Hidden away 200km northwest of Yichang in Hubei’s far west, Shennongjia Forest Reserve encloses a rugged chain of mountains, culminating in the 3053m-high Da Shennongjia, the tallest peak in central China. The area has been famed for its plant life ever since the legendary Xia king Shennong – credited with introducing mankind to farming, medicine and tea – scoured these heights for herbs. More recently, the plant hunter Ernest Wilson found several new species here in the early twentieth century. And more fancifully, Shennongjia has been the setting for numerous sightings of the Chinese wild man – even if he eludes you, there’s a chance of seeing endangered golden monkeys here.

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