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Ili, Oasis Beyond the Great Wall

2021-07-01 16:32:45   By:China-ASEAN    Hits:

(By Chen zhiying)Lying at the north foot of the Tianshan Mountain, Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture is in the west of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, bounded on the northeast by Russia and Mongolia, on the west by Kazakhstan. There is a saying goes that you do not know how vast China is until you visit Xinjiang and you cannot truly admire the beauty of Xinjiang until you tour Ili. So there is no exaggeration to say that Ili is the most beautiful place in Xinjiang. The city features broad and green grasslands, lofty snow mountains, clear lakes, and colorful flower seas. Guozigou Valley, Sayram Lake, Nalati Grassland are the most well-known spots. 

Guozigou — a fantastic wonderland

Guozigou, hailed as “the most famous tourism resort in Ili”, is a meandering valley across the Northern Tianshan Mountains. Boasting a large number of wild fruit trees, it thus has been dubbed Guozigou (fruit valley). It is full of wild apples, apricots, and walnuts. In the dense forest, there are many wild animals and birds, such as rabbits, foxes, wolves, bears, wild boars, red deer and so on, which formed a natural wildlife zoo. When you travel along the highway through the valley, you will be attracted by dark green forest and light green apple trees. In the distance, two or three Kazakh herdsmen’s yurts are doted in the forest with a light cooking smoke floating in the air, forming a paradise view. North of the Guozigou is Sayram Lake, and to the south lies the Ili Valley. Guozigou is considered one of Xinjiang’s most well-known tourist attractions, featuring steep but beautiful scenery. Owning snow-capped mountain peaks, green forests, waterfalls, and blooming flowers on both sides, it is also regarded as the most attractive valley in the Xinjiang during spring and summer. 

Besides fascinating natural scenery, Gouzigou also has practical functions. With a total length of 28 km, Guozigou is the only way to reach the Ili Valley and also an important section of the ancient Silk Road. It has long been an essential passage to Central Asia and Europe. Currently, the Saiguo (Sayram Lake-Guozigou) Highway — a necessary part of the Lianhuo (Lianyungang-Horgos) Expressway — runs through Guozigou. 

说明: 750px-GuozigouLonglensView
Guozigou Bridge


Transportation:Driving along the Urumqi to Ili Highway, you will pass through Guozigou. If you travel from east to west, you will first pass through the famous 

Weather:Sayram Lake, and then through a mountain tunnels several kilometers long, you will reach Guozigou.

Since the temperature difference between day and night in Guozigou is large, tourists are suggested to bring more clothes. Rain gears and sunscreen products should be prepared.

Sayram Lake — the last teardrop of the Atlantic Ocean

Sayram Lake is a fairyland with wonderful natural scenery. Its water is very pure and clear. People can see everything under the water, thus, it got the name of “clear sea” in ancient times. On the surface, flocks of ducks and swans sunbath and frolic. Flourishing cypress and cedar trees cover the whole mountain range. Cottages scatter the foothills of the mountains. Herds of horses and sheep graze on the pastures. What a vivid and splendid picture! The lake has become a top choice for couples to take wedding photos and spend their honeymoons.

说明: 湖
Herds of cows and sheep in the Sayram Lake

The scenery is quite varied in four seasons. In March, when flowers are in full blossom in regions south of the Yangtze River, the Sayram Lake just starts to thaw, showing us the true color of the lake, deep seaweed green. In the sun, the water shimmers as gusts of wind blow across the river. In summer, the sapphire water of the lake seems to meet the sky in the distance, and the yurts of the Kazakh or Mongolian herdsmen can be seen on the mountain slopes covered with a green blanket dotted with colored blooming flowers. Here, nature and humans co-exist in perfect harmony. When it comes to autumn, the fertile grassy meadow around the lake is gone. In its place, instead, is a golden-yellow colored steppe. The mountain peaks are covered with white snow. The belly of the mountain range is unremarkable gray, but at its foot are stretches of golden forests.The striking contrast of these diverse colors presents a brilliant painting before us. In winter, snow falls and the lake begins to freeze. There are different shapes of ice on the surface of the lake, looking like cotton, clouds, earrings, etc. Sayram Lake is wrapped with silver which forms a magnificent view of the snowfield.

Nalati Grassland — grassland in the sky

Located to the east of Nalati Town of Xinyuan County in Ili, the Nalati Grassland is the sub-alpine meadow of the Gongnaisi Grassland that is one of the four largest grasslands of the world. Owing to its high altitude and steep terrain, it is also called “the sky grassland”. Since ancient times, the grassland has been a famous pasture in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. The beautiful scenery here is beyond description. If the boundless grassland is a green sea then the white yurts are sails; herds of sheep, cows, and horses are waves; continuous mountains are coasts; upright cedars on cliffs are heroic guards. From June to September, the vast expanse of lush grassland is dotted with colorful wild flowers. The surrounding snow mountains, white clouds, blue sky make this grassland more charming. Thus, this period is the best time to visit the wonderland. 

说明: 草原
Vast grassland in Ili

Come and indulge yourself in the fantastic scenery here in Ili. The hospitable Kazak herdsmen will welcome you with their particular custom and culture.


Transportation:Although there is a train that goes from Urumqi to Ili (passing the lake), the best way to visit Sayram Lake is either by bus or taxi. Buses leaving Urumqi daily is your cheapest option at only a couple hundred yuan. Taxi is much faster and convenient, but you’ll pay between RMB 400-600 yuan per day.

Weather:The best time to visit Sayram Lake is autumn and summer.

Source: China-ASEAN Panorama


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