Trekking through the expanse of the Gobi Desert and the mountains of Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region forms the core of an exotic experience like no other. This summer, scores of tourists from home and abroad will discover this for themselves.
Xinjiang, in the northwest of the Chinese mainland, is a land of variety offering many different landscapes to the eyes of adventure aficionados.
Xinjiang's vast terrain is glittering with rich resources for tourism, such as the Taklimakan Desert, second largest on the globe and the Tianshan Mountains winding their way across thousands of kilometers. The Kunlun mountain ranges are accompanied by the Balikun Pasture, their scenes of spectacular beauty perfect for those answering the call of the wanderlust. The ancient towns dotted across the Silk Road endow the time-old path with breathtaking natural beauty, adding to the people's colorful ethnic customs. Finally, the Altay range, nicknamed Mountains of Mystery, the legend of Genghis Khan and the heavenly Kanas Lake round out this haven for travelers.
Hu Junfeng, a professional tour guide working in the capital of Urumqi, revealed that he had scaled the 7546-meter-high Mt. Muztag several times this year.
Hu said that close to 40 teams, comprising hundreds of members, had successfully reached the peak of Mt. Muztag in the last two years. Nearly 90 percent of these amateur climbers are from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.
A source from an international travel agency in Xinjiang announced that the tour firm had received over ten adventure groups from abroad this year alone. This number is increasing yearly with many spending over a month in Xinjiang.
"An adventure tour brings its load of trouble and effort as well as a spiritual serenity," said a young worker from Xinjiang. Zhang said that he became interested in mountain-climbing in 1997 and that he had since successfully reached the summit of several of Xinjiang's highest mountains. "I conquered myself and my soul was renewed. I was revived when I stepped onto the mountain-top." he added.
In Xinjiang's Tianshan and Kunlun mountain ranges, four peaks are over 8,000 meters in height, out of only fourteen such mountains in the world, making them bow only to the Himalayan giants in terms of alluring mountaineers.
In recent years, improved infrastructures have made Xinjiang more convenient for traveling and have provided more choices for explorers, especially with the ongoing construction of desert highways. These highways provide travelers with the possibility of trekking deeper into the Xinjiang hinterland. Telecom coverage has also been extended to minimize the risk to these daredevils.
An insider said that most organizations, supervising such as outdoor activities, were voluntarily formed in recent years. However, this has meant that a lack of road safety knowledge and adequate professional guidance are emerging as problems that will need to be rapidly tackled. To monitor conditions, a special department has been set up by the National Mountaineering Administration Center.
(China.org.cn by Wang Zhiyong August 18, 2006)