Dragon Boat Festival Road Trip in Xinjiang: Experiencing Majestic Landscapes

A Dragon Boat Festival road trip through Ili, Xinjiang, exploring majestic landscapes and local delicacies, capturing unforgettable moments.

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Three years ago, I traveled around northern Xinjiang with Addo in a camper van, an unforgettable journey especially for the Ili Valley. This Dragon Boat Festival, I decided to return to Ili for a road trip.

After meticulous planning, I set off from Beijing, transferred at Urumqi, and arrived in the beautiful Yining. Here, we rented a car and embarked on a one-week, 1344-kilometer road trip.

Aerial Video

In this video, you will see stunning aerial footage from my journey. From vast grasslands to clear lakes, from towering mountains to winding roads, these beautiful landscapes are perfectly captured in the video.

Kazanqi in Yining

Our first stop was Kazanqi Folk Village in Yining, a town full of ethnic charm. The streets are lined with unique traditional houses, colorful walls, and blue doors, like a fairy tale world. The village exudes a strong sense of life, with locals going about their daily activities.

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Kazanqi in Yining

Ili River

From Kazanqi, we headed to the Ili River. The river’s clear water and lush greenery on both banks are mesmerizing. We watched a breathtaking sunset at the Ili Wetland Park, immersed in nature’s beauty.

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Ili River

Kalajun

Our third stop was Kalajun Grassland. The vast grasslands, with herds of cattle and sheep, and the distant snow-capped mountains under the blue sky, create a stunning natural painting. At an average altitude of over 2000 meters, the air is exceptionally fresh. Camping here, I experienced the tranquility of nature after a night of rain, with the golden sunrise illuminating the mountains.

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Kalajun Grassland

Qiongkushitai

Next, we arrived at Qiongkushitai, an original Kazakh village. Despite some commercialization, it retains its primitive charm. Newly opened homestays and restaurants attract many visitors. We rode horses to the back mountains, enjoying the purest natural beauty, especially at sunset, with rolling grasslands and distant snow-capped mountains creating a picturesque scene.

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Qiongkushitai

Xiata Ancient Trail

Xiata Ancient Trail was a significant part of our journey. This ancient trail was once part of the Silk Road, with spectacular mountain gorge scenery along the way. Though the scenic area was not yet open, we used a drone to capture the glacier valleys.

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Xiata Ancient Trail

Yizhao Highway

Yizhao Highway is known as one of the most beautiful roads in Xinjiang. The scenery changes from mountains to grasslands, from forests to lakes, each view captivating. Driving along the cliffs, I couldn’t help but admire the efforts of the road builders.

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Yizhao Highway

Sayram Lake

Our final stop was Sayram Lake, located in the Bortala Mongol Autonomous Prefecture. The lake’s clear water, as blue as Prussian blue, is surrounded by snow-capped mountains and grasslands, creating a poetic landscape. We strolled along the lake, spent the night on the west bank, and felt the serenity and grandeur of this place known as “the last tear of the Atlantic.”

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Sayram Lake

This road trip not only allowed me to experience the magnificent natural scenery but also the unique ethnic culture of the region. I captured the beauty of the journey with aerial footage and created a video to share with everyone.

Local Delicacies

Ili’s scenic beauty is matched by its delicious food. The tender roasted meat on red willow skewers, spicy and flavorful chili meat (a local breakfast paired with steamed buns), the numbing and spicy pepper chicken, and the fragrant fried rice with mountain salmon roe from Sayram Lake, all left a lasting impression.

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Clockwise from top left: fried rice with mountain salmon roe, roasted meat on red willow skewers, chili meat, pepper chicken

Xinjiang’s dried fruits, cheese, and beef jerky also make great souvenirs.

Conclusion

This journey will be a memorable chapter in my life. The beauty and charm of Xinjiang Ili have deeply captivated me. If given the chance, I will surely return to explore more unexplored landscapes.

I hope this travelogue brings you some beautiful memories of Xinjiang Ili. If you have the opportunity to travel to Xinjiang, don’t miss these stunning spots.

Last updated on Jun 19, 2024