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Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

In Brief: Photos from a five-day trip in Gansu Province, featuring the Zhangye Danxia Landform, Buddhist Silk Road sights, and the fortress at Jiayuguan.

Colours of the Zhangye Danxia Landform - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Colours of the Zhangye Danxia Landform.

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 - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Bands of colour, revealed by erosion and wind.

The hiking team, ready to explore - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

The hiking team, ready to explore.

A mysterious coin, with characters indicating that it was made in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD) - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

A mysterious coin, with characters indicating that it was made in the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368 AD).

Hiking through the landform - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Hiking through the landform.

A peak in the landform - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

A peak in the landform.

Beautiful light for photography - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Beautiful light for photography.

The ‘castle’ formation at the Binggou Rock landform - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

The ‘castle’ formation at the Binggou Rock landform.

A view of the Binggou Rock landform, with the Qilian Mountains in the background - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

A view of the Binggou Rock landform, with the Qilian Mountains in the background.

We hiked into the hills, towards the ‘castle’ - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

We hiked into the hills, towards the ‘castle’.

Getting closer … - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Getting closer …

… and closer still - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

… and closer still.

A pretty sight, and unusual to see in such a dry area - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

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 - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

A view of some of the sandstone pillars in the Binggou Rock landform.

Squeezed together for a group photo - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Squeezed together for a group photo.

A view from below of an arch in one of the pillars - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

A view from below of an arch in one of the pillars.

The hiking team at a lookout point - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

The hiking team at a lookout point.

We continued our hike through the hills - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

We continued our hike through the hills.

Down into a valley … - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Down into a valley …

A view from the valley of an arch in the rocks - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

A view from the valley of an arch in the rocks.

We walked out through this ravine - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

We walked out through this ravine.

The Horsehoof Temple near Zhangye city, tunneled into the cliffs - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

The Horsehoof Temple near Zhangye city, tunneled into the cliffs.

Grottoes in the cliffs, with murals and statues - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Grottoes in the cliffs, with murals and statues.

White stupas in the Tibetan Buddhist style - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

White stupas in the Tibetan Buddhist style.

The grassy meadows near the Horsehoof Temple - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

The grassy meadows near the Horsehoof Temple.

We hiked up into the mountains - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

We hiked up into the mountains.

Beautiful high-altitude scenery - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Beautiful high-altitude scenery.

Grassy meadows - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Grassy meadows.

Higher up beyond the meadows, the mountains turned rocky - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

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’ - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Back near Jiayuguan, we visited this river canyon to see the ‘First Beacon Tower of the Great Wall’.

Team photo with local friend - Zhangye Danxia Landform, Gansu Province, 2014/10

Team photo with local friend.

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