Guizhou, a Chinese province in the southwest of the country, is a favorite destination among domestic vacationers. Few tourists from overseas, however, visit. But this may be about to change with a new attraction that’s twice as long as Manhattan and floats, majestically, on the Hongshui River.
Guizhou is popular because of its undeniably magical, almost otherworldly, landscapes. Indeed, its green hills, soaring limestone mountains, cascading waterfalls and huge caves give it something of a fairytale quality.
On New Year’s Day 2017, heralded by a spectacular fireworks display, Guizhou unveiled something altogether more man-made. And this 31-mile-long floating walkway is so vast that it takes ten hours to walk end to end.
The walkway is kept afloat by more than 200,000 fixtures attached to the riverbed. And these allow the entire walkway to seamlessly adapt to the changing water levels of the river.
But the walkway isn’t just a straightforward pathway that leads from A to B. Indeed, it curves and loops, creating intriguing patterns that are only properly visible from the air. You can, in fact, walk around the maze-like structure for hours without ever taking the same route.
In fact, the biggest section of the walkway stretches for just over three miles. And that’s long enough for the structure to gain entry into Guinness World Records as the world’s longest floating walkway.
During daytime, shows are staged on and around the walkway to keep visitors entertained. Aerial gymnasts, for example, use hydro jet packs to wow onlookers. Such cutting-edge technology allows performers to zoom skywards and execute impressive mid-air maneuvers.
The jet packs employ jet-ski technology to turn the river water as a propellant. And it’s this that sends performers high into the air – much to the delight of the walking-on-water onlookers.
Other shows include jaw-dropping displays of synchronized water skiing. And if such sights whet visitors’ appetites, they’re free to take part in a variety of water sports themselves – right beside the walkway.
Younger visitors are catered for, too. Chances are, in fact, that they’ll head straight towards the walkway’s unmissable giant rubber duck, which sits alongside a variety of other floating funfair attractions.
When the sun goes down, the walkway becomes even more eye-catching. Indeed, it’s lit up by thousands of colored lamps, which resemble gorgeous flowers. Meanwhile, elaborate laser and fireworks displays illuminate the night sky above.
The Chinese authorities hope that the mammoth structure will encourage more tourists to visit. And the early signs are promising; within its first week of opening, the walkway received some 60,000 visitors.
The structure, which stretches over 13 acres, is specifically located in Luodian County as part of a designated “tourist resort.” And its construction is the latest stage of a large-scale investment program in a region that’s already welcomed the mammoth Longtan Dam.
As well as the waterway’s amazing attractions, visitors have the majestic mountain backdrop to admire. And these impressive peaks, which look practically within touching distance, draw visitors from right across China.
Talking to Chinese TV channel CCTV+, visitor Wang Panpan said, “We have been taking photos since we got here. We also put videos we filmed here in our WeChat friend circles, and many friends said that they also want to come here after seeing the videos.”
Luodian County authorities, for their part, are especially keen to attract winter visitors. And with the region’s relatively high temperatures, they believe that this remarkable waterway can become a true year-round attraction.
The walkway was, in fact, commissioned by the Chengdu VENI Tourism Development Corporation and constructed by the Shanghai Qihua Water Engineering Construction Company. And the latter has said that the engineering techniques it utilized were similar to those used to build yacht docks, floating restaurants and sightseeing platforms.
If you do manage to visit this amazing floating walkway, you’ll find that Guizhou has many other extraordinary attractions. In particular, there is the giant Zhijin Cave, which extends for more than six miles. Some of its chambers, in fact, are more than 500 feet high.
Chinese planners clearly have a taste for monumental engineering projects. In August 2016, for example, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge was unveiled. This hair-raising structure is 1,400 feet long and a nerve-wracking 1,000 feet high – and visitors can see straight through it as they walk across.
So perhaps this beautiful corner of China, still little known to the outside world, will soon start to receive a steady flow of overseas visitors – thanks to its extraordinary new attraction. Indeed, looking at this astonishing feat of modern technology and its magnificent mountain backdrop, this is easy to believe.