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Special trip photos – Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu, 2012/05

The trip to the Zhangye Danxia Landform is one of our favourite long distance trips, taking us to sparsely-populated areas of western China.

The name of the province we visited, Gansu, was first used in the Song Dynasty (960–1279 AD), after two areas belonging to previous dynasties were combined. One area was previously named Gan; the other, Su.

The Silk Road passed through Gansu, following a narrow route between the Tibetan Plateau (too cold!) and the Gobi Desert (too hot!) that’s known as the Hexi Corridor.

Zhangye was one of the stops on the Silk Road, and Jiayuguan was at the westernmost end of the area controlled by the Ming Dynasty. Our main focus on this visit was the Danxia Landform, but we also made sure to get a good look the Buddhist sites and relics left by Silk Road travelers.

We spent two days hiking in the Danxia Landform, with visits to temples, caves and grottoes, and Han Dynasty Great Wall on the days either side.

 Great Wall, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

This part of the Great Wall was built from rammed earth.

the layers of the rammed earth, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

When the interior of the wall is exposed, the layers of the rammed earth can be photographed.

temple, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Entering a temple in Zhangye.

Stones, rocks, and medicinal herbs, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Stones, rocks, and medicinal herbs for sale.

Jiayuguan, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

The fortress at Jiayuguan, at the westernmost end of the Ming Dynasty Great Wall.

Camels ready to ride, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Camels ready to ride.

Looks heavy!, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Looks heavy!

Jiayuguan Fortress, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Walking the walls of the Jiayuguan Fortress.

Inside the Jiayuguan Fortress, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Inside the Jiayuguan Fortress.

the grounds of the fortress, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

We spotted this fellow adventuring around the grounds of the fortress.

>A view of the Qilian Mountains, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

A view of the Qilian Mountains, near Zhangye.

The hills of the Zhangye Danxia Landform, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

The hills of the Zhangye Danxia Landform.

Ridge-walking , Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Ridge-walking in the Danxia Landform.

Layers of different-coloured sandstone, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Layers of different-coloured sandstone.

We followed a trail along a ridge, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

We followed a trail along a ridge.

More views of the amazing colours, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

More views of the amazing colours.

We hiked deeper and deeper into the hills, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

We hiked deeper and deeper into the hills.

Another good lookout point, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Another good lookout point.

Our local guide, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Our local guide, and Huijie, and a hiker.

A meal at the guesthouse, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

A meal at the guesthouse.

The strange rocks, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

The strange rocks at Binggou.

Better view, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

We climbed up on to a ridge to get a better view.

strange rock formations, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

We hiked by more of the strange rock formations.

a canyon, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

We ended up hiking out a canyon.

A huge pagoda, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

A huge pagoda in a temple in Zhangye City.

 a temple dug, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Matisi, a temple dug into the cliffs in the hills near Zhangye City.

the tunnels, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

We explored the tunnels.

An interesting balcony, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

An interesting balcony.

the caves, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Detail of one of the murals in the caves.

Wide view, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

Wide view of the temple.

meadow, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

We hiked across a broad meadow.

A stretch of Great Wall, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

A stretch of Great Wall, originally built in the Han Dynasty and restored using the old techniques.

, Beijing Hikers Zhangye, May, 2012

The hiking group in the Danxia landform.

Were you on this hike or trip? How did you like it? Please send us your comments about what was good and/or what we could do a better job of. We'd love to hear from you!

Were you not on this trip, but like the look of it? Tell us, and we'll let you know when we'll be repeating it.

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