Up, down and around Danxia – all before noon.

The Danxia Range of rocky outcrops in Goangdong, China, is so insanely beautiful that it for sure deserves inclusion in my Top100 Must-See Places in the World. Massive lumps of red rock with vertical sides some several hundred meters high, scattered over a territory stretching some 10×15 kilometers.

Our first glimpse of Danxia came early morning, when none of the redness is visible; actually, there was redness, but only of the sensational skies as the sun came up. Then the redness gets bizarrely transferred to the rocks, which we set off to get closer to…

If ever you fancy getting here yourself, be warned: checking out all the beautifulness here entails a lot of walking – and that includes a lot of ups and downs on steep steps. In a day you could be looking at some 15 to 20 kilometers. Then you need to take into account the extreme climatic conditions too. Not only can it be 28-35 degrees Centigrade, it also gets horrendously humid. But what else do you expect in the tropics?! Just make sure to wear breathable sporty kit for your trekking; regular cotton shorts and t-shirts just get soaked through (even breathable kit gets soaked too, but it’s much more bearable somehow).

Another petty torture you need to put up with here: most maps look like the one below, i.e., with no English translations (besides the title!):


If you look hard enough, however, you can find some more helpful maps:


So what else can I say about the geography of Danxia? The mountain range is about 230km to the north of Guangzhou Airport (2.5-3 hours on the very decent highway), not far from the city of Shaoguan.

Apparently there are three main rocky outcrops that are most interesting for tourists:

  1. 长老峰, or Tchan-lao-foon (if I heard it right), aka Zhang Lao Feng (Elder Peak). Highlights are: sunrise of a morning, Female Stone, and a nice river with boats (but you can get round it all on foot in just 30 minutes).
  2. 阳元石, or Yan-Yue-Shee, aka Male Mountain. Highlights: the unmistakably manly mountain, a cool pavilion up top, and sunsets about as sensational as the sunrises at Elder Peak.
  3. 巴寨景区, or Ba-Ji-Den-Chooie (again, at least that’s how it sounded to me), aka Bazhai. Highlights: a terrace half-way up a vertical cliff face 600m up (requires climbing up 200m of quite possibly the steepest steps in the whole world!); view of the Teapot.

Those three sounded like a plan. So off we headed in their direction, via this here grandiose gateway…

Before 11 we’d already made it to the top of Zhang Lao Feng. Next was the long descent back down again into the valley.

That descent was made mostly on steps; a blessing, but only a small one: sometimes they get pretty hairy-precarious:

Female Stone, here we come!…

The steps to Female Stone were much less extreme than we’d been used to:

But check these out – these are the steps you needed to scale (yikes!) before this ‘civilized’ staircase was installed:

Indeed, most pleasant round here. Nice paths, cozy stopping-off points, and not to mention the glorious nature all around. Most pleasant, that is, besides it being just tooooo swelteringly hot to relish it all to the full…

You see the tiny non-green blip on the top of this cliff in the next pic? That’s the viewing platform/pavilion from which we took the pics of the sunrise that morning. And that’s the scary zigzag staircase we came down after:

Well, well. This, ladies and gents, is the Female Stone. The Chinese don’t seem to be shy with their naming conventions! All right for them, but now I need to add ‘Parental Advisory’ to this here blogpost. I think that’s a first!

Onward we marched sailed; actually, onward we sailed for our second lap…

The second lap was necessary since we’d only seen one half of the mountain range here. The other half (where the cable car is) we traversed before daybreak, i.e., in pitch blackness (which reminds me: you don’t need warm clothes for checking out the sunrise, but a hat with a torch mounted on the front is highly recommended).

So up we went again in the funicular, this time by day. And what a difference!

Here’s the peak-pavilion again:

The peak protruding up to the left in the next pic: Rudder Stone.

Well that’s it for today folks. Time for lunch, I feel. And then rest a little before the evening’s entertainments…

Back with more from Danxia tomorrow!…

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