Zhangye, Mars Valley, Yugu Snow Mountain, Gansu Province | The ‘rainbow mountains’ at the Zhangye Danxia Landform
The ‘rainbow mountains’ at the Zhangye Danxia Landform

Zhangye Danxia, ‘Mars Valley’, and the Yugu Snow Mountain, Gansu (5 days)

See unique views in Gansu Province—the colourful hills and cliffs of the Zhangye Danxia Landform, strange rock formations and gullies in Binggou Canyon, the moonlike Mars Valley, and the high altitude Yugu Snow Mountain.

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Bookings close June 10

Booking info

June 19–23, 2024

  • ¥9,300 (standard) / ¥8,830 (members)
  • ¥8,430 (members early price)
  • Payment due before June 10
  • Early price deadline May 31

Important—trip price does not include your transportation to or from Zhangye. (Read more about that here, and see the meet up details at the end of this page.)

Trip overview
Day One main activities Meet up in Zhangye, visit Zhangye Danxia Landform, dinner and walkabout in town, overnight in Zhangye.
Day Two main activities Hiking day at Binggou Valley and Shuidong Valley, overnight in hotel.
Day Three main activities Hiking day at Mars Valley and Alien Valley, overnight in hotel.
Day Four main activities Drive to Yugu Snow Mountain, ride jeeps up to the base camp (3,800m) for lunch, hike in the snow mountain canyon, overnight in hotel.
Day Five main activities Transport to Zhangye Airport, trip finishes around midday.


The ‘rainbow mountains’ at the Zhangye Danxia Landform
The ‘rainbow mountains’ at the Zhangye Danxia Landform. (Click for larger image)

Zhangye Danxia Landform

By arrangement with the operators of the Zhangye Danxia Geopark we will visit a beautiful area in the middle of the landform, far away from any crowds. Regular tourist groups don’t go here because it increases their cost, and it’s not an option for solo travellers because of requirements for group size and early booking. It’s worth it, though—the area reminds us of how the landform was naturally before it was developed for mass tourism, a stunning sight.

China boasts many different kinds of unique and beautiful landscapes, from towering limestone karst mountains to expansive grasslands that reach as far as the eye can see. Formed from red sandstone beds by combination of erosion and uplift, the Danxia Landforms are also spectacular sights. Some Danxia Landforms have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Danxia landforms are sandstone formations, known for being very dramatic and colorful. The landform near Zhangye City has colourful and magnificent cliffs in a hilly and mountainous land. Danxia refers to isolated peaks, steep pillars, ravines, mountains and hills that have formed after a long period of erosion by wind and running water. Unlike limestone karst, Danxia landforms are composed of red sandstone, which gives them their characteristic crimson colouration. Several Danxia Landforms are listed by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites because of their profound natural and aesthetic value. The area we’re visiting boasts majestic, multi-coloured slopes that give you the sensation of walking into a painting.

The Zhangye Danxia Landform is characterized by magnificently multi-coloured sandstone hills and mountains that ripple away towards the horizon. The area we’ll be visiting was used as the backdrop for the Zhang Yimou film, “A Woman, A Gun, and A Noodleshop.”

Mars Valley

Cliffs and canyons in ‘Mars Valley’.
Cliffs and canyons in ‘Mars Valley’. (Click for larger image)

The scenery in the valley is like a moonscape—dry and rocky—and in some places the red pigment in the soil and rocks makes it look like Mars, the red planet.

We’ll drive in and explore Mars Valley on foot, taking a break for lunch and then taking a hike in ‘Alien Valley’ to see the unique landscapes.

Yugu Snow Mountain

Yugu Snow Mountain, Gansu Province photo #2
Views down to the plains far below.

A newly-opened scenic area on the mountain has high and low basecamps and hiking tracks that show superb snowy scenery—a glacier at 4,000m above sea level, long views down valleys to flat plains far below, and alpine meadows.

We’ll drive up for a lunch at the basecamp’s ‘Glass House’ and hike out from there for a look at some of the canyons and high-altitude scenery.

Getting to Zhangye and back home again

You’ll meet your guides at the airport in Zhangye around 11am on the first day of the trip.

The itinerary will finish in Zhangye,and we’re aiming to have you at the airport by 11am.

Please don’t purchase your flights until we are able to confirm the departure of the trip.

Kid’s prices

  • Ages 12–17: ¥7,420