Rainbow Mountains Photosafari from 23-31st October 2019


In the autumn of 2019, Photosafari is organising a photo trip to Zhjangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains, Qinghai Lake and Badan Jaran Desert. The journey starts at Xian, the ancient capital of China. We will be spending a day visiting the famous Terracotta Soldiers and the Muslim Street. From Xian, we will fly to Xining, the capital of Qinghai. Here, we will visit the Qinghai Lake and its surrounding villages and towns. From Xining, we will take the high-speed train to Zhangye and visit the famous Rainbow Mountains. After visiting the Rainbow Mountains, we will take a short drive to Badan Jaran Desert. This is the third largest desert in the world. We will be staying overnight at a local Herdsmen Hostel in the desert. Finally, we will take a high-speed train from Zhangye to Xian for the evening flight back.

Rainbow Mountains

The Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye, Danxia is a UNESCO Heritage site. About 100 million years ago, the Zhangye Danxia Mountains used to be a huge basin with an inland lake. The silt which contains various minerals were laid layer by layer at the bottom of the lake. Periodically the lake waters dried up, and during these arid periods when the sediment was exposed to the sun atmosphere, the layers were oxidised and they changed into different colours. Over time, many layers of many colours were laid at the bottom of the lake.

When the mighty Himalayans were being formed by the Indian tectonic plate pushing against the unyielding Asian land mass, the regions behind the Himalayans were also folded into small mountain ranges. Over time, the tops of these mountains were eroded by water, wind, and ice. Today, what you see in the Zhangye Danxia region are the remaining stumps and synclines of previously higher mountains. The ridges, pillars, towers and waterfalls, which differ in colour, texture, shape, size and patterns, are an amazing sight to behold and photograph.

Badan Jaran Desert

This desert in China is the third largest in the world. It spans from Gangsu, Ninxia and Inner Mongolia. This desert is home to some of the tallest sand dunes on earth. Some of which are as high as 500m. There are about 100 spring fed lakes lying within the desert.

Qinghai Lake

This is the largest lake in China. It has a surface area of 4,317 sq. km and an average depth of about 21m. This lake is located at 3,200m above sea level. This lake is located at the crossroads of several bird migration routes across Asia.

How to get there?

Air Asia flies from directly from Kuala Lumpur to Xian

Weather and Clothes

The temperature around that time is around 10-15 0C. It would be colder at night. We suggest that you use layered clothing so that you can adapt to the various temperature conditions.

Camera Equipment

You will need an ultra-wide angle, wide angle, and a medium telephoto lens. You need to prepare for people, travel, and landscape photography. A sturdy tripod is a must for good landscape and Milky Way photography. We will be giving a briefing on camera equipment when the time comes before our departure.

Difficulty of this trip

Easy to Moderate as most of the time you will be driven to the place of photography. However, there will be a bit of walking involved. There will be one night that we will be staying inside the Badan Jaran Desert. Please pack light as there will be one domestic flight and two high-speed train rides.

Meeting place of this trip

We will meet you at Xian and you will depart from Xian, China.


  1. 23rd Oct Day 01:Xi’an Arrival (no meals)
  • Group meet in Xi’an Airport,
  • Transfers to hotels. (AirAsia arrives at Xian at about 11:30pm)
  1. 24th Oct Day 02: Xi’an City tour (B,L)
  • Visit the Muslim quarter and the Great Mosque,
  • Visit the Qin Terra-cotta warriors and horses Museum,
  • Drive back to Xi’an in the afternoon.
  • Free and Easy
  1. 25th Oct Day 03: Xi’an-Xining (B,L)
  • Take morning flight to Xining (08:10-09:40),
  • Transfer and drive to Jianzha County (1.5 hour) the main residents here are Tibetan and Tu people, who are simple, honest and unspoiled.
  • Visit the Kanbula, it combines natural view and historical site, there are Danxia landform, a lake on the upper reaches of the Yellow River and a Tibetan Buddhism Monastery in this area.
  • Drive back to Xining.
  • Check-in hotel
  • Free and easy
  1. 26th Oct Day 04: Xining – Qinghai Lake – Hemahe Town (B,L)
  • Drive to Qinghai Lake, the biggest salt water inland lake in China (2.5 hour drive),
  • Drive by the north edge of the lake, view Snow Mountains, and grasslands, We may be able to see some migratory birds
  • Onward drive to He Ma He, a small town which lies at the southwest corner of the lake.
  • Check-in hotel
  • Free and Easy
  1. 27th Oct Day 05 Qinghai Lake – Xining-Zhangye (B,L)
  • Early get-up to view sunrise by Qinghai Lake,
  • Breakfast at hotel
  • Drive back to Xining by the south edge,
  • On the way we stop and visit the Daotanghe Town and  Huangyuan County,
  • Drive directly to Xining high-speed train for late pm train to Zhangye,
  • Transfer to a hotel near the Rainbow Mountains.
  1. 28th Oct Day 06 Zhangye-Badanjaran Town(B,L)
  • Visit the colorful Zhangye Danxia Geological park and the Rainbow Mountains
  • Visit the Giant Buddha Temple, the treasure of this temple is a giant indoor reclining Buddha in this temple, the biggest in Asia.
  • Drive to the Badan Jaran Town (2 hour’s drive). This town lies near the desert.
  • Check-in hotel
  • Free and easy
  1. 29th Oct Day 07 Badanjaran Town- Desert (B,L) 
  • Drive to the Badan Jaran Desert (30 minutes-drive), the 3rd largest desert in the world.
  • Visit the desert: the private 4WD vehicle will transfer you deep into the desert,
  • On the way will stop for sunset shoot if possible (2-3 hour’s)
  • Stay overnight in local herdsmen’s hostel near the Badan Jaran Temple in the desert.
  • Free and easy
  • Milky way shoot in the evening
  1. 30th Oct Day 08 Badan Jaran Desert- Zhangye(B,L)
  • Early departure for sunrise shoot in the desert, the best point to shoot sunrise is the 1600-meter high Bilutu Peak, (Optional)
  • Climbing to the top needs 2 hours!
  • Onward travel to the North Lake, the Mingsha sand dunes,
  • Finally you’ll be driven to the entrance to meet our bus.
  • Lunch,
  • Drive back to Zhangye to have a good rest.
  1. 31th Oct Day 09 Zhangye-Xian- Departure (B,L or D)
  • Breakfast
  • Check-out hotel
  • Take high-speed train back to Xi’an (11:10-17:50),
  • Transfer to Xi’an airport, have dinner near the airport, finally transfer for home flight, end of service. (AirAsia leaves Xian at around 00:15)

If you are interested in this trip please contact for further information and registration : [email protected] 

Photo Gallery

Rainbow Mountains, Danxia

Rainbow Mountains at sunrise

Rainbow Mountains

Rainbow Mountains

Badan Jaran Desert

Badan Jaran Desert

Monastery at Badan Jaran Desert

Kanbula Scenes



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