In 2009, Chinese National Geography magazine chose Zhangye Danxia as one of the “six most beautiful landforms” in China. Surprisingly the area has not received busloads of tourists yet. As in China, tourists go places which are ranked by “A letters”. The more “A letters” a destination gets from the department of tourism, the more agencies will motivate their clients to go there. Danxia doesn’t have a lot of A’s, furthermore it is a bit far away from other sights and the town of Zhangye doesn’t offer much more than dusty roads and noodle shops. Hence, just a small part of the area is open to the public where hiking isn’t really an option because the authorities want to protect the delicate rock formations. Visitors are only allowed to climb around 7 peaks by using ladders, since sandstone is very sensitive material. But being surrounded from a mountainous landscape that occurred over 200 million years ago makes one feel quite insignificant in this world. When standing on a platform overlooking the kitschy scenery and waiting for the sun to set, the colors popped out even more. This moment contributes well to the surreal experience! Watching the sun beams and shadows dancing over the extraordinary shapes captivated me for hours. Once in the area, its advisable to visit the nearby Binggou Danxia Park with its beautiful scenery. Where, in contrast to the “Rainbow Mountains” it is possible to hike around and explore the landscape without climbing ladders.

The photos have been taken in National Geopark Zhangye, Gansu Province in the northwest of China around June 2015. Travel advise: Fly to Chengdu which is roughly a 3 hour journey away by bus.


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