Colourful mountains of the Zhangye Danxia Geopark, China
China has such a unique landform that there is a special word for it — Danxia. It refers to various landscapes that consist of red sandstone characterized by steep colourful cliffs. The areas of Danxia landforms are located in several regions of the country, and near the city of Zhangye, there is a national geopark bearing this name. Mass media considers it to be one of the most beautiful landforms in China.
This landscape has appeared due to certain geological processes, climate and time. A lake existed here 80 million years ago, but when it had gone dry, the deposits of sandstone and other minerals replaced the water. Then the action of the tectonic plates created the mountain landform, which in its turn suffered the wind, water and erosion.
As a result, a unique landscape with numerous caves, grottos, ravines, valleys, columns and towers covering 322 sq km was created. Not a single sculpture resembles the other one: albeit the red colour dominates here, the shades are still different, as well as the texture and sizes. Even during the day, the colour may change depending on the angle of the sunlight and the place where the shadows fall.
In ancient times, the Silk Road laid through the territory that now is occupied by the Zhangye Danxia Geopark. The famous explorer Marco Polo visited these lands, as well. In 2010, together with other five Danxia landforms located in the subtropical area of southeast China, Zhangye Danxia was inscribed as a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Many tourists visit this place nowadays, so a lot of wooden decks and access roads were created for their comfort. And now, there is another opportunity to admire these exotic colourful mountains — AirPano virtual tour.
Photos and video by Sergey Shandin and Stas Sedov. Video stitching by Ivan Roslyakov
3 October 2018
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