Gansu Province (5) : Zhangye

Dear readers,

After history, temples and culture, today I want to discover the unique landscapes of Gansu province.  In fact that is the reason for my trip altogether..  I had seen on the internet that the area has some unique geological parks.  Most particular I really wanted to see the incredible Rainbow Mountains : a miraculous geological freak of nature that transformed this area into a fairytale multicolored candy land.

Binggou Geological Park

I didn’t know that there were several parks, with different landscapes and geological formations.  I notice while we are driving that the landscape becomes rougher and rockier as we approach the Binggou National Park.

Behind the entrance a small open shuttle bus is waiting to take the visitors deeper into the park.  It’s not busy and we wait for about 15 minutes before all the seats are taken.  I am surprised how little known this park is, because I realize right away that this park is quite unique.

The red and yellow calcerous rocks are partially hidden at first behind the golden leafs of the trees in early autumn.20151005_143725A face in the rocks seems to look at me, but soon there are no more trees to be seen and the road becomes rougher. There is still plenty of low bushes everywhere so the park looks very green.

The area was formed tens of millions of years ago, and today wind and water erosion have left strangely formed rocks and pillars in a landscape that reminded me of the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley in Arizona, USA.

It is a green canyon with spectacular red-brown rockformations towering high on top of green hills like castles or palaces.  Some look like birds, like the peacock in Devil City, Dunhuang.  But the scenery is very different. Mountainous and very green.

A tourist path leeds to a number if viewing platforms in this large park.  It is easy to catch a bus on the main road that leads further into the park and back to the entrance.  From the tourist path, many small trails lead into the hills and mountains and past the monumenral rocks.  I can see it is quite easy to get lost here if you deviate from the main tourist pathway.20151005_151134I choose a different path than most other tourists and head a little deeper into the park on a small path.  I don’t want to wonder of too much, so I keep an eye on the road i followed.

The sky is getting overcast while I follow a beautiful path with amazing views of the valley below.  It really is a unique and landscape.  As if you are in another planet.  And than I hadn’t seen the rainbow mountains yet.

So I continue my way down to the main road were a few other tourist await the shuttle at a bus stop.  I start to worry about the weather a bit.  I had read that you see the colors of the rainbow mountains best in the sunshine.. in the morning or the evening light.  Preferably after a rainy day…  pffff so many parameters need be in place…

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Danxia Rainbow Mountains

It is not a far drive to the entrance of the main Danxia Geological Park.  Another UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Again I notice the landscape changing.  From time to time I see already some different colors in the layered rocks.  A little taste of what was still to come…

By the time I arrived at the entrance of the park, it is already afternoon.  On top of that the sky is cloudy and overcast. But occasionally the sun breaks through the clouds, so I hope I get lucky to take some nice pictures.  Either way, I will return the next day for the sunrise, so if the weather is ok, I will have the opportunity to see the mountains in morning and afternoon light.  Tomorrow sure it will be a sunny day!

On the way to the entrance of the park, I had already spotted some colorful mountains nearby, and now that I am standing here, I noticed they weren’t really that far away.  Maybe a few hundred meters.

But there is no path going there, and going back to the main road was even further out.  It’s just a field with no fence and just outside the park.  A concrete gutter goes inyo the right direction, so I follow it.  There us no water in it, and the borders are wide enough to easily walk through the shrub and bushes.

I wasn’t mistaken.  The mountains in front of me are beautiful and multicolored.  I get a little closer for a few pictures behind a field of colorful flowers and the mountains in the background.

Interesting flowers, by the way.. As a friend of mine pointed out…  But the area was deserted, so I quickly scout the area for a few images away from the tourists before I return to the entrance for visiting the actual park and its amazing natural wonders.

Till next post !



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