At the end of the October holiday we visited Jiayuguan and Zhangye for a five-day trip that featured the colourful Zhangye Danxia Landform and the fortress at Jiayuguan, as well as Silk Road sights like the Giant Buddha Temple and the Horsehoof Temple and grottoes.
To start the trip we flew into Jiayuguan city, in the northwest of Gansu Province, about 2,000km west of Beijing.
On arrival, we took a look at the Jiayuguan Fortress. The fortress defends a pass in the Qilian Mountains, and at the time of construction (1372 AD) marked the western border of the Ming Dynasty.
The next day, we drove on to Zhangye to see the Danxia Landform, a sandstone landform that is best described in photos!
On the third day of the trip we visited the Binggou Rock area, another area of strangely shaped hills with some excellent trails for hiking.
Back in Zhangye city, we explored some of the Silk Road sights: the Giant Buddha temple, and the Horsehoof Temple.
The Horsehoof Temple is a great base for some easy walking, positioned on a plateau in the Qilian Mountains. The temple itself is partially carved into a cliff, and was a major Buddhist site.
Bands of colour, revealed by erosion and wind.
The hiking team, ready to explore.
A mysterious coin, with characters indicating that it was made in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD).
Hiking through the landform.
A peak in the landform.
Beautiful light for photography.
The ‘castle’ formation at the Binggou Rock landform.
A view of the Binggou Rock landform, with the Qilian Mountains in the background.
We hiked into the hills, towards the ‘castle’.
Getting closer …
… and closer still.
A pretty sight, and unusual to see in such a dry area.
A view of some of the sandstone pillars in the Binggou Rock landform.
Squeezed together for a group photo.
A view from below of an arch in one of the pillars.
The hiking team at a lookout point.
We continued our hike through the hills.
Down into a valley …
A view from the valley of an arch in the rocks.
We walked out through this ravine.
The Horsehoof Temple near Zhangye city, tunneled into the cliffs.
Grottoes in the cliffs, with murals and statues.
White stupas in the Tibetan Buddhist style.
The grassy meadows near the Horsehoof Temple.
We hiked up into the mountains.
Beautiful high-altitude scenery.
Higher up beyond the meadows, the mountains turned rocky.
Back near Jiayuguan, we visited this river canyon to see the ‘First Beacon Tower of the Great Wall’.