the Altun Mountain Nature Preserve
The Altun Mountain Nature Preserve locates within the boundaries of Ruoqiang County and in the center of Altun Mountain which lies in the border of Xinjiang and Tibet. With an elevation of about 4,000 meters and an area of around 45,000 square kilometers, it is the biggest mountain nature preserve in our country.
The natural scenery here is very exquisite. There are sand beach desert with the highest elevation all over the world, Aqike Lake, which is called continental non-frozen lake of the plateau, Xinqing Mountain - the Guilin scenery of the plateau as well as Muzitage Ice Mountain densely covered with glacier. Besides these, there are also some other scenic spots like Thousand Tear Spring, Yingyang Lake, and Devil Valley. In the mountain, you can also find quite a lot of secret sects of Buddhism and incantations which were engraved on the stones in Tibetan.
Situated at Beipo large-scale hollow basin in the middle section of east Kunlun Mountain, this area is neighboring with Chaidamu basin to the east and connects Zangbei plateau while leaning Kunlun Mountain to the south. The north part is covered by dry and barren Altun Mountain. This area has very complex and varied terrain, which has just formed the unusual landscape of the preserve. The transitional feature from middle Asian desert to Qingzang plateau can be fully shown by the types and distribution of plants. The number of higher plants can reach to over 300 kinds. There is also a big area of cold prairie, with rare people here, which has made it a paradise for many wild animals of the plateau to live and increase gradually here. All kinds of rare birds and animals are distributing here, including 63 higher animals, among which there are some national key protective animals like wild yak, the Tibetan wild donkey, the Tibetan antelope, the snow leopard, back-necked crane, the Tibetan snow chicken and so on. All of these animals are with a large number and high density, thus it have been praised as “the natural zoo” and “the animal world of the ones with hoofs”.
The Altun Mountain Nature Preserve is a closed mountain basin, with interior rivers converging toward the center of the basin, which has formed over ten plateau lakes. Among them, the biggest one is Ayakeku Big Lake, with an area of 510 square kilometers. To the south-east part, around 100 li (equals to 0.5 kilometer) of the lake is the biggest Kumukule desert, with an elevation of over 4,000 meters, and is regarded as the desert with highest elevation in the world. The spring gushes out from the foot of the huge sand mountain, which presents a wonderful and surprising scenery, i.e. with the connection of sand and lake, the coexistence of sand and spring, as well as the alternation of desert and swamp. The sand spring in the sand mountain is quite like the crescent moon spring in Dunhuang, and the spring gushes out to form the sand river.