Xinjiang Tianshan is a mountain range that holds glaciers, snowcapped peaks, alpine meadows, lakes and canyons.
These mountains are in stark contrast with the surrounding six deserts, of which part of the Taklamakan Desert is within the WH area borders.
This site covers the Chinese part of the Tianshan mountains, which extend into Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Tomur is its highest peak at 7,443m.
The site has 4 components:
Map of Xinjiang TianshanLoad map
Xinjiang Tianshan [Visited May 2019]
Ah, Xinjiang. Mere mention of this place even to local Chinese elicits caution and to some degree fear. These are heightened by selective local media and racial profiling. Yet for us foreigners, Xinjiang, at of the crossroads between east and west and a key node of the silk road, is place for mystery and adventure.
Safety and convenience are at the top of everyone’s concern when planning to visit Xinjiang. As of writing, foreigners don’t need a special visit permit. But once you landed at the airport, you will start to feel the enhanced security. Police will get your details and put to their system. They will also ask you for your itinerary. This heightened security will be the norm within your stay in the region where police checks are on every corner and xray machines welcome you at each hotel. “Big Brother” surveillance is also rampant but I will leave out geo-political discussion out of this review.
The most accessible component of Tianshan is Bogda mountain, a day trip from Urumqi. Hiring a car for a day is just 300 RMB. There is also one tourist bus going the Tianchi Scenic Area in front of Urumqi People Square at 09:00 and comes back at 17:00 for 60 RMB return trip. The ride to the site is nothing scenic and took 2 hours to the visitors entrance. If you miss the tourist bus, you may take the long distance bus to neighbouring Fukang and take local bus from there.
Like most tourist areas in China, management plan is well laid and visiting is well organised. At the visitors entrance there are shuttle buses that brings everyone to The Heavenly Lake (Tianchi) which is at the core zone in an hour. Most tourist groups will just crowd near the bus stop. Venturing further provides places of solitude and hiking around the lake area is possible via the circumferential planks and will take 4-5 hours. There is also an option to take the cable car to Maya Peak which is actually at the buffer zone of the site.
Xinjiang Tianshan is inscribed for its natural phenomena and beauty as well as its biological and ecological processes. It would be hard to appreciate this OUV by just visiting the Heavenly Lake. The snowy peaks of Tiashan viewed over the turquoise water of the lake is indeed pretty, but I think it is typical of an alpine landscape. One of the stronger justification of the OUV is on the stark contrast between the snowy peaks in a desert landscape but this is hard to appreciate on Bogda itself. I only saw the snow peaks of Bogda against the dryness of surroundings during my tour in Turpan visiting the Silk Road Sites there. I do am looking forward to visiting the other components at the south. I think they will be more rewarding and fulfilling.
P.S. Some hotels in Urumqi does not allow foreigners or the government temporarily revoke their license. Even if you booked on legitimate sites, better call the hotel in advance. We were not allowed to billet on a popular chain of boutique hotel when we arrived since their permit was revoked few days earlier. Good thing the booking site reimbursed the payment and even paid the cost delta for our new hotel.
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