National park that inspired Avatar has ‘floating’ mountains and towering cliffs

Anyone who has seen the latest Avatar film will have been blown away by the incredible beauty of Pandora – the alien planet it’s set on.

Whether you loved the film or not, the fantastic natural features, skylines and landscapes make us all with we could take a hike with Jake Sully.

Unfortunately, Pandora is, of course, a fantasy world – but there are places on Earth that inspired its design.

READ MORE: Inside the 'most alien looking place' on Earth with bizarre trees and animals

One such place is the majestic Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan Province, China.

While most of us have likely never heard of this UNESCO World Heritage Site it is thought to have inspired filmmaker James Cameron when he made the initial Avatar film.

In fact, Far Out Magazine states that Cameron “filmed footage of the mountains before editing them into the final movie in the form of the Hallelujah Mountain.”

Plus, The Southern Sky Column in Zhangjiajie was even renamed Avatar Hallelujah Mountain back in 2010 in commemoration of the film, according to BBC.

When you see photographs of the area… it’s easy to see where its influence was drawn into the film.

The enormous park was China’s first recognised national forest park – and it’s a huge 11,900 acres.

Within the park are a series of fascinating geographical features that you may never have seen before.

Most notably there are tall, pillar-like rock formations and cliffs that seem to stand alone without a wide foundation like most mountains and cliffs have.

The spindly columns are formed by the weather in the area – usually from the freezing and expansion of ice in the winter and plants that grow within the cracks.

Gazing at the massive columns of stone covered in dense vines it’s easy to see how they would have inspired the floating Hallelujah mountains seen on Pandora in the Avatar films!

If you do visit Zhangjiajie there are plenty of ways to experience the natural scenery.

The Bailong Elevator is the world’s tallest outdoor lift which stretches along the stone pillars to give visitors the best view.

It stands at 1,070ft tall and its name means the Hundred Dragons elevator.

It has a glass face to give you the best views and was constructed on a carefully chosen quartz sandstone cliff.

The lift takes just one minute and 32 seconds to reach to apex of the cliff.

You can also gaze around from the Zhangjiajie Glass footpath – a skywalk bridge that will make many people’s stomachs fill with butterflies at the thought of crossing it.

It’s 430metres long and 300 metres high set above the incredible National Park.

Those not afraid of heights can also take one of three gondola list systems in the park letting you ride in a cabe car among the mountains.

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The UK government does not currently advise against travel to China, but it’s important to note that the nation is experiencing “its largest COVID-19 outbreak” and “there may be an increased risk of infection”.

Tourists will need to take a PCR test to enter the country.

You will also need a visa to enter China, but visas are currently restricted to specific demographics.

You should always check current safety and coronavirus advice on the travel section of the website before booking and flying.


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