Monday, August 8, 2016

Seriously Surreal. The Zhangye Danxia Landform.

Zhangye Danxia Landform. (Photo by By YubYub41.  Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons.)

Danxia landform is a general term referring to a unique type of landscape found in southeast, southwest and northwest China.  Geologists believe that danxia topography was formed millions of years ago by the endogenous folding of layered oceanic crust.  Exogenous forces then created towering peaks, cave holes, and stone halls.

Exposed rock layers have different colors, textures, shapes, sizes, and patterns, a  result of exposure to the elements and the leaching of minerals contained in the red sandstone.  The result is a surreal, colorful landscape like no other.  In fact, in most of the photo images that I have seen of the Zhangye Danxia Landform, the colors are so intense that I am sure they were digitally enhanced - at a minimum, the saturation was turned way up.  I'll know for sure after my visit!

Several of the Danxia Landforms were collectively inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2010.  In my opinion, while the Zhangye Danxia Landform was not included in this group, it is spectacular in its own right, especially from a color perspective.

The Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park is divided into several sections.  The core area of the park, the Linze Danxia Scenic Area, is the most developed and most visited part of the park. A second scenic area, Binggou is, located on the north bank of Liyuan River.  Binggou is more about rock formations than colors.  A third area, Sunan Danxia Scenic Area, is located in Ganjun.  I'll be happy to just go to the Linze Danxia Scenic Area

The first viewing platform is the nearest and best viewing platform - about a 10 minute walk from the entrance.

The second viewing platform is about a 10 minute walk from the first platform but it's 666 steps to the top.  I don't care how long it takes me to get up to the top.  I'm going as there is a panoramic view of the area.

Zhangye Danxia Landform.  (Photo by CATERS.)

The third viewing platform allows a view of the famous landform known as the *Sseven Color Fan*.

 The fourth viewing platform is the largest viewing platform. It is on a ridge which runs from east to west. Standing on the ridge and looking south you can feast your eyes on the variegated colors of Qicai Shan (Seven-Color Mountain).  It is the perfect place for catching pictures of a sunrise or sunset.

There are sightseeing cars available within the national park to take you to the platforms. The total distance between the four viewing platforms is around eight kilometers (5 miles), and it takes about 2 hours to finish the whole trip when taking the sightseeing cars.  I will have my camera and wide angle lens ready to go!

As you might expect, the best time to be in the park is either at sunrise or dusk but especially at sunset when the yellow, orange, and red colors are highlighted.  We'll be arriving into Zhangye in the afternoon and then not leaving until the next morning so hopefully we'll catch the sunset.  We'll be in Zhangye at a time of year when there is little rain.  But you never know with the weather these days.  So,  my only hope is that it's not cloudy or raining.  I will be so utterly disappointed if it is.