Location: Huangshan, China
When imagining Rivendell, the sylvan citadel of the elf lord Elrond, Tolkien supposedly thought of the mountainous valleys of Switzerland. TIME has an even more atmospheric suggestion: the mountains and glens of Huangshan, in central-eastern China. A hiker in Huangshan can be forgiven for thinking he has stumbled into the land that time forgot its bumpy, strangely shaped peaks wreathed in mist and lush forests that plummet into impossibly steep gorges below. With myriad precarious mountain paths and a fog that sets in without notice, navigating Huangshan can be bewildering, even treacherous. Reachable only over bridges and narrow causeways, Rivendell, too, is kept safe by its dramatic surrounds.
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