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Ancient Limestone Formations in Ludi Wan (Reed Flute Cave)

Ancient Limestone FormationsView All Sizes

JOURNAL : September 1, 2012

Bizarre Lúdí Yán Reed Flute Cave

Guilin > Guangxi Province > China

Series Bizarre Lúdí Yán Reed Flute Cave

In the northwest of Guilin, just over the Taohuajiang (Peach Blossom River) on Ludi Road is the exquisite Lúdí Yán (Reed Flute Cave), situated within Guangming Hill next to Fragrant Lotus Pool.

Cave Popcorn in Reed Flute Cave

Cave PopcornView All Sizes

Bizarre Rock Formations in Reed Flute Cave, Guilin

Bizarre FormationsView All Sizes

Dripping Orange Cave Deposits

Dripping Orange Cave DepositsView All Sizes

Reed Flute Cave Ceiling

Cave CeilingView All Sizes

180 Million Years of Work

Tour guides hustle small groups through this cavernous masterpiece within a matter of minutes, yet the magnificent detail could be studied for years to determine how the water and limestone created such bizarre formations.

Of course, you can detach from a group and browse the natural sculptures at your leisure. My only huff was that although the lights projected onto the speleothems illuminated them quite nicely, I would have loved to see the cave brightly lit to show its true colors. It is possible that special arrangements could be made in the case of scientific evaluation. But for the average tourist, you are treated to the multi-colored, multi-textured eye candy you see here.

A few times I tried to use the flash on my camera, but it could not penetrate far into the depth of cavern, nor brighten much more than the immediate vicinity. However, It revealed that the rocks are the expected earthen colors of tan, brown and reddish hues and still naturally beautiful compared to the almost garish neon colors used throughout the cavern.

The lighting is very well done, making the experience more awe-inspiring than simply inspecting a bunch of curious old rocks like a geologist. It's mind-boggling how amazing trickling water can be just seeping through limestone and depositing particles of rock over hundreds of millions of years.

Entrance to Lúdí Yán Reed Flute Cave, Guilin

Entrance to Lúdí YánView All Sizes

The sign out front

The sign out frontView All Sizes

How to Get There

If you're in Guilin then you're almost there. The Reed Flute Cave is such a popular destination that any hotel concierge or tour agency can get you through the entrance for a modest markup. Ask any taxi to take you there. Be sure that your taxi is metered, or negotiate your price before you get in, Tons of taxis whizz around this busy city and it's okay to walk away and find another one if you suspect the driver is overcharging you.

Lúdí Yán Reed Flute Cave has its own huge parking lot and tourist center, where you buy your ticket. Then you walk around to the left of all that and follow the road until you see the trail going up the hill.

New Construction Scaffolding in front of Reed Flute Cave

New Construction ScaffoldingView All Sizes

The entrance was under construction while I was there. A complex structure of scaffolding was attached to the hillside. They were putting in some new tourist facilities and what appeared to be double elevators.

Pavilion on Fragrant Lotus Pool (fang lian chi) in front of the entrance to Reed Flute Cave

Pavilion on Fragrant Lotus Pool (fang lian chi)View All Sizes

Fragrant Lotus Pool (Fang Lian Chi)

On the south side, facing the hill that Lúdí Yán is inside, is the peaceful Fang Lian Chi, or Fragrant Lotus Pool. Bamboo rafts drift about on its placid surface, musicians congregate in its pavilions, and beautiful Chinese girls stroll down its walkways under lovely umbrellas.

Map of Reed Flute Cave

Psychadelic Rock Formations in Reed Flute Cave

Psychadelic Rock FormationsView All Sizes

Limestone Speleothems in Reed Flute Cave

Limestone SpeleothemsView All Sizes

Strange-Looking Columns

Strange-Looking ColumnsView All Sizes

A Brief History

The strange limestone formations of Lúdí Yán are result of the porous karst landscape in and around Guilin. Limestone in this area was once prehistoric sea floor deposits or coral reefs that were fossilized and compressed over hundreds of millions of years. Tectonic shifts and geological upheavals forced fissures into the rock that allowed water to percolate through, shaping caverns and galleries with the peculiar stalagmites, stalactites and columns present in Reed Flute Cave.

Stalagmites and Stalactites

Stalagmites and StalactitesView All Sizes

So that's ancient history. In the time of humans, Reed Flute Cave has been a well-known attraction since at least the 8th century A.D. during the Tang Dynasty, according to the 77 inscriptions within the cave.

In recent times the cave served as a hideout or air-raid refuge for Guilin's residents during the Japanese invasions during World War II. Not a bad placed to be holed up for awhile... as long as there's food and light.

Lúdí Yán has some 500 meters of tunnels winding through it, and is said to be 240 meters long. It is called Reed Flute Cave due to the ludi cao reeds that grow outside and can be made into melodious flutes.

At the deepest level of the cave is an underground lake where all the water that carved the formations must drain to. This lake provides one of the most iconic images of Lúdí Yán.

Psychadelic Rock Formations in Reed Flute Cave

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Bizarre Lúdí Yán Reed Flute Cave

September 1, 2012

Guilin > Guangxi Province > China

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