We visited the Gannan region (Gan like Gansu, nan like ‘south’ – so ‘Southern Gansu’) in April 2015 on a scouting trip and decided it would be a great place for a group visit later in the year, so in September we came back again.
Gannan is a Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and it’s home to one of the largest Tibetan monasteries outside of Tibet, as well as a large population of Tibetans.
The main stops on the trip were the monasteries at Labrang and Langmu, and the Zhagana area. We also visited small villages along the way, including one where we saw a unique way of spinning prayer wheels, and on the way back to Lanzhou we stopped off for a hike in a mountainous area that really reminded us of the colourful mountains of the Zhangye Danxia Landform.
Three young monks walking down the street in Xiahe.
Spot the two people praying atop the golden pagoda at Labrang Monastery.
Group photo at Xiahe, with the monastery behind.
Closer shot of the wheat.
We went for a walk in the fields.
We hiked into a farming village and saw these pigs.
Village kids, a little shy!
Grassland scenery near Sangke.
Clouds and mountains.
A special local snack.
Three local people were enjoying the afternoon sunshine on a hillside in Langmu.
Picnic on the hill side.
Langmu Temple, on the Sichuan Province side of the border.
Local wild flower.
The temples at Langmu are right on the border. The temple in the middle of the photo is in Sichuan. In the hills in the distance on the right side of the photo is another temple, in Gansu.
We went for a hike in a forest.
We followed the stream up into a valley.
The statue marks a cave where a fairy lived.
Inside the cave.
We took a walk about this village.
Little monks all wanted to see themselves in a photo.
Monks were ready to pray.
We spotted a Muslim-style pagoda in the middle of the village – check the crescent moon on the steeple.
Sunshine on a Tibetan house .
The Langmu temple on the Gansu side of the border.
We spotted a mosque in the same village.
One of the days featured a fairly tough hike. We made our own sandwiches for a picnic lunch.
Starting out on the hike.
Aria and Sylvain.
Some locals were also heading up the trail, on their way to work in the high meadows.
Walking through farmland.
Starting a big climb up into the hills.
We stopped at this little camp for a rest.
4-year old Aria is already a super hiker.
We hiked up into the woods.
A quick stop to admire the scenery.
Another type of flower.
Hiking through the forest.
A bit slippery here.
Going up again.
Almost to the top.
Yeah! We made it to the top!
We’d hike down to Zhagana Village, way down below.
But first, a lunch break! (And is that Yanjing smiling in a photo?!)
Ready to hike down.
Down through the trees on a gravelly path.
Hiking through the trees.
Down on to flatter terrain.
We stopped here to enjoy the sun before finishing the hike.
Group photo, and the normal Yanjing pose for a photo.
Zhagana village. Zhagana means ‘stone box’ in Tibetan language, and the name comes from the stone cliffs that surround the village. You’ll see some of those cliffs in the following photos.
Great spot, with the grassy meadows.
Part of the ‘Stone Box’.
We weren’t the only ones enjoying the sunshine.
A temple in Zhagana.
The houses of the village.
Time to head on to finish the hike.
A wide view of the village.
Houses in the village.
A golden pagoda.
We started an easy walk up to the temple.
We visited this temple, but we are not allowed to take any pictures while inside.
Local kids are very curious.
Local village kids.
It’s time to have some beer. And what a view!
Taking a break on the balcony at our guesthouse.
Nice view from the balcony.
The last sun of the day on the cliffs.
Tibetan-style guesthouse decorations.
The courtyard of the guesthouse.
Nice spot to stay.
More of the mountains.
The stove at the guesthouse.
We went for an evening stroll.
Lucky us finding some icecream!
Breakfast at the guesthouse.
We woke up to see misty scenery.
Group photo with the proprietor of the guesthouse.
Misty mountain scenery.
Beautiful scenery with wild flowers.
We started another hike.
After a while the sun came out.
Hiking along the ridges.
Taking a short break at the prayer flags.
Group photo in front of the prayer flags.
We hiked into this 100-year-old village.
We found an old temple in the village.
They had a sort of pulley system set up for the prayer wheels.
How about that – everyone at this table is left-handed.
On the way back to Lanzhou we stopped to hike in this area. The scenery is really similar to the super-popular Zhangye Danxia, and no one really knows it’s here.