Exploring the Mysteries of Kanas
Kanas, in Mongolian, means Mysterious Lake in the Valley, and used to be referred only the lake. But now, it is a vast region for tourism covering many scenic sites, such as Kanas Lake, Hemu Town, Baihaba, etc.
Many photographers usually get disappointed to see the actual scenery which is not as beautiful as the picture he saw on TV, video or magazine. While, Kanas is never this kind. When people who have never been to Kanas are marvel at the breathtaking views on photo galleries of Kanas, they have no idea that there is no photo that can fully describe the beauty of Kanas but your mind. Even so, you still should take a trip to see, to experience, to shoot as much as you can.
This Kanas photography tour can be customized depending on what photos you want to take, and on the weather condition when you go. Feel free to tell your interests and ideas to your personal travel consultants!
Travel Route: Urumqi / Hemu / Kanas / Burqin / Fuyu / Urumqi
Travel Length: 8 Days
Tour Code: CT-KPT-08
Tour Type: Private Tour
Departure: You Choose (you may plan it according to the best season and time.)
Welcome to Xinjiang! Your tour guide will meet you at the Urumqi Airport. Then be escorted to your hotel in a private vehicle. The rest of today is yours to explore the mysterious city on the Silk Road.
Today you are going to explore the Heavenly Lake (or Tianchi in Chinese) which is only about 70km away from Urumqi downtown. Your tour guide and driver will meet you at your hotel, then drive about 1.5 hours to the scenic area of Heavenly Lake. To protect the authenticity of the natural environment, our private car can only bring you to the entrance of the park. You will then shift on to a park bus to the parking lot around the lake area. Walking about 15 minutes, you will get to the lakeside of the Heavenly Lake. The rest time is free for you to stroll along the periphery of the lake, breathe the remarkably fresh air, and soak in the wonderful scenery. With an altitude of 1980m, Heavenly Lake and its alluring surrounding truly offer you a visual feast like heaven, featuring in serene alpine lake, rugged slopes with snow-capped mountains, pure glaciers, wild forest, vast grassland as well as unique ethnic culture.
Generally speaking, there are three ways to explore Heavenly Lake. You can go to walk around the lake, take a boat cruise, or ride cable car to the mountain top. If time allows, you can even enjoy all the experiences. The Boat cruise and cable car need extra fees. Tell your preference to your guide who will then arrange accordingly for you.
- Walking around the lake. Plank roads were constructed to encircle the lake. But since the lake is very large, it takes about 5 hours to finish the circle. You can decide the hiking length on your own according to your physical condition and time. Fee: free.
- Boat Cruise on the lake. It is very popular among travelers to take a boat cruising to the deeper area of the lake and back, which is leisure and scenic. There are modern ships, Chinese-style ships and high-speed boats available with different prices. Fee: about CNY 100.
- Panoramic view from Maya Mountain. If you want more landscape, you can take a cable car up to Maya Mountain where you can enjoy the panoramic view of Heavenly Lake and closer view of Tianshan Mountain Range. Fee: about CNY 220.
After the landscape trip, take park bus to exit the park, and drive back to Urumqi.
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 685 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.
Today is free for you to explore Urumqi by yourself until your tour guide escort you to airport for your flight.
Xining - Zhangye - Badain Jaran Desert
Hailar (Hulunbuir) - Erguna - Shiwei- Manzhouli - Arxan - Hailar (Hulunbuir)
Urumqi - Turpan - Kashgar - Tashkurgan