By Duncan Gordon
In the past, China’s north and western frontiers were the stages for epic battles with invading enemy forces.
Much of these lands today are still sparsely populated expanses of breath-taking natural beauty. Here we countdown the most spectacular grasslands in China…
6. Qilian Mountain Grassland, Qinghai and Gansu.
570 million years ago the Qilian Mountain Grassland arose as the sea subsided. In ancient times it was the grazing ground for Hun chieftains and Mongolian nobles. When the caragana flourishes in the summer the grasslands turn bright yellow and Uygur herdsmen, descendants of the Hun, rove over the grasslands with their black and white yurts and cattle.
5. Nagqu Frigid Grassland, Tibet
The luscious green grass has been almost completely protected from human destruction and, together with the abundant cattle, it makes these grasslands a picture-perfect plateau scene. Wild Tibetan antelopes and donkeys also roam these lands.
4. West Sichuan Frigid Grassland, Sichuan
In late summer and early autumn, horse races and carnivals are held on the grassland at Litang.
3. Xilin Gol Grassland, Inner Mongolia
“Xilin Gol” means “river on the plateau” in the Mongolian language. This unfathomably vast grassland covers more than 200,000 square kilometres on the Mongolian Plateau, with the Xilin River as its soul.
2. Ili grassland, Xinjiang
Just as the Gobi Desert occupies a vast area of China’s largest province, so grasslands and forests are the main features of the north of Xinjiang. The Ili Grassland lies in a fold of the Tianshan Mountains, one of the largest mountain ranges in Asia. The area is ideal for pasturing and farming and is accompanied by snow-capped mountains on its fringes.
1. East Hulun Buir Grassland, Inner Mongolia
These boundless grasslands are characterised by slow moving rivers which, meander far and wide across the earth. In July and August the grasslands are covered with blue balloon flowers, white edelweiss and garden burnet. Living on the grasslands are Mongols, Russian-Chinese families and descendants of the Daur and Ewenki peoples.