Libo County is under jurisdiction of Qiannan Buyi and Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Guizhou Province, neighbouring Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Located in the southeast of Libo, Maolan State-level Karst Nature Reserve is composed of the Watery Karst Forest Zone in the southeast, the Scientific Touring Area of Xiaoqikong Karst Forest, and Wuzhensong Reserve of Dongting Village of Jialiang Town. The total area is 21,285 hectares, with 5,827 hectares as the core area, 8,910 hectares as the buffering zone, and 4,588 hectares as the experimental area.
It’s seldom known to people in China that the Karst forests of Maolan began to be patronised by overseas explorers and tourists in the 1980s; and to cross these Karst forests still remains great challenge to people even today. In the campaign of “Selecting the Most Beautiful Places of China”, sponsored by China National Geography in 2005, Libo County ranked second among China’s famous mountains and places, and was laurelled “China’s Most Beautiful Forest”.
The primitive forests, watery forest, and “funnel” forest, all of which were together honoured as “Libo’s Three Wonders”, have survived the barren and fragile Karst natural environment though scattering in different areas (some on hills, some in water and some in natural pit etc). This can be counted as a miracle of harmony between man and nature.
According to the integration of the Karst topographical features and the forest types, the Karst primitive forests of Libo can be divided into four categories: (1)-Funnel Forest, (2)-Depression Forest, (3)-Basin Forest, and (4)-Trough Valley Forest.
Featuring Karst funnel peaks, it is covered with dense, lush vegetation; and blocked from outside world by mountains/hills surrounding, it has funnel-like dolines at the bottom that resemble to a huge green den. With a height difference of 150-300 meters from the bottom of the funnel to the tops of karst peaks, the funnel forest is seldom visited by humans so everything inside has remained original.
It’s a Karst depression with high vegetation coverage, and farmlands and cottages scattering here and there. With local homes “inlaid” among green Karst peaks, limpid water gushing out from Karst springs and subterranean rivers, picturesque sceneries have been given to birth in such a depression forest. And the Buyi ethic simple, wooden houses, stilted houses, bridges, and yet the riverlets add much to the scenic values of the depression forest.
It is a basin or valley with high vegetation coverage, and erecting isolate Karst peak(s). In such a flat and expansive basin forest, there are fertile lands with subterranean rivers emerging now and then; and with a considerable acreage of luxuriant forests, it has given birth to spectacular landscapes.
(4)-Trough Valley Forest
It is a Karst basin or valley with high vegetation coverage, where dense forests grow, giant rocks are twisted with rattans, and nearby Karst peaks can be seen towering. Such a valley, which is irregular in width and length, exhibits mysterious and serene sceneries with subterranean rivers emerging at times in the bottom, disorderly Karst peaks, and uneven distributed vegetation.
The water flows on rocks overgrown with trees, which is the scene normally called “Another Wonder of Libo”: the watery forest. Most trees, which are at least one hundred years old and have combined with huge rocks, have remained prosperous with their roots exposed to the water.
In addition, the watery forest at Xiaoqikong is a rare but ideal place to go. Here you will witness the forests that are coupled by green water. Boating among the forests-shrouded waters, you will find masses of Dipteris conjugate (double-leave fern) compete to sprout, and towering trees have combined with rocks so that they have survived floods.
And boating in the 700-metre-long waterway of Yuanyang Lake where many branches are low enough to reach the water, you’ll get a good chance to enjoy the serenity of the greenish blue water.