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Danxia Rainbow Mountains, China
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China: Danxia Rainbow Mountains
2019

Danxia Rainbow Mountains Binggou GeoPark
Danxia Rainbow Mountains, China

 

Stunning colours in this spectacular landscape.

 

Danxia Rainbow Mountains

Huacheng International Hotel in Zhangye
Lobby of the Huacheng International.
Everywhere that we travelled there was evidence of the upcoming celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China.

Huacheng International Hotel in Zhangye
The apricot-mushroom-cow-willow dish was very nice.

 

We had been in Jiayuguan to see the Fortress and the Overhanging Wall and the train had brought us to Zhangye. Zhangye lies in the Hexi Corridor where the ancient Silk Road headed north west from its beginnings in Xi'an.

Huacheng International Hotel in Zhangye
Beer, in wine glasses, tea, in tall glasses, and yogurts.

We were staying at the Huacheng International Hotel in Zhangye, very modern and a beautiful room. We had had some difficult experiences trying to get dinner throughout our time in travelling in the far west of China, so were prepared for much of the same but very pleasantly surprised by a brightly lit restaurant, people already eating (had experienced one or two very dim, empty restaurants) and with the usual private dining rooms around the sides.

The staff were able to help us with Internet translating so we were quickly served with our requested beers plus tea and yogurts!

The extensive menu had very helpful illustrations and even English translations, after a fashion, but very helpful and much better than we'd seen elsewhere - one of the waitresses even spoke English! We ordered apricot-mushroom-cow-willow which was very nice.

Drum and Bell Tower, Zhangye
Ming Dynasty Drum and Bell Tower, Zhangye

When we were finished and ready to leave the waitress guided us back to the lifts, which were all of 10m away.

The following morning, after a very good breakfast, we had an 8 am start, first walking up the main street to the Bank of China to get money, then on up to the big roundabout around the Drum and Bell Tower where our driver picked us up.

Drum and Bell Tower, Zhangye
Flower fields on the way to Danxia.
Drum and Bell Tower, Zhangye
Ming Dynasty watchtower.

It was about an hour's drive to Danxia, flower fields almost all the way including sunflowers and masses and masses of cosmos. Our guide said they are used in cosmetics, perfumes and medicines. Also a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) watchtower which I took a photo of on the way back.

The "Rainbow Mountains" are stunning. Coaches shuttle visitors to the four stops, no private vehicles are allowed. All the stops have fabulous views but the fourth is spectacular.

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park - Stop 1.

The colours everywhere are beautiful, deep brick reds and oranges, with white strata running through them in tilted layers and folds, a testament to millions of years of geological upheaval.

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

I particularly like the striped colours in the rocks. They reminded me a bit of the marbling we had seen in the carved-out caves at Petra in Jordan.

Danxia Geological Park


Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park - Stop 1.
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park - Stop 2.
Danxia Geological Park

At Stop 2, as well as vibrant colours, there were some wonderful shapes in the mountains and layer upon layer of tilted rock strata.

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

The strata were formed 60 million years ago, according to the information board here, and are mainly composed of thin laminated shale, arenaceous rock and shale rock in red, purple, yellow, green, white and grey.

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

 

 

 

The majority of the rock is a purple red sandstone, appearing either more blue or more orange depending on the light. Just as amazing is the continuous changing forms within the landscape, hardly a smooth mountainside in sight, they're all fat, striated, elongated domes side by side.

 

Danxia Geological Park
"Monks Worship Buddha"
The humped white/edged domes are said to represent monks worshipping the Buddha, asleep on his back.



Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park - Stop 2.
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park - Stop 3.

 

Stop 3 was notable for more tilted layers in orange, brick red and grey.

Danxia Geological Park

 

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

 

 

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

 

The whole landscape here is busy with fantastic shapes and colours.

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park - Stop 3.
Danxia Geological Park

 

But the absolute showstopper is Stop 4. Unbelievable colours massed in a river valley and along the mountainsides.

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

 

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

 

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

 

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park

 

Danxia Geological Park
Danxia Geological Park - Stop 4.

 

Binggou GeoPark

Danxia fish noodles
"Fish" noodles.

 

We spent two and a half hours at Danxia and had lunch at the site before going on to Binggou. Have to say we thoroughly enjoyed the very tender sweet and sour pork! We also had small dishes of the local specialty, fish noodles - because the noodles are fish-shaped, not because there is any fish in the dish!

Danxia fish noodles
Superb sweet and sour pork.

Binggou was an added extra in our itinerary as we were booked on a later train than originally scheduled.

Binggou, lying in the northern foothills of the Qilian Mountains, is notable for natural rock sculptures - pinnacles and buttes. Though not as dramatic as Monument Valley it is impressive on a smaller scale.

Binggou GeoPark

The rock is actually a thick, red, sandy conglomerate formed 145-100 million years ago in a hot, dry climate. Around 36 million years ago the rocks became exposed due to upheavals in the land, and weathering over millennia produced the shapes we see today.

Binggou GeoPark
Binggou GeoPark
The "camel"!
Binggou GeoPark
Binggou GeoPark

 

Binggou GeoPark
Binggou GeoPark

There was a lot of very steep climbing here, up and down both sides of the canyon.

 

Binggou GeoPark
Binggou GeoPark

 


Binggou GeoPark
Binggou GeoPark
Binggou GeoPark
ruins
There is, perhaps, a small Buddhist cemetery closer to the mountains.

 

 

In driving to and from Binggou we had passed quite a number of ruined structures at the base of the mountains. Many small beehive and larger walled buildings.

ruins

 

ruins.
ruins

Very difficult to get decent photographs from the moving car, but intriguing!