Stage 5: Bayan Hot / Alashan Zuoqi to Alashan Youqi and the Badain Jaran desert (from our diary)

The Route of 2011, Stage 5: By Margie (click here for Adam’s version)

Bayan Hot / Alashan Zuoqi to Alashan Youqi and the Badain Jaran Desert (from our diary)

Desert Landscape near Alashan youqi 阿拉善右旗的沙漠风景 Our Destination

Click here for stages 4 & 6

Stage 4: Yinchuan to Bayan Khot
Stage 6: Zhangye and around

The new bus station looks a lot like an airport terminal and there isn’t much in it yet. The bus, however, does leave on time (7.20 am) and that’s the main thing. It fills up completely, of course, and our seats are quite far to the back, but overall it’s ok.

Our Bus

We start off on the brand-new motorway we had been on yesterday – and it’s still empty – but soon we turn onto an older road. All around us there is an ugly, greyish desert and lots of empty space.

The road

The only exotic element is provided by the camels of which we now see whole herds, on both sides of the road.

More camels

In fact, there are so many that even their exoticness wears off eventually.Toilet stops are few and far between and usually on the primitive side: often Continue reading “Stage 5: Bayan Hot / Alashan Zuoqi to Alashan Youqi and the Badain Jaran desert (from our diary)”

Yinchuan银川 to Bayan Khot (or Alashan Zouqi 阿拉善左旗) via Guangzong Si 广宗寺, or Nan Si南寺

The Route of 2011, Stage 4: by Margie

 

Roaming Camels Near Bayan Khot

Click below for Stages 3 & 5:

Stage 3: Yinchuan (银川) and around

Stage 5: Bayan Khot to Alashan Youqi and the Badain Jaran Desert

Our driver has agreed to take us all the way to Bayan Khot via Guangzong Si (once one of the most important monasteries in Mongolia) for 300 Yuan; or at least that’s what we think … We have managed to get up reasonably early and are making good progress.

The Great Wall

The first highlight of the day is when we suddenly catch sight of the ruins of the Great Wall! This is the real thing: unrestored, without tickets, souvenir stalls, or people. It is just standing there, defiant, majestic, having weathered so many centuries.

Great Wall

Of course, there’s not much left of it, it’s been reduced to a crumbling pinkish pile of earth, riddled with holes. But we don’t mind, we’re just thrilled to be there. Continue reading “Yinchuan银川 to Bayan Khot (or Alashan Zouqi 阿拉善左旗) via Guangzong Si 广宗寺, or Nan Si南寺”

Badain Jaran Desert (The world’s highest sand dunes)/巴丹吉林沙漠 (世界上最高的沙丘)

Badain Jaran Desert

(The world’s highest sand dunes)/巴丹吉林沙 漠(世界上最高的沙丘)

Amazing Dunes At Badan

(Badain Jaran Desert is the Mongolian name  / Badan Jilin Shamo is the Chinese name)

Getting to the magnificent Badain Jaran Desert, home to the world’s highest sand dunes, is far more straightforward than it appears on the map and in the guide books and can be done independently, with a bit of effort and determination. The desert can be approached from two directions: either from Ningxia’s capital Yinchuan via the Inner Mongolian town of Bayan Khot (also known as Alashan Zuoqi  阿拉善左旗), or from the Gansu town of Zhangye.

The base for visiting the desert is Alashan Youqi (阿拉善右旗), which is connected by a daily bus from Bayan Khot, or by two daily buses from Zhangye.
Below is the basic information you need to do the trip. In a few weeks we will be putting up a longer article about our experience there, illustrated with more photos.

Desert Lakes In Badan Jaran Desert

 

Getting there from Yinchuan

There are regular buses from Yinchuan’s main bus station to Bayan Khot, which should take around 2 hours. However, we decided to hire a taxi (400 Yuan) because that allowed us to stop at the ruins of the Great Wall at Sanguankou (三关口) and to make a side-trip to the Mongolian monastery complex of Guanzongsi (广宗寺). If you left really early, with a hired car you could also include a visit to Moon Lake, a desert playground for wealthy Chinese.

Desert Temple

Bayan Khot (Alashan Zuoqi  阿拉善左旗)

Accommodation:

Bayan Khot has many hotels, but a fair few of them are somewhat run-down and/or don’t take foreigners, so it is worth looking for the wonderful,  Continue reading “Badain Jaran Desert (The world’s highest sand dunes)/巴丹吉林沙漠 (世界上最高的沙丘)”