The sandstone plateaus of China's Zhangjiajie Forest Park are said to have inspired the sci-fi film Avatar. The Wulingyuan forest with its dreamlike thousand-metre-tall pillars and swirling mists make lead to the illusion of floating islands and impossible karst formations.
The formations have been inspiring artists and painters for hundreds of years – however more contemporary architects have been moved by the mountains to create giant tourism attractions and experiences.
The bravest of tourists can be whisked up 300metres of cliff face in 88 seconds flat in the Bailong 'Hundred Dragons' lift. Or, get the impression of walking on air on the nearby Glass Bridge, which was opened in 2016.
The controversial and colossal lifts were halted in construction many times. Since beginning work on the lifts in 1999 the structures were criticized by UNESCO for what allowing "creeping urbanisation" into the heritage site.
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Having fought an uphill battle over the impact on the natural surroundings, the elevators were again stopped for 10 months in 2002 over "safety concerns" from the Ministry of Construction, according to national news agencies.
However through persistence the three double-decker elevator carriages were allowed to return to operation. Persistence paid off, and the area was reclassified as a world heritage site in 2002. in 2015 it was officially recognised in the Guinness Book Of World Records – over a decade after local operators had begun claiming the title of World's Tallest Outdoor Elevator.
Guinness lists the total daily capacity at "18,000" visitors. However, it has since been shut again, more recently by the pandemic.
The area has been closed since China's national travel restrictions came into force during the emergence of the Novel Coronavirus. The public have still been able to access the top of the Karst formation called the "Soldiers Gathering" but it is a gruelling three hour ascent.
Since reopening, the 8000 average daily visitors is slightly down since the pre-pandemic peak. However they are all happy to pay the 129 yuan ($27) each to spare the hike.