this symbolic Guilin hill, my suggestion is to ride a bamboo boat that you can pay for a few yuans. The pictures will be 100% amazing, and the fishing bird that may accompany you on the boat will give an even more picturesque shot. Have a try!

--- By Sophie (Visit Our China)