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8-Day Xining Zhangye National Geopark Badain Jaran Desert Tour

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Overview

Tour Type: Private Tour: Flexible Travel Date & Travel Routes
Guide & Driver: Chinese-English-speaking guide & air-conditioned
  • See the best highlights of Xining and its surroundings, including the Ta’er Monastery and the largest lake in China at Qinghai Lake;
  • Explore one of the most beautiful landforms in all of China with the rainbow-colored landscapes ot the Zhangye National Geopark;
  • Visit the home of some of the tallest stationary sand dunes on earth at the Badain Jaran Desert.

Itinerary Day by Day

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Day1  Arrival in Xining
Welcome to Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province! Upon your arrival at the Xining Caojiabao Airport or the train station, your local tour guide will greet you and escort you to your private vehicle and help you check in at your downtown Xining hotel. If you arrive early enough in the day, we will take you to visit the Ta’er Monastery. This monastery was founded in 1583 A.D. on the foundations of some earlier temples that were built to mark the birthplace of Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelug (“Yellow Hat”) sect of Buddhism, who was born in 1357 A.D. This huge complex contains ancient relics of the Yellow Hat sect including a silver tower covered with precious gems and wrapped in ten layers of silk, and a tower reportedly made of pure gold and containing the ashes of Tsongkhapa. Ta’er Monastery is also known for its barbola embroidery, impressive murals and yak butter sculptures known as “suyouhua”.

Accommodation:Overnight in Xining

Day2  Xining – Qinghai Lake - Heimahea
We will get an early start this morning for the 2 ½-hour, 130 kilometer (80 mile) drive to reach the beautiful and massive Qinghai Lake. This lake is the largest lake in China, and it is classified as an alkaline salwater lake. Sitting at an altitude of 3,205 meters (10,515 feet), Qinghai Lake has a surface area of 4,317 square kilometres (1,667 square miles); an average depth of 21 metres (69 feet), and a maximum depth of 25.5 meters (84 feet). The lake is considered to be a holy Tibetan Buddhist site, so you can often see many pilgrims walking along the lakeshore. We will take you to the Erlangjian Scenic Area, where you can walk out on a long pier over the calm waters to enjoy the beauty of Qinghai Lake. Enroute we will pass through some fascinating landscapes of vast grasslands, wide open blue skies, herds of yaks and sheep, and a view of Riyue (Sun & Moon) Mountain so it is an interesting drive getting there and coming back. If you are interested, we can add in some optional sites such as the Dangaer Ancient City or the Jinyintan Prairie along the way.

Due to Qinghai Lake’s location and massive size, it serves as a popular stopover point for many species of migrant birds, particularly on the aptly named Bird Island. The best time to visit for bird watching would be during May and June. Another great time to visit is from late July to early August to see the amazingly beautiful rape flower fields that surround Qinghai Lake.

After visiting the lake, we will travel on for another two hours or so to reach the village of Heimahe on the southwestern edge of the lake where we will spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight by Heimahe

Day3  Qinghai Lake – Chaka Salt Lake – Xining
This morning we will wake up early to watch the stunning sunrise over the massive Qinghai Lake. After breakfast, we will travel around 70 kilometers (43 miles) on to visit the “Mirror of the Sky” – Chaka Salt Lake. This beautiful salt lake has been mined for its salt for more than 3,000 years, and as such, it served as an important station along the ancient Silk Road for centuries. The white salt lake bed along with the unearthly blue sky make this an incredibly beautiful site for photography and a fantastic place to visit that most travelers never get to see. After spending 2 or 3 hours at the Chaka Salt Lake, we will travel back to Xining to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Xining

Sunrise over Heimahe

Day4  Xining – High-speed Train to Zhangye
This morning we will pick you up from your hotel and take you to the Xining train station to board the ultra-modern high-speed (bullet) train from Xining to Zhangye. The train journey will only take about 2 hours as you speed through the amazing scenery along the way. Upon your arrival at the Zhangye West Railway Station, your local tour guide will greet you and escort you to your private car to begin exploring the area.

After lunch, we will drive about an hour outside of Zhangye to visit the Zhangye National Geopark, with its spectacularly-colored landforms and unique topography. Covering an area of 322 square kilometers (124 square miles), these amazing, rainbow colored mountains developed over millions of years as deposits of sandstone and different minerals were sculpted by the elements over the millennia. There are four different viewing platforms scattered across the park, and you will get to visit each of them as shuttle buses are arranged for transport between all of them.

After watching the sunset over these incredible mountains, we will drive on to Sunan County to spend the night.

Today’s travel tips:
1) As you will be outside all afternoon, be sure to use plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses, protective clothing and hats to protect yourself from the strong sunlight at the higher altitude.
2) Sunset is the best time for taking photos, with the sun setting around 7 – 8 p.m. during the summer and 6 to 7 p.m. during the winter.

Accommodation:Overnight in Zhangye

Day5  Binggou Danxia – Zhangye
This morning we will take you on to visit another place of spectacular beauty at the Binggou Danxia landforms. Smaller and much less visited than the Zhangye National Geopark, Binggou Danxia offers less color but more spectacularly sculpted landscapes than the geopark. You will be amazed at the incredible views that nature has created in this very special place.

After a morning of viewing nature’s handiwork, we will drive about 90 minutes back to Zhangye to visit the Dafo (Great Buddha) Temple, the home of the largest indoor reclining Buddha in all of China. This huge Buddha measuring 35 meters (115 feet) long was constructed of of clay over a wooden frame sometime around 1100 A.D. It remains largely unaltered since the days of the Western Xia Dynasty (1038 – 1227 A.D.) and it is amazing that it has survived intact for more than 900 years. The temple also houses around 6,000 ancient Buddhist scriptures and a Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911 A.D.) mural that depicts the story of the famous Buddhist monk Xuanzhuang riding a horse with the monkey king Sun Wukong kneeling on the ground.

After visiting the Dafo Temple, we will check into our Zhangye hotel and spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight in Zhangye

Day6  Zhangye – Badain Jaran Desert
After an early breakfast at your hotel, we will drive 250 kilometers (155 miles) for around 3.5 hours to the Badain Jaran Desert. Covering an area of 49,000 square kilometers (19,000 square miles), the Badain Jaran Desert is the third largest desert in China although it is also considered to be a sub-desert of the Gobi Desert that borders it on the north. The Badain Jaran also is home to some of the tallest stationary sand dunes in the world – the sand within them has compacted into hardened layers of dense sand and sandstone over the past 20,000 years so that only the surface layer of sand moves. The desert also has more than 100 spring-fed lakes amongst the sand dunes, some of which are fresh water while others are extremely salty. The name “Badain Jaran” means “mysterious lakes” in Mongolian.

After visiting the desert, we will check into a local hotel to spend the night.

Accommodation:Overnight at local hotel

Day7  Badain Jaran Desert – Zhangye
Wake up very early this morning to witness an incredible sunrise over the Badain Jaran Desert. Sunrise usually begins around 6 a.m. but it is best to get to a higher location around an hour before that to be prepared. Probably the best site for photography is Bilutu Peak, a stationary sand dune that stands 500 meters (1,600 feet) tall as the tallest stationary sand dune in the world. Bilutu Peak makes for an interesting climb with a panoramic view of the surrounding dunes and lakes awaiting you at the top. After viewing the sunrise, we can explore some of the other attractive sites in the desert before departing for lunch.

After lunch, we will drive back to Zhengye where you will have the rest of the day to rest and relax or explore around your hotel on your own.

Accommodation:Overnight in Zhangye

Day8  Departure from Zhangye
Today is free for you until we escort you to the Zhangye airport or train station for your flight or train on to your next destination. It is easy to find flights or trains to Xian, Xining, Lanzhou or Dunhuang with connecting flights or trains on to other cities.

Today's Tips:

1) Please take care to pack all of your belongings, particularly the small things that are easy to forget about, such as phone and camera chargers, power adapters, mobile phones, wallets, etc.
2) If your flight or train is in the afternoon, please be sure to check out of your hotel room by 12 p.m.

Accommodation:None

What's Included

Private professional English-Speaking local tour guide
Licensed Vehicle with experienced driver
All accommodations listed in the itinerary
Meals specified in the itinerary as "B, L, D".
Entrance tickets listed in the itinerary
Tourists Accident/Casualty Insurance
A container of Oxygen for emergency use in Tibet
All taxes, fees and handling charges
Lodging and meal allowance to the guide & driver
2 bottles of drinking water per person per day
International flight to and from China.
China visa.
Sightseeing not listed in the itinerary.
Meals not listed in the itinerary.
Personal expenses such as laundry, drink, fax, telephone call, optional tour activities, etc.
Tips to guides, drivers, bellboys, etc.
Entrance tickets not listed in the itinerary
Single room supplement.

Additional Info

Alterations of Itineraries

The travel date, service items, itinerary and number of visitors, visitors’ ID information, etc. can be modified free of charge 30 days or more before the trip. If the visitor needs to make a second modification, an additional service fee of 5% of the deposit will be charged. Every time the content of the travel contract is modified, the company reserves the right to re-quote.

Cancellation Policy

Once the deposit is paid, your trip is confirmed. If you need to change or cancel your itinerary, please contact your travel consultant by email, phone, instant messenger, etc. There will be a charge for Cancellation or modification. The policy is as follows:

1. Notice of trip cancellation due to personal reasons before the trip starts
Cancellation 30 days or more before the trip starts, 10% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 29-15 days before the trip starts, 20% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 14-7 days before the trip starts, 30% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation 6-2 days before the trip starts, 50% penalty of the deposit.
Cancellation within 48 hours prior to the trip starts, no refund of your deposit.

2. Trip cancellation due to irresistible factors before the trip starts

If you have to cancel the itinerary due to irresistible reasons such as traffic, weather, politics, etc., the deposit will be fully refunded by the company (for loss related to air ticket/train ticket, please take reference of the first item).

Reviews

 Shanghaipitt
Travel Date:November 8, 2019

Just wanted to say I and my partner Jane had a fantastic trip of a lifetime and can’t thank all the team enough! Amy you did a great job! Everything went perfect loved the ancient Hotel and Tibetan people were so so nice to us. Train journey was a pleasure and 2 days past like 2 hours.

Would have loved more days in Tibet.

 Nepal890
Travel Date:May 16, 2019

Anfangs April 2019 flog ich von Zürich-Chengdu nach Xining Dort blieb ich 2 Nächte ( anklimatisieren) und nahm nachher den Abendzug nach Lhasa. Etwas skeptisch betr. Sauberkeit! Alles war tadellos und die Abteils 1. Klasse (unbedingt) sehr sauber. Nach 20 Std. Fahrt sah es dann anders aus! Mein Tipp gilt für die ganze Tibetreise, viel trinken (pro 1000m Höhe.1 Liter) kein Alkohol, kein Stress, Diamox und Nasenspray. Ich hatte die ganze Zeit überhaupt kein Problem ( der Körper signalisiert es frühzeitig)

In Lhasa begann meine Overlandtour, die Gruppe bestand aus 2 Personen! Super! Die ganze Reise war wunderschön, alles gut organisiert. Ein Dankeschön geht an Asia Odyssey travel, besonders an Claire, meine Betreuerin ( die sehr gut deutsch sprich)t und an den Guide Pingzhuo, ein ganz toller, lieber Kerl!

Ich kann die Tour in jeder Beziehung nur empfehlen!

 Sharon C
Travel Date:April 23, 2019

Tibet has been one of my top travel destinations. As a Buddhism, visiting places tapping into sacred goddess and Mother Nature becomes a dream for me to achieve. At the age of 40, I am so happy I have finally made my dream come true.

The trip planning to Tibet has never been easy for Taiwanese. To grant a permit by a trust worthy travel agent is already a hassle, my first trip plan didn’t get though two years ago. I am glad I found odyssey travel agent for my second try. The whole process started off with zero trust, trip advisor and Facebook helped me to validate its credibility, and further more I had even asked for reference check from the agent. Thanks Kay for being a nice and patient coordinator during this planning process.

With all had prepared, our group has been one of the most peaceful and harmony travel company I have been with. With years of experience, I have not been with a group of >20 until this time, apart from school and company team building. To spend 9 days with who I meet the first time and could probably the only time caused me zero worry with the brilliant tour guide Xiao Gao!

If you’ll and would like to have a joyful and unforgettable journey in Tibet, going up to the Everest base camp is definitely the only option. So is odyssey travel.

 Lliuhenr
Travel Date:November 15, 2019

I wanted to visit Tibet for a very long time. Since I live in abroad, this wish was like The Everest Mountain, unreachable. After we contacted Ms. Kate, (高小乐), everything became so easy. Kate was very knowlegeable about Tibet, and very patient with our questions. We have been with her for about a year to prepare for the trip. She has provided excellent services. Due to the considerable preparation, the trip went better that I expected. This was the most memorable trip I ever had thusfar. Thanks Kate!

 A TripAdvisor China Member
Travel Date:January 3, 2019

Most beautiful place to go! Tour guide very funny and knowledgeable. Tour guide very good on taking picture. Suggest more site seeing and less temple. Suggest to eat hot pot every night. We reach the tallest point of 5248. Make sure not to fall to sleep. Make sure to take high altitude sickness bill and travel sickness bills before going. This trip is not for everyone, but for those whose are health and want to have some advantages. Make sure to bring flu and cold medicine with you since you can get sick very easily during winter. Very cold during the winter and make sure to bring enough cloths. Bring lotions, sun glasses and gloves. Make hot water every night in hotel and put it into the drink bottle to warm your bed. Best if you take the train to go in and plane to get out. But check the weather first, if snowing make sure to take the train. Once snowing, all plane will stop flying. Most beautiful place to go! Tour guide very funny and knowledgeable. Tour guide very good on taking picture. Suggest more site seeing and less temple. Suggest to eat hot pot every night. We reach the tallest point of 5248. Make sure not to fall to sleep. Make sure to take high altitude sickness bill and travel sickness bills before going. This trip is not for everyone, but for those whose are health and want to have some advantages. Make sure to bring flu and cold medicine with you since you can get sick very easily during winter. Very cold during the winter and make sure to bring enough cloths. Bring lotions, sun glasses and gloves. Make hot water every night in hotel and put it into the drink bottle to warm your bed. Best if you take the train to go in and plane to get out. But check the weather first, if snowing make sure to take the train. Once snowing, all plane will stop flying.

 Chrisz
Travel Date:Sep. 21st 2018

It was the first time we went to Tibet. Too much things we need to arrange, itinerary, travel date, tickets, permit…We were lucky to have had Kay handle our plan. She was professional, efficient and dealt everything in order. Our trip went smoothly as planned. We visited Lhasa, yamdroke lake, Everest, the beauty of Tibet was beyond my expectation except the altitude sickness.