Some 30km west of Yumenguan, on the road to Sanlongsha Yardan formations, is the Xihu National Nature Reserve, a 6,600 square kilometre reserve that includes the largets area of saline marshalnd and freshwater pools.The entrance to the reserve can't be missed, because there is a chain across the road. The reserve offices are just a 100 metres to...more
Yumenguan - the Jade Gate - lies in a small dip in the land alongside wetlands of the Shulehe River that rises up in the Qilianshan Mountains and empties into the vast sand and gravel pans of the Kumtag Shamo and Lop Nur.Yumenguan is not particularly strategically located, and it can't be seen from long distances like most Great Wall fortresses as...more
Although many visitors are content to jump out of the car and have a look at the Han Great Wall at Danggushu, few are prepared to make the 2 minute walk up to the beacon tower to the east. However, it is worth it, not so much because of the beacon tower itself, but because lying on the desrt floor behind the tower are the piles of firewood left...more
Although the Han Great Wall extends in fits and starts from near Jiayuguan, it is at its most impressive out here in the Kumtage Shamo part of the Gobi desert. The dry climate has protected the structure and although eons of wind and rain erosion and the feet of many goats and shepherds have taken their toll, their are long stretches of the Han...more
11km east of Yumenguan, along an excellent road is the place known as Dafangpan, where a huge building sits alongside more marshes of the Shulehe river. Although much has been written down the centuries about the famed Yumenguan, very little was ever recorded about this much bigger complex nearby.It has been suggested that Hecang was a substantial...more
Sanlongsha is commonly referred to just as Yardan, Yadan or Yardang - all of which are a bit meaningless because "yardan" is a geological term, and it's a bit like Mount Everest being called"Mountain" or Niagra Falls being called"Waterfall". But in Dunhuang, it's just called Yardan - with those various spellings - and all the travel agencies in...more
The sandstone crags are several kilometres long, and just tens of metres wide, beautfully embossing the Kumtag Shamo. All around, isolated bluffs and ridges have been eroded into the most wonderful shapes. Many have been given names. Indeed it is absolutely necessary in China, as it would seem impossible to enjoy natural scenery unless it is either...more
Deserts play strange tricks on the mind, and deserts play strange tricks on geology as well. A quick glace at satellite images of many deserts and drylands shows weird and wonderful patterns; on the ground these disappear to be replaced by endless expanses whose detail is obscured by shimmering heat. But occasionally, spectacular features rise up...more
There is a quite good restaurant at the Visitor Centre. There is a small souvenir shop which also sells some drinks and snacks, but it is necessary to bring in pretty much anything you might need.
Yumenguan is a popular excursion from Dunhaung, about 125km south east of Yumenguan. All the travel agencies in town offer day trips out here. Many will package up the Sanlongsha Yardan formations (well worth it) and also Yangguan (do the lattter separately!).
Make sure you see the three main sites at Yumenguan (Hecang, the Han Great Wall and the Yumenguan itself). They are all in a 15km stretch along the river.
An additional possibility is to visit the Xihu national nature reserve, west of Yumenguan It's a large wetland in the desert, teeming with birds (and insects!).
Individual travellers can book a taxi for the whole day or get the hotel to arrange a car (anywhere from RMB500 to RMB800....pay at the end). John's Information centre at the Feitian Hotel offers many different tours in the area, and they are well regarded by many travellers .
Tips on all these places will be added in due course!
The marsh at Yumenguan is attractive, but is a breeding ground for biting insects. Take a lot of insect repellant in the summer and cover up any flesh - local people go about dressed like beekeepers!
But more usually there is a stiff wind blowing here, and the temperature can drop quite low, even in the summer months, especially in the morning.
Take care in the summer months as it is very hot here!
Most digital maps place Yumenguan in the wrong place (by some distrance) and show a direct road from Yangguan to Yumenguan. The road to Yumenguan is from a turn off on the Dunhuang to Yangguan route, just before the Yangguan/Nanhuxiang turn-off and well signposted.
I will provide the precise GPS coordinates of all places in and around Yumenguan but unfortunately my brand new Garmin GPS receiver has packed up after just ten days of use! Shocking, eh?