Day 1 Arrive in Dunhuang
You will either fly or taken the train into Dunhuang, and upon arrival you will be met by your English-speaking travel guide. You will then be taken to your hotel for the night.
Dunhuang, long ago referred to as 'Sha Zhou' (beautiful desert oasis), was the hub of middle and eastern silk routes in ancient times. At that time, it was the most westerly frontier military garrison in China. With the flourishing of trade along the Silk Road, Dunhuang was prompted to become the most open area in international trade in Chinese history. It provided the only access westward for the Chinese Empire and eastward for western nationalities. Today, as a reminder of this historical area, we are left with the Mogao Caves, Yangguan Pass, Yumenguan Pass and many wonderful Chinese poems depicting the time. Although what remains of the two Passes are crumbling walls, one can still experience the atmosphere of that time while visiting in person.
Following breakfast, we will explore Dunhuang’s premier attraction, the Mogao Grottoes. The Mogao Grottoes, commonly named Thousand-Buddha Caves, and praised as "a glittering pearl that adorns the Silk Road", are the most famous grottoes in China. Located 25km southeast of Dunhuang County, these caves are carved out of the sandstone cliffs of Mingsha Mountain, extending some 1600m from south to north. Constructed in 10 dynasties from the fourth to the 14th century, its 45000 square meters of mural paintings and more than 2000 color statues are regarded as the greatest treasure-house of Buddhist art existing in the world. Today, 492 caves are still standing. Altogether there are 2,000 statues and over 45,000 separate murals.
Nearby the city of Dunhuang is Echoing Sand Mountain, our next point of interest. Have you ever heard of a mountain that echoes to the sound of sand as you slide down its slopes? Can you image a perennially limpid lake in an area of desert sand? Here you will have the chance to enjoy the wonderful spectacle of the Echoing-Sand Mountain. Seen from afar, the mountain is just like a golden dragon winding its way over the horizon. As you approach you become aware that the sand has many colors ranging from red to yellow, green, black and white. On days when a strong wind blows, the fast shifting sand roars; but when the wind is little more than a light breeze, the sand produces gentle, dulcet sounds akin to music. It is the same when you are sliding down the mountainside. At first, the sand under your feet just whispers; but the further you slide, the louder the sound until it reaches a crescendo like thunder or a drum beat. Some say that the sand is singing, while to others it is like an echo and this is how the mountain gets its name.
Encircled by the mountain, there is the Crescent Moon Lake, so called because of its shape. The water in the lake is so pure and sweet that it looks like an emerald set in the sand. Many of the visitors who have made their way down the mountain like to drink from the lake. According to historical record, the lake has been in existence for hundreds of years without ever being buried by the sand; it is really a geological wonder.
There is also a story about the lake. In the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC- 24), a general called Li Guang, together with a group of soldiers, captured a powerful and swift horse from Dawan, a western state of China at that time. When passing the Echoing-Sand Mountain upon their return, the soldiers became too thirsty to continue their march. General Li drew his sword and thrust it into the side of the mountain causing water to spring forth and so formed the lake.
You will then be taken back to your hotel for the night.
Day 3 Dunhuang-Jiayuguan Pass (B,L)
Today we will visit the most western portion of the Great Wall-Jiayuguan Pass. Also known as “the First and Greatest Pass under Heaven”, Jiayu Pass is the best-preserved and most magnificent military building among the passes of the Great Wall (See more Great Wall adventure tours in Beijing here)..
It is one of the main passes of the Great Wall, along with Juyong Pass and Shanhai Pass. It is located at the narrowest point of the western part of Hexi Corridor, and was a key passageway of the ancient Silk Road. It commands fascinating views of the boundless Gobi Desert and the snow-capped Qilian Mountains.
We will spend the evening at a hotel in Jiayuguan.
After breakfast you will be taken to the local airport, where you will make the short flight to Lanzhou, which is the geometrical center of China. Lanzhou used to be a key point connecting the central China and the western region as well as a vital city on the Silk Road. With mountains in the south and north of the city and the Yellow River flowing from the east to the west, Lanzhou is a beautiful modern city with both the grand beauty of northern cities and the prettiness of southern cities.
Once you arrive a the Lanzhou airport you will be met by your English-speaking guide, and from there you will be taken to your hotel, where you will have a little time to unwind and relax. After your little break, we’ll set out for Five Springs Mountain Park. The park is well-known for its tranquil and beautiful scenery with lush forest, gurgling springs, a lot of ancient temples. Wuquan means five springs in English and it got the name from the five springs in the here namely, Ganlu, Juyue, Mozi, Hui, Meng. This area first became a resort for the rich over 2,000 years ago. The park is a sacred place for the locals. Buddhists throngs here to worship on 8th, April according to he Chinese calendar. Many Buddhism activities will be held on that day.
After breakfast you will be taken to either the Lanzhou airport or train station.