China is a enormous place. No seriously, massive. It’s the fourth largest country in the world and it’s land mass includes soaring mountains, barren deserts, vast rivers, and lush valleys. While living in China we had the opportunity to visit some amazing natural landscapes. Here are what I consider to be the five best landscapes we visited.
1. Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡)
Rising snow-capped peaks, precipitous cliffside trails, and a raging river make this easily the most resplendent place we visited during our time in China. We spent two days hiking the trail in Tiger Leaping Gorge, which receives it name from a tale, not surprisingly of a tiger leaping the river to avoid pursuit from some hunters. If the hiking itself doesn’t take your breath away the views certainly will.
2. Mingsha Mountain (鸣沙山)
Echoing-Sands Park was one of the highlights of our trip up to the northwest part of China. To see a massive mountain of sand seemingly rise up from nowhere was a spectacular sight. Climbing those dunes and watching the wind shape patterns in the sand and the sun paint a range of colors on the sand was something that will stay with me for a long time. I shared one my favorite pictures from Mingshan in an earlier post.
3. Yangshuo (阳朔县)
Karst mountains are such unique environments to encounter, rising up sharply from a flat plain in various conical shapes. They cluster together on the banks of one of China’s prettiest rivers, the Li River. One of the most popular activities in Yangshuo is to float down the river in a bamboo raft enjoying the karst mountains rising up around you. Another popular activity is to rent bikes to ride around the countryside taking in the views, which we did during the Spring Festival.
4. Gansu Zhangye National Geopark (甘肃张掖国家地质公园)
The name is quite a mouthful, but the geopark is renowned for its Rainbow Mountains. The park is full of stunning geological shapes and a myriad of colors that just beg to be photographed over and over again (for example, our over 900 pictures of the park!). Every new angle gives a new source of splendor. We spent almost the whole day here, but unfortunately we didn’t get much sun, but the colors are phenomenal nonetheless.
5. Qinghai Lake (青海湖)
Qinghai is the largest lake in China, but what draws most people to this lake is the landscapes surrounding it. Farmers/entreprenuers (farmprenuers?) plant canola seeds to attract tourists to their fields of blinding yellow flowers. The fields have become quite the haven for wedding photography as apparent by the numerous brides and grooms standing in luminescent fields of yellow.