Zhalong National Nature Reserve
Zhalong National Nature Reserve (扎龙自然保护区) is in Heilongjiang province.
Twenty-six km from Qiqihar is an excellent bird-watching center with 269 kinds of birds. It is also known as the "Land of the Cranes" because it is the natural habitat for 6 of the world's 15 breeds of cranes.
Flora and fauna
Highlights in the nature reserve are storks, swans, geese, ducks, herons, grebes, egrets and the rare red-crowned crane.
Zhalong Nature Reserve is easy to access from Qiqihaer. Bus 306 leaves from the corner of Longsha Lu and Zhanqian Dajie, about one block north from the train station. Look for "Zhalong" (扎龙) on the bus signs. If there are no buses there, you can take a 3-wheeled motorcyle taxi (tuk-tuk) or normal taxi about five or ten minutes to Dagangzi (大岗子) and find a bus there. Buses usually wait in the parking lot on the right hand side of the road near the gas station. A round-trip ticket should cost ¥20, and the trip out takes about 40 minutes.
As of June 2017, Bus 306 leaves from a small lot on Longnan Jie, a north-south street in Qiqihar that is four major streets west of the downtown train station. Look for a distinctive dull orange tall building on Longhua visible down the street from the train station - Longnan is just past that. The lot is on Longnan just south of Anzhi Lu (a few hundred feet south of Longhua) and is on the east side of the street. It is in an area with a lot of auto parts stores. This can be walked from the main train station (or hotels nearby) if one is not in a hurry - no real need for a taxi or the name "Dagangzi". The bus leaves every half hour. 20 RMB and 40-50 minutes for a ride to Zhalong remains accurate.
¥75 entrance fee pays for entrance to the park and a ride from the entrance to the crane viewing area. You can also pay ¥50 for a twenty-minute-boat ride around the lake in the park. It is also possible to pay 65 RMB for admission only, and walk ten minutes to the crane area rather than a 3-minute ride on a glorified golf cart. However, they will expect you to buy both the admission and ride (separate tickets) and will look surprised if you pay them 65 RMB even though this price is clearly listed on the ticket window.
Many different kinds of birds live in this beautiful marsh and grassland, including about 400 of the world's 2000 red-crowned cranes. The crane viewing area is a short walk from the entrance. The cranes are kept in enclosures there, but are released to fly free and eat food four times a day. As of August 2015, the cranes were released at 10:10, 11:10, 2:30, and 3:30 but times may change. Don't let the fact that the birds are kept in pens dissuade you. As you walk out to the crane viewing area, you can spot ducks, terns, herons, geese, and many other birds. It's not like a zoo or an aviary, and when you see the cranes fly over your head it's amazing.
There are a few shops selling trinkets near the front gate and a trinket shop next to the crane viewing area.
There are only a couple of stands at the park selling drinks, and the park is located far from any restaurants, so you had better eat before you come.
There are no sleeping options at the park. It is best to stay the night in Qiqihar.
Mosquito repellent is a must!!!
The last bus of the 306 line departs Zhalong for Qiqihar at around 5:00 pm.