Binggou Danxia Geopark, China
Every corner of our planet is unique, but China stands out in a row of beautiful places. It has such an outstanding landform that a special name was created for it, Danxia. It refers to various landscapes consisting of red sandstone beds characterized by cliffs.
It is a unique landform existing only in several regions of China and nowhere else in the world. And there is a National Geopark near Zhangye city that bears the same name. These fantastic rock formations appeared as a result of certain geological processes and the impact of the local climate. Eighty million years ago, it was a site of lakes and rivers, but the water had eventually dried out and lots of sandstone and other mineral deposits were left here. Then a tectonic plate collision occurred and resulted in the creation of highlands. These landforms, in their turn, suffered erosion and exposure of winds and rains.
Consequently, a lot of caves, grottoes, ravines, valleys, columns and towers reflecting different shades of red appeared here. Every formation is different from any other by both colour and shape. Even during the day, the scene can change depending on where the light and the shadows fall.
The overall area of the park is 322 km2. Its largest part is located on the north bank of Liyuan River and named Binggou Danxia meaning "ice valley". Comparing to the neighbouring colourful mountains of Zhangye Danxia, Binggou is not so bright, but the lack of colours is compensated by unbelievable shapes of rocks rising at 1,500-2,500 meters. They are divided by dried riverbeds, while the geological processes continue! Scientists have found out that every 10,000 years the slopes of Zhangye Danxia grow at about 0.9 meters.
In 2005, this landscape drew the attention of the world's media. Several years later, the Chinese edition of National Geographic magazine referred to Zhangye Danxia as one of "the six most beautiful landscape formations" in the country. Then eventually it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
To develop tourism, local authorities have created roads, floorings and observation decks. But still, the area of Binggou is "in the shadow" of the colourful neighbour Zhangye Danxia. Only in 2014, Binggou officially became a part of the Geopark. Even though around 100 billion yuan were spent to develop the infrastructure, this place doesn't get many tourists yet.
Just admire the deserted, majestic and unearthly landscapes of Binggou Danxia!
Photos and video by Sergey Shandin, Stanislav Sedov. Stitching by Nickolay Denisov
31 July 2019
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