When speaking about Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, usually we think about the Gobi Desert and its great extremes climate. Xinjiang besides possesses magnificent and extremely diverse landscapes; as you travel across the province, the scenery changes from desert to lush green Alpine hills in one hour, and to valleys and Turkish settlements in the next.
The Ili valley is located in the northwest part of Xinjiang, about 60 kilometres east of the Kazakhstan border. Gifted with a nice climate, breathtaking natural beauty and colourful ethnic customs, it has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in Xinjiang.
The Ili valley is surrounded by snow-covered mountains and verdant forests, vast grasslands, which provide ideal grazing land for the local Kazak and Mongolian herdsmen. The pastures are spotted with the yurts of the herdsmen, and sheep and goats amble around at a leisurely pace.
The Ili area is best known for the Ili River and the enormous Ili Bridge is considered the best location for watching and filming the setting sun, and remains a favorite with many photographers. The river winds its way through vast lands, houses with red roof contrast with green rice fields.
Near the Sayram Lake there is another famed tourist attraction called Fruit Valley. It is in reality a mountain passageway that serves as an important gateway between Ili and the outside world. From the bottom of the valley to the mountain slopes on either side, visitors can simultaneously enjoy the scenery of all four seasons. Not only can its innate beauty be admired but also the abundance of wild fruit trees can be appreciated, especially apple trees. Apples from the Fruit Valley are one of the Ili regions most famous exports.
Nalati Grassland is the highest prairie in China with lush grassland and surrounding mountain and a home of meadow vegetation. It has been a famous pasture since ancient times. It is the gathering place of the Kazakh ethnic group pastors. Since the Western Han (206 BC – 9 AD), they live a nomadic life and share their knowledge in astronomy, geography, medicine and music.
Once the tourists are tired, they can rest by the priests. The welcoming hostesses serve milk and local food specialities. The elderly show them their crafts; the young Kazakhs invite them to a ride. Of course, they can also choose to stroll on the grass to admire the snowy mounts and the white clouds and be pleased about the natural beauty of the place.
Tianshan spot was registered on the UNESCO world heritage list in 2013.
The site (606,833 hectares for its central zone) includes four elements - Tomur, Kalajun-Kuerdening, Bayinbukuke and Bogda - and belongs to the Tianshan mountain range in Central Asia, one of the seven bigger mountain ranges in the world. Tianshan offers unique characteristics of physical geographic features and panoramas of great beauty, in particular impressive snowy mountains glacier-capped peaks, untouched forests and meadows, clear rivers and lakes and red bed canyons.
Snowfalls add beauty to Xinjiang
Given its geography, Xinjiang has witnessed several heavy snowfalls in these last years. They add unique beauty to this region. The white peaks create a stunning backdrop for a herd of horses cantering across the frozen landscape on snowbound Tianshan Mountain.
Frost panoramas are wonderful to see in winter and many tourists are greatly impressed by the fabulous snow-covered Tianshan Mountain. Some ski in the snow land to enjoy the happiness that snow brings in. In Urumqi, Xinjiang’s capital, Ski fields has opened for business attracting many ski fans.
Swan Lake is located in Yudos Basin, which is about 2400 meters above sea level, surrounded by snow covered Mountains on all sides. The Basin is somewhat flat about 1000 sq km of lakes.
The Spring beauty of Xianjiang
As the temperature rise gradually in Urumqi, capital of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, citizens go out to take the breath of the warm spring and witness the apricot flowers blossom in Hongshan Park.
In the early April, the stream water, weeping willow, blossoms and green land at the Kongqi River, Korla City, form a beautiful unique spring painting. The Kongqi River flows through the center of Korla, a unique feature amongst cities in Xinjiang. Korla is known for its production of fragrant pears, which are famed in the region for their sweetness and flavor.
In April, in Haimi, icicles on plum blossoms can be seen on tree branches due to sharp drop of temperature. Wild cherry plum trees are in full bloom in Daxigou, Huocheng County at the same point in time.
Migratory birds are seen as well at the Keketuohai Wetland Nature Reserve of Habahe County. Thousands of migratory birds, including swans, egrets and ducks, fly back to the reserve as spring approaches.
Upon the arrival of the autumn, the old poplars of thousand years by the Zhuomao Lake, in Yiwu district take little by little a golden colour; extending over a surface of more than 40 square kilometres, they attract tourist and many visitors of all China.