Yardang National Geopark

Dunhuang, China

Yardang National Geopark, in Gansu Province, also goes by the name of ‘City of demons’ that it has earned because of the way the wind makes scary noises at nighttime. Legend has it that this place was once a castle that was later turned in to ruins by God as punishment for its evil existence. This is a famous attraction, not only because of the legend but mainly because of the creative landscape, the 77 ruins, big rocks and some monuments carved from the wind and sand. The place is subdivided in to 2 separate regions: the north and the south. It has also been declared by UNESCO among its World Heritage Sites.

Entry ticket costs RMB50 for an adult and the price is halved to RMB25 for kids measuring between 3.9 to 4.6 feet. Kids measuring less than 3.9 feet enjoy free entry. The opening time is from 06:00 to 22:00. Go as early as possible to avoid the heat or in the evening so you can enjoy the magical sunset, unique to this barren place. The best time to visit is from October to March because the weather will be more agreeable. The whole activity won’t take more then a couple of hours.

To get to Yardang, which is 180 kms from the city, you can take the tourist specific bus in Dunhuang. Only 3 buses are available in a day. You can avail the car service of the hotel that will be under RMB600 which is a lot more convenient or the shuttle bus service for RMB70. The desert is prone to unpredictable and wild swings in weather so pack a light shrug and heat appropriate attire. Lather on plenty of sunscreen and carry water bottles to quench your thirst.

Akin to some tourist places in the country, visitors are not able to stroll around freely. The reason for this is alarming though as people have been known to get lost and lose their lives in the humongous park. Accordingly, a shuttle bus takes you from the visitor center to three stops within the park, allowing you to get a close-up impression of the stone formations. If you wish to diverge from the oft-treaded path, there are jeeps that can take you deeper into the park for an additional fee. The jeep drivers will also show you get spots for dusk views, one of which is a hilltop in the southern region to peek at this breathtaking scene.

There are some fancy shaped rocks in the geopark which have been given descriptive names like the ‘Mongolio Bao’, the ‘Camel’, ‘Stone bird’, ‘Peacock’ and ‘The golden lion welcoming his guests’. Many rocks even resemble cartoon characters (like the ET rock formation!) and other animals.

Visitors prefer combining this trip with Yumenguan pass (the defensive wall one hour away from Yardang) once a major gateway along the Silk Road. It is a superb place for all to visit once but especially for those fascinated by geology and inimitable topography.

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