Discover North Xinjiang with Kanas Lake

Discover North Xinjiang with Kanas Lake

XJ-2: 6-day Burqin County, Kanas Lake, Hemu Village and Karamay Tour

No doubt, south of Xinjiang is a classic travel route with the experience of driving on the desert highway. When talking about the north, the most popular things which come to people’s minds are: the Gobi desert, the endangered wild horses, Lake Monster in Kanas, one of the three Tuva tribes in China, and the unique Ghost Town. ‘EXOTIC’ is the only word you would use to describe the area north of Xinjiang if you have a chance to visit there. Join in our tour below and explore these exotic places with your own eyes.

CET Advantages

  • See the wide and endless Gobi Desert.
  • Meet the endangered wild Przewalski's Horses.
  • Experience tranquil life in the ancient Hemu Village.
  • Explore the most beautiful lake: Kanas.
  • Appreciate the unique Danxia landform.
Suitable For: Expats, Travel Enthusiasts, Travel Buffs

Full Itinerary

Day 1
Urumqi Arrival

Welcome to Xinjiang, the largest of all the provinces and regions in China. After you have landed in Urumqi Diwopu Airport, your tour guide and driver will welcome you and escort you to the hotel in downtown Urumqi. You are free to explore the city in your spare time. The Erdaoqiao International Bazaar is highly recommended where you can buy local fruits, nuts and souvenirs.

Overnight in Urumqi

Erdaoqiao International Bazaar
Day 2
Urumqi to Burqin County, via Gurbantunggut Desert (breakfast & lunch) (680km, 10 hrs driving)

After breakfast, you will start the journey to the mystical north of Xinjiang. Drive along Route 216, you are going to be passing by the second biggest desert in China, the Gurbantunggut Desert. There are more than 100 types of plant growing in the desert, many of them are good sand-fixing plants and pasture grass. The second highlight is the Kalamai Lishan Nature Reserve. You will have a chance to meet kiangs (wild donkeys), wildebeest and wild camels. In the afternoon, drive to the Rainbow Riverside and see the brilliant sunset. Rainbow Riverside is a typical Danxia formation. Because of the erosion of the red-colored sandstone by river water, it formed colorful rocks near the riverside. During nightfall, the lighting is perfect when the sunlight shines on the rock formations. It’s a great place to see the sunset.

Overnight in Burqin County

Travel Tips:

  • Due to the speed limit on Route 216, it’s a long drive today. Please prepare some fruits and snacks the day before.
  • There are many mosquitos in the Rainbow Riverside during the summer time (from July to September). Please prepare long sleeves before you go.
  • When you are planning good timing for sunset at the Rainbow Riverside, please keep in mind that Xinjiang is 2 hours later than Beijing Time.
the Rainbow Riverside
Day 3
Burqin County to Hemu Village (breakfast & lunch) (160km, 4 hrs driving)

After breakfast at your hotel, head to Hemu Village. Hemu Village has been voted by a travel magazine as one of the five most beautiful villages in China.

Although Hemu is beautiful throughout the four seasons, the colors of fall will make it a picturesque place. It is regarded as a paradise for photographers. The foliage colors here during autumn are indescribable. In early spring you can still see snowy mountain tops as the snow has not fully disappeared. It’s worth a whole day’s walk in the village. You will have a chance to visit a local Tuva Mongol Family. You will meet the very gracious hosts and be offered butter milk tea. They will explain their beliefs and culture to you. They sing their Mongolian song praising nature, while playing on their typical Mongolian musical instrument which is lovely to watch.

The other option is to rent a horse to get to the top of the hill in the village. Having a bird’s eye view from the hill top, you will see the whole village, wooden houses, birch trees and the green colored river meandering its way in the village, which is majestic.

Overnight in Hemu Village

Travel Tips:

  • Driving to Hemu village, you have to pass along zigzag mountain roads. If you suffer from carsickness, please prepare some medicine in advance.
  • You will change to a public shuttle bus at the entrance to the Village. Please leave your big luggage in the private vehicle. Prepare a small bag for all the things you need for overnight.
  • There is a big temperature difference in the morning and evening. Please prepare a winter jacket in July and August. A winter coat and sweater are necessary in May, June, September and October.
Hemu Village
Day 4
Hemu Village to Kanas Lake to Jiadengyu (breakfast & lunch) (140km, 4 hrs driving)

In the early morning, you can climb to one of hill tops and watch the sunrise. As the sun is rising up, the whole village comes under the first rays of the sunshine. You can see the smoke rising up from the wooden houses of the local village. What a tranquil picture! This is a typical picture of the village that makes it the best spot for photographers.

After breakfast, take a shuttle bus and head to the highlight of this trip: Kanas Lake. It will take about 1 hour of driving from Hemu Village. There is a saying: ‘Switzerland is quite far away, but Kanas is so close to you’. It’s the reason that another title of Kanas is ‘Oriental Switzerland’. After seeing it, people would never believe that this is actually in China. The air is clean and fresh, the turquoise water in the river and lakes in Kanas are breathtaking. The lustrous green backdrop forest with the abundance of pine trees gives you a sense of peace and tranquility. You will see a lot of nomads living in yurts during the bus journey.

It’s highly recommended that you take the shuttle bus to Guanyu Pavilion. Climb the 1,068 steps to the top and have a bird's eye view of the lake. Besides Kanas Lake itself, it is well worthwhile to stop along the route to view scenic parts of the river, including Crouching Dragon Bay, Moon Bay and Yaze Bay.

Overnight in Jiadengyu

the Kanas Lake
Day 5
Jiadengyu to Ghost Town to Karamay (breakfast & lunch) (460km, 8 hrs driving)

After having breakfast at your hotel, it’s another long driving day to Karamay which takes about 8 hours. The highlight today is the Wu’erhe Ghost Town .

‘Ghost Town’ got its name from the sound of the howling wind when it passes through the rock formations. With the dry and windy sandstorms over thousands of years from the Gobi Desert, various strange landscapes were created by strong wind and erosion. Some mounds look like pyramids, temples, castles, human faces, turtles and eagles. A number of Chinese movies have been filmed here. The most well-known one is “Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon”. The shuttle electric train goes around the Ghost Town and pauses at key scenic points for the passengers to disembark for photos.

Karamay means ‘black oil’ in the Uyghur language. You can image how many oil fields the city has. It’s also called: a city built on oil fields. On the way to your hotel, you will pass by some oil fields. You will see that thousands of pumping units are working beside the road.

Overnight in Karamay

Wuerhe Ghost Town
Day 6
Karamay to Urumqi, Tour Ends (breakfast & lunch) (300km, 4 hrs driving)

Today you will drive 4 hours back to Urumqi and visit the Xinjiang Ancient Ecological Park. It's the biggest Ferghana Horse(Sweats Blood Horse) Breeding Park in the world. There are more than 100 Sweats Blood Horses in this park. You can see the horseback riding training and performance. You also can find a small dead wood theme park of populus euphratica (Euphrates poplar) trees. Furthermore, a big aerolite and oil painting exhibition are the other highlights of this park.

Sweats Blood Horse

What’s Included

  • Expert tour guides who can speak fluent English, Chinese Mandarin and local dialects
  • Air-conditioned vehicles for land transportation
  • Eight nights’ accommodation in comfortable local hotels with daily breakfast
  • Meals as listed
  • Entrance fee and cost for activities as mentioned
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