We made a 5-day trip to check out monasteries, temples, and small villages in the Tibetan area of Gannan, driving more than 900km through the mountains and getting a great look at local Tibetan and Muslim culture.
The scenery was varied: monasteries and mosques, grasslands and mountains, and 4,000m-plus mountains. Read on to find out more about the trip!
On the first day we passed through Lanzhou, stopping for a meal of the famous Lanzhou hand-pulled noodles and then driving on through Muslim villages on the way to Xiahe.
At Xiahe everything changed to the Tibetan style – clothes, architecture, culture ... everything. Here we visited Labrang Monastery and the less well-known Deer Long Monastery.
Next on the itinerary was Langmusi, another small town with an important temple. On the way there we stopped for a hike in the mountains, and after arriving in Langmusi we toured the town, taking in the temple before dinner.
The next day we were set for a big hike, heading towards the Zhagana area. We packed a picnic lunch and headed up the trail towards ‘Day Light’ Cliff, passing through valleys and high-altitude meadows on the way up. The hike finished at the door of our hostel in Zhagana.
After a good sleep, we work up and had a look about the village before moving on again, driving to Hezuo and – of course – stopping for a walk in the mountains on the way there.
We finished the trip with a hike near Lanzhou, and then it was time to fly back to Beijing.
Day 1: Deerlong Temple, Xiahe
Our guide waiting for us on the steps of the temple.
We started with a look at the top end of the temple.
Views of the halls at the back.
Inside the halls.
Decorations on a door.
Day 2: Labrang Monastery, and on to Langmusi
Prayer wheels in a long row.
Walking in the sun.
We headed over to check out the temple’s school of medicine.
A sculpture formed with yak butter and painted.
An older part of the temple.
Monks waiting for the prayer ceremony.
She’s also waiting for the prayer ceremony.
Big white stupa.
Monks heading in to the prayer hall.
The monk up on the roof was blowing on a big trumpet.
Behind the door is the tantric school.
We hiked up into the hills behind the monastery.
A walkway by the pagoda.
As well as temples, there were mosques.
About to enter a pavilion.
On the way to Langmusi we stopped for a look at a wetlands park.
The crane sculptures are part of a new wetlands park project.
Group photo at the Guomang Wetlands.
A village nearby.
Little shacks in Langmusi.
Hills behind Langmusi.
Horse on the hill.
Younger monks by a stream.
Walking through Langmusi Town.
Walking through Langmusi Town.
A new temple, founded in 2015.
A view from the other side of the temple.
We stopped for a chat with a local fellow who wanted to know where he could purchase hiking poles like ours.
Reinhard in front of a shed that has a big prayer wheel hidden inside.
Lovely light at sunset.
Sunset at Langmusi.
Day 3: Over to Zhagana
Local lady, ready for work.
We sat down for a rest, too. We wanted to see how the logs were going to be transported down to the village below.
Yak power! The logs were to be used to build a new house.
Starting the hike up to Daylight Cliff.
Cows and yaks.
Mushroom in the forest.
The beginning of the climb up to Daylight Cliff.
Interviewing a yak.
Getting closer to the top.
We hiked through a pine forest.
Further up into the forest.
The trail took us through vales and glens.
Coming over a hill.
High-altitude meadows above Zhagana Village.
Our guesthouse at Zhagana.
Day 4: Tibetan areas and Hezuo
We woke up the next morning to find things very misty and mysterious.
The hills behind our guesthouse.
Older houses near our guesthouse.
The mist was getting thicker and thicker.
More mountains, seen on a hike.
At this point we were about 3,500m above sea level.
Prayer flags high up on a hill.
We added some of our own to the collection.
One of our stops was Niba Village, more rustic than the others.
More prayer wheels.
Old houses in the village.
Day 5: Back to Lanzhou
Near Lanzhou we stopped to visit this nine-storey temple of the Milarepa Buddha.
Inside the temple.
Local students visiting the temple.