Welcome to Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang Autonomous Region. Meet your tour guide and driver at the airport/train station, then transfer a short while to the downtown of Urumqi. Check in to your hotel. The rest time is free for you to relax. Feel free to ask for recommendations of places to go from your guide.
How to get to Urumqi? Currently, you can take flights to Urumqi from Beijing (about 4 hours), Xian (about 3.5 hours), Shanghai (about 5.5 hours), Guangzhou (about 5 hours), Chengdu (about 3.5 hours), etc., or high speed trains from Turpan (about 2 hours), Dunhuang (about 4.5 hours), Lanzhou (about 11 hours), Xining (about 9.5 hours), etc.
Free time idea: 1. Red Hill Park which is regarded as the symbol of Urumqi. It is the most popular place for the locals to relax and gather. For travelers, it is a great place to experience folk culture and local living style. Finding a higher location in the park, you are rewarded a pleasant panoramic view of Urumqi city; 2. Erdaoqiao Grand Bazaar, a great place to enjoy a leisure stroll and purchase some snacks, souvenirs, etc.
Today after breakfast, drive about 410 km (about 5.5 hours) to Wu’erhe which is located at the middle point between Urumqi and Kanas. Don’t have to worry getting bored by the long driving, because the landscape alone the road is beautiful and changeable, and you will stop by the incredible geographic wonder land – Dushanzi Grand Canyon and Wu’erhe Ghost City (Yadan Landform).
You will arrive at Dushanzi Grand Canyon first. The river of melted snow water flowed down from Tianshan Mountains into the Dushanzi plain, curved the plain like a sword and created a 200-meter-deep canyon. The river beds at the bottom of the canyon is 100~400 meters wide, while the widths of the shoulders of the canyons from one side to another are unbelievable 800m~1000m. Standing along the cliff side of the canyon, one can look down upon on the river winding in the canyon, also stretch eyesight from the vast plain to the towering snow mountains of Tianshan. It is truly a visual feast. (To enrich travelers’ experience, there are some outdoor activities are held in the scenic area, such as glass bridge, rope bridge, archery, etc. These activities need extra costs if you want to try.)
Leaving Dushanzi Grand Canyon, and keep driving about 3.5 hours to Wu’erhe Ghost City which is actually a jaw-dropping Geopark of wind-eroded Yardang Landform. It got its name from the sound of the howling wind when it passes through the rock formations. This area was a huge freshwater lake during the Cretaceous period about 100 million years ago. There used to lush plants growing on the lakeshore and many ancient animals living in the lake, such as Urhe Stegosaurus, Plesiosaurs, Dinosaurs, Junggar Pterosaurs, etc. Wu’erhe Ghost City was praised as the "No. 1 of the Three Most Beautiful Yardang Landform Geoparks in China" by China National Geographic because of its 5 kilometers long Yardang rock formations. Some of them look like the Liuhe Pagodas in Hangzhou, Temple of Heaven in Beijing, Pyramids of Egypt, and Angkor Wat in Cambodia, etc. Many great movies have been filmed here including the most famous “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon”. You will ride a sightseeing train to transfer between the sites. Getting off the train, it is available to walk around the rock formations to take photos. Opposite side of the geopark are many pumpjacks which are drilling oils. Karamay, the city where the Ghost City locates in, is the wealthiest city in China because of oil production.
Exiting Wu’erhe Ghost City, you will then drive a short while to Wu’erhe Town for accommodation.
Today’s destination is the best highlight of this trip – Kanas which is about 375 km (about 6~7 hours’ drive) from Wu’erhe. There will be some stops along the road for resting, meal and taking photos. You will reach Kanas Scenic Area in the afternoon and check in to your hotel which may be in Jiadengyu Tourist Center or a local Tuvas Village, depending on actual availability. The rest time of today is free for you to relax and explore the surrounding. Whether you stay at Jiadengyu or Tuvas village, you can find many places to walk around and enjoy beautiful landscape as Kanas is actually a very large natural reserve with easy accesses to the wild nature.
Today is a full-day exploration of Kanas Lake Scenic Area including the Three Bays, Kanas Lake and Fish-watching Tower.
Get up early to escape the crowds, then take a park bus to the Three Bays area - the essence of Kanas Scenic Area. Kanas River wriggles in valleys, and creates three zigzag bays with beautiful names - Recumbent Dragon Bay, Moon Bay and Celestial Bay. The water here is crystalline, gentle and lovely. Along the two sides of the three bays are forests with alternate colors of green, yellow and golden, changing with the seasons. The trees, sky and clouds together project in the river, and appear a colorful reflection. Looking far into the distance, you can see the imposing Altai Mountains Range. The visiting of the Three Bays can be interesting and relaxing. If you are lucky, you will see the illusory mist floating on the Kanas River in the early morning. You can walk on the well-paved plank road to the sightseeing platforms to enjoy the tranquil landscape, then walk from one bay to the next, or take park bus to save energy.
Then take a park bus from the Celestial Bay to the lakeside of Kanas Lake. There is a 5-kilometer-long plank road, known as Taiga Trail Hiking, following the eastern lake shore of Kanas to the deep wild forest. It is a scenic and relaxing experience as well as a good way to escape from the tourist crowds. You will walk through Siberian spruce forest, Wall of Root Carving, Taiga moors and reach at Tuluke Rock Painting at the end of the plank road, then return the same way.
Optional Kanas Lake Cruise – if you want to explore deeper area of Kanas, you can join the Cruise Program. The sightseeing ship sails to the heart area of the lake, the return to the lake shore, lasting about 45 minutes. Tell your guide if you get interested.
After the lakeside hiking, keep traveling to Fish-watching Tower - the highest location of Kanas Scenic Area. The Fish-watching Tower is located at 2056 meters on a mountain at the outlet of Kanas Lake. One needs to walk about 1000 steps up to reach the tower, but the rewarding is handsome - a panoramic view of Kanas Lake, and stretching eyesight to the snow mountains of the Friendship Peak (4374m).
Lastly, hop on a park bus (about 2 hours’ drive along the beautiful mountain road) to Hemu Village for accommodation. Hemu Village is an important part of Kanas Scenic Area. It is one of the most beautiful villages in China, a magic place where you can get rid of the hustle and bustle and immerse yourself in the creation of photography. The villagers are Tuvans who is a branch of Mongolian. The ancestors of Tuvas are believed to be solders of Genghis Khan.
Get up early to catch the incredible sunrise which is also the MUST photo to be shot. When the sun rises and shines onto the mist curling up the villages, it is the moment to take one of the best pictures in your lifetime. To shoot the sunrise, you need to walk along the plank road to the high places on the mountains near to the village. After the sunrise, go back to your hotel to have breakfast. Later, you will visit a local Tuvas family to find out what’s their living like, and get treated with local snacks, fruits and drinks prepared by the hosts. Sometimes, you can even a race chance to see Tuvas playing music and dancing. The rest is free for you to relax and exploring surrounding.
After lunch, say goodbye to Kanas and drive about 4 hours to Burqin County for accommodation. En route, take a stop at the spectacular Rainbow Beach (Riverside) where stones were weathered into many vivid shapes like soaring hills, deep valley, criss-cross streets, tower, etc. After thousands years of geological changing, the “beach” has been painted into different colors – red, yellow, green, white…, presenting you a gorgeous scene especially when the golden lights of sunset shine on the riverside.
Stay over the night in Burqin County.
Have breakfast in your hotel, then drive back to Urumqi. During the 519 km’s driving journey, you will take an excursion visit to Kalamaili Mountain Ungulate Wildlife Nature Reserve which is an important reserve to protect the precious wild ungulates, such as Przewalski's horses, saiga antelopes, Mongolian wild donkeys and goose-throated antelopes. In 1876, the Russian explorer Przewalski hunted a group of wild horses in eastern Xinjiang and brought them back to Russia, causing a sensation in the international biological community because this kind of horse hadn’t been found anywhere in the world before, hence the name Przewalski's horses. The Przewalski's horse is the only surviving wild horse on the earth. It retains the original genes of the earliest ancestors of all current horse, which has an important biological significance that other species cannot match. (please note it’s not 100% sure that you can see the Przewalski's horses and other wild animals as the nature reserve is so big )
Accommodate in Urumqi city.
This morning, you will drive about 3 hours (167 km) from Urumqi to the "fire land" – Turpan. It is China's hottest city that its highest temperature reaches about 50°C in summer. Besides, it is also an outpost on the Silk Road and a lot of cultural heritage sites can be explored.
As you reach Turpan, keep driving about 1 hour to Tuyuk Valley along Flaming Mountain Grand Canyon, which condenses the essence of the landscape of Flaming Mountain - red sandstones looking like flaming fire, distinctive rocks showing the uncanny workmanship of nature and deep gorge with crisscross valleys. Mazar Village, the oldest existing Uighur village with a history of over 2,600 years, is a big highlight of Tuyuk Valley. It holds a significant status in Buddhism and Islam. The villagers still live peacefully in the village, and you can clearly see how they run their daily lives in the old mud adobe houses. Some villagers kindly ask the travelers to visit their vineyards and taste their fresh grapes or preserved fruits.
After the great time in Mazar Village, you will drive 55 km (about 1 hour) to Kumtag Desert. Start desert exploration by taking a sightseeing car and firstly stop at the Sand Lake which is a picturesque lake with greenery. Then, continue with your trip to Happy Sand Valley – the core scenic area of Kumtag Desert. With the change of the sunlight, the desert takes on more fascinating colors, light yellow, yellow, orange, red, gray, etc. The sand of Kumtag Desert is as soft as the smooth, so a desert walk is quite comfortable. There are many interesting programs(optional activities with extra costs) in Happy Sand Valley to please you, including sand sliding, camels ridding, desert kart racing, desert motorbike riding, etc. When the sunset time is approaching, climb up to a high sand dune to enjoy the striking view of desert sunset – endless sand dunes waving under the golden sunlight.
After a wonderful desert exploration, transfer to Shanshan County near Kumtag Desert for accommodation.
After breakfast, drive about 280 km (about 3.5 hours) back to Urumqi, and visit Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves and Jiaohe Ancient City en route.
Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves is a group of grottoes with rich murals. They are high on the cliffs of the west Mutou Valley of Flaming Mountain. Originally drilled in the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 ~ 589), the caves have gone through about 15 centuries. There are 57 existing caves, and about 40 of them are preserved with brightly-colored murals on the stone-walls. Appreciating the glorious murals in an artistic style and listening to the old Buddhist legends, you may imagine how Buddhism spread to mainland China via Xinjiang.
Jiaohe Ancient City is an ancient city which was strategically located along the ancient Silk Road. Perching on a plateau, it acted as a natural barrier from the attacking enemies in the old times. Now, it is renowned as the best-preserved earthen architecture in the world. The interesting sculptures, videos and some other displays in Jiaohe Cultural Village Museum will give you an appreciation of the history of Jiaohe City before you start exploring. Then, take a shuttle bus to the core scenic area. Walking up along the pathway uphill, and you can see many historical structural remains, including the residential area, official area and Buddhist temples. It is also available to walk to the central platform for a more awesome view of the whole park. When the night drops, you will feast on a breathtaking sunset over the ruins.
Stay the night in Urumqi city.
Today is free for you to relax until you are escorted to catch your flight/train to the next destination. Tour ends.
The quotation for this trip is from Request P/P
1. This price is for one person, based on a group of 2 adults sharing one standard double-bed room in 4-star hotel and traveling with our private tour in low seasons.
2. This price is subject to change according your traveling season, group size, hotel class, change of activities in your itinerary and possible fluctuation of currency exchange rate. If you want a lower price, you can get more people to join you, or use economy class hotels.
Professional licensed English-speaking guide;
Admission tickets for all attractions listed in the itinerary;
Accommodation as listed in the itinerary;
Necessary vehicle transfers as listed in the itinerary;
Airport (and train station) pick up and drop off;
Luggage Transfers: between airports (railway station) and hotels;
All meals as listed(“B” for Chinese and Western breakfast buffet in your hotel; “L” for Chinese Lunch in local restaurant; “D” for Chinese dinner in local restaurant.);
Our service charge, including tour planning, handling, operational and communication charges.
Accommodation not listed in the itinerary;
Single Room Supplement;
Tourist sites which are not listed in the itinerary;
Recommended optional activities;
Excess Baggage Charges;
Optional tips to guides, drivers, etc.
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