Zhangye – Geo­mor­pho­logic Land­scape Ex­em­plar

– Geo­mor­pho­logic Land­scape Ex­em­plar

China Today (English) - - CON­TENTS - By staff re­porter CHEN JING

Zhangye’s a nat­u­ral land­scape con­sists of Danxia land­forms, snowy moun­tains, grass­lands, forests, wet­lands, and deserts.

WHEN north­west China is men - tioned, it usu­ally evokes thoughts of wild deserts and des­o­late sand - storms. How­ever, a nat­u­ral land - scape con­sist­ing of Danxia land­forms, snowy moun­tains, grass­lands, forests, wet­lands and deserts lies along the an­cient Silk Road route: Zhangye, a his­toric city fea­tur­ing the charm of south­ern and western China.

Zhangye – City of Wa­ter

The Heihe River stretches along the city of Zhangye. Gath­er­ing snowmelt from the Qil­ian Moun­tains, and with plen­ti­ful ground­wa­ter runoff, the river forms count­less sea­sonal river branches and river bends. Through the cen­turies, its soubri­quet “Wa­ter town in the Gobi Desert” has ac­corded it wide recog­ni­tion. Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal proverbs and folk songs , the city is “half reeds, half tow­ers” and “half of the whole town lit by moun­tain light seems to be tow­ers and tem­ples amid reedy creeks.” Lo­cal an­nals record ponds at each step, and foun­tains and weep­ing wil­lows in ev­ery house­hold.

At present, in or­der to em­body its orig­i­nal style and nat­u­ral land­scape, as well as carry out eco­log­i­cal con­struc­tion of the Hexi Cor­ri­dor, Zhangye has ini­ti­ated con­ser­va­tion works for the Heihe River basin and wet­lands by build­ing Zhangye Na­tional Wet­land Park on the city’s north­ern sub­urbs. Sprawl­ing over 4,000 hectares, the na­tional AAAA scenic area com­bines sight­see-sight­see­ing, ed­u­ca­tion and con­ser­va­tion.

Here where reed-filled stream are lit by light re­flected from the moun­tains, wa­ter­fowl con­gre­gate. Vis­i­tors can take bat­tery cars or boats through the wet­lands, en­joy­ing this re­fresh­ing reser­voir of oxy­gen and its in­ti­macy be­tween hu­mans and na­ture. Vis­i­tors from both home and abroad can ram­ble with fam­ily mem­bers to rel­ish this gift of na­ture. Reeds as high as a per­son sway­ing in the wind cre­ate a habi­tat for wa­ter birds such as gulls and egrets. In sum­mer, ver­dant reeds, bluish lakes and gen­tle breezes dis­pel the burn­ing heat of the ar­dent sun. Closer to the ur­ban area the har­mony be­tween hu­mans and na­ture com­poses a can­vas where mod­ern life as­sim­i­lates with the nat­u­ral scenery in a tran­quil way.

The name Zhangye – which means open arms – is tes­ta­ment to its bridg­ing con­no­ta­tion at that time.

Scin­til­lat­ing Junc­tion of Deserts and Glaciers

Bound­less deserts are a unique and rep­re­sen­ta­tive tourism re­source in north­west China. In or­der to ex­ploit desert tourism, Zhangye is high­light­ing its Na­tional Desert Sports Park. Lo­cated 13 km to the south of the city, it is the desert out­door ac­tiv­ity park clos­est to an ur­ban area in the en­tire coun­try. To max­i­mize ex­ploita­tion of lo­cal sight­see­ing re­sources, the park has set up five func­tion zones for in­te­grated ser­vices, sports sight­see­ing, desert ex­plo­ration, and the Gobi ex­pe­ri­ence, as well as the sci­en­tific pop­u­lar­iza­tion of ecol­ogy in or­der to main­tain the orig­i­nal ecosys­tem. The park also boasts sev­eral race­tracks, such as a 26-km desert track and short rac­ing track. These tracks have many curves and slopes, plac­ing them among the most ad­vanced and chal­leng­ing auto rally cham­pi­onship sites in China. Dual-lane design im­parts to them full or­na­men­tal value, and makes for a per­fect plat­form for rac­ing fans at home and abroad to ap­pre­ci­ate the lo­cal land­scape while ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the thrilling driv­ing.

The tow­er­ing Qil­ian Moun­tains and their pure white snowy peaks stand in sharp con­trast to the desert. The magnificent Qil­ian Moun­tains not only fur­nish the Hexi area with abun­dant melt wa­ter, but also cre­ate a rare glacier tourism re­source. Three glaciers can now be reached di­rectly from Zhangye, in­clud­ing the renowned Qiyi and Bayi glaciers and the Bailanghe Glacier No.21, which was only dis­cov­ered in 2013 and lies just 100 km dis­tant from the city. The sublime grandeur of these glaciers is greatly mov­ing.

Where deserts meet glaciers, Zhangye al­ways of­fers pleas­ant sur­prises. These two con­trast­ing nat­u­ral land­scapes are ideal for sports en­thu­si­asts. Nowa­days, thanks to the pro­mo­tion of out­door

ac­tiv­i­ties, the num­ber of peo­ple who par­tic­i­pate in out­door sports in Zhangye is in­creas­ing by 30 per­cent an­nu­ally. Via mar­ket­ing and spe­cial­ized op­er­a­tions, the city boasts a num­ber of sports events, such as a moun­tain­ous-out­door sports chal­lenge, a hik­ing race, and a car rally cham­pi­onship, in ad­di­tion to snow sports. Vis­i­tors can bet­ter un­der­stand the city by ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its am­bi­ent nat­u­ral won­ders of deserts, glaciers and wet­lands.

Flame-Red Danxia Land­form

If Zhangye is likened to a gor­geous woman, then Danxia is the red make-up best ac­cen­tu­at­ing her un­ri­valled beauty. This kind of land­form is widely dis­trib­uted in Zhangye, and presents a typ­i­cal ex­am­ple of China’s col­or­ful Danxia, ac­claimed as one of the top 10 ge­o­log­i­cal won­ders in the world. Cov­er­ing an area of 529 square kilo­me­ters, the Zhangye Danxia Na­tional Ge­o­log­i­cal Park is a na­tional AAAA scenic spot, and a prospect from which to view the in­te­grated land­scapes of the Danxia land­form and its poly­chrome hills.

Danxia here is beau­ti­fully-hued and ex­erts a tremen­dous im­pact. Sun­set is the best time to ad­mire the land­form. The set­ting sun seems to be in­fat­u­ated with the color crim­son, as its dusk glow elab­o­rately dap­ples the red and gray-white rocks. Ser­ried hills zigzag to the hori­zon. Gilded rocks rear, flam­ing across the vast land­scape to con­tend in beauty and fas­ci­na­tion with the splen­did dusk clouds. The amaz­ing, gor­geous reds stip­pling the moun­tains are breath­tak­ing and stir the emo­tions. Bound­less heaven and earth form a huge pal­ette, and vis­i­tors also be­come vivid em­bel­lish­ments to this paint­ing.

At an el­e­va­tion of 1,820 me­ters, the “Col­or­ful Im­mor­tal Hill” is the park’s core at­trac­tion. The en­tire mas­sif looks like a flat dais, whose frac­tured sur­faces mix with vi­brant shades of red, yel­low, or­ange, white and gray. Dis­tinctly col­ored rock strata in­tri­cately in­lay the moun­tains. In sun­shine, each stra­tum gives off bril­liant rays, pre­sent­ing a scene like col­or­ful clouds. As the park’s most em­blem­atic land­scape, well-known both at home and abroad, the view can be found on ad­mis­sion tick­ets and in many brochures.

Danxia is a par­adise for shut­ter­bugs not just for its abun­dance of col­ors, but also its sur­pris­ingly beau­ti­ful land­form which gives free rein to the imag­i­na­tion. For ex­am­ple, a crag on a moun­tain ridge looks like a mon­key squat­ting, with a dark red and low hill­top in front. It is called the “mon­key view­ing a sea of fire” by fa­mous ge­og­ra­pher Huang Jin, a pro­fes­sor at Sun Yat-sen Univer­sity. In ad­di­tion, there are many fan­tas­tic land­scapes, which re­sem­ble gal­lop­ing ele­phants, nymphs and camel bells. The scenery of the land­form shifts as one moves, dis­play­ing var­i­ous views and of­fer­ing a unique sight­see­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Yanzhi Moun­tain

Yanzhi Moun­tain is a le­gendary place of ro­mance. An out­lier of the Qil­ian Moun­tains, it rises in the south­east of Shan­dan County. The main peak, Bai­hual­ing, is 3,978 me­ters above sea level. The name Yanzhi de­rives from a quaint leg­end. The moun­tain was orig­i­nally called “Rouge Moun­tain” be­cause it abounds in a flower whose juice looks just like rouge (yanzhi in Chi­nese, which though ho­mophonous, is writ­ten with dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters in the mod­ern name). Lo­cal women use it as a nat­u­ral cos­metic, hence the name. The name fits: the el­e­gant and pleas­ant moun­tain has lux­u­ri­ant veg­e­ta­tion, and is known as “Lit­tle Yel­low Moun­tain” in the Hexi Cor­ri­dor.

The moun­tain has en­joyed great fame since an­cient times. As early as the Spring and Au­tumn pe­riod, this em­i­nence was a na­tive pas­ture with flour­ish­ing plants. No­madic peo­ples such as the Di, Qiang and Xiongnu for­merly lived here. In 609, Em­peror Yangdi of the Sui Dy­nasty came here on an in­spec­tion tour and sum­moned en­voys from 27 khanates.

A panoramic view re­veals that dense, ver­dant, vir­gin for­est man­tles the en­tire mas­sif. Yanzhi Moun­tain Na­tional For­est Park, sit­u­ated 50 km to the south­west of the county town of Shan­dan, has been well de­vel­oped. Trav­el­ers can drive up its slopes on a wind­ing road, where an­cient pines line the way. A del­i­cate board­walk awaits vis­i­tors at road’s end. Walk­ing along it, one can ap­pre­ci­ate the beauty of high moun­tains. The sud­den ap­pear­ance of small wild an­i­mals adds an­i­ma­tion to this quiet moun­tain for­est.

Ram­bling here, the en­joy­ment of whistling winds and whis­per­ing wa­ters scat­ters work fa­tigue and ur­ban noise to the winds. Gaz­ing into the dis­tance, white clouds, green hills and the blue sky mag­nify one another’s beauty, of­fer­ing vis­i­tors a leisurely, com­fort­able stay.

Zhangye is an amaz­ing city boast­ing green moun­tains and rivers, vast deserts, ten­der grass­lands, wet­lands, and beau­ti­ful Danxia land­forms, as well as the magnificent Qil­ian Moun­tains. As a nat­u­ral won­der, the city is a par­adise for trav­el­ers from all over the world.

Zhangye is an amaz­ing city boast­ing green moun­tains and rivers, vast deserts, ten­der grass­lands, wet­lands, and beau­ti­ful Danxia land­forms, as well as the magnificent Qil­ian Moun­tains.

The Yanzhis­han Na­tional For­est Park.

Zhangye Ur­ban Wet­land Mu­seum. Ru­ins of the Great Wall built in the Han Dy­nasty.

Oases along the Hexi Cor­ri­dor orig­i­nate in melt wa­ters from the Qil­ian Moun­tains.

The largest and most typ­i­cal of China’s arid re­gions, Zhangye’s Danxia land­form draws large num­bers of both sci­en­tists and tourists.

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