The Honghe Hani Rice Terraces extend for nearly a 1,000sqkm over the slopes of the Ailao Mountains in Yunnan, a province of southwestern China. They’ve been cultivated for 1,300 years by the Hani, one of 26 officially recognised minority groups who live in Yunnan (nearly half the
Once based on the plains of northwest China, the Hani were pushed south into the mountains and had to find a way to survive; their system of terraces created more arable land and reduced soil erosion, allowing rice to grow. Today, they farm as they have for centuries, passing skills and knowledge down from generation to generation. It’s a hard life – with the help of water buffalo, they work the fields by hand in summer and, in winter, they cover them with water for protection and to make new terraces.
For me, the area is a magical place and the connection between the people and nature is amazing. The Hani are animistic and believe the spirits of the forefathers, the sky, wind and water are all around, bringing protection and prosperity. Photographs can’t convey how vast the landscape is; I was shocked when I first saw it. If you are lucky and the fields are full of water and there is no mist, you can see sunrise and sunset reflected in them.
This is a place to visit at least once in your life – for nature-lovers, it is akin to seeing the Great Wall of China.