Situated near Kunming in beautiful Yunnan province, is the breathtaking Dongchuan Red Earth. This region in the Dongchuan District is known for its soil, which is rich in iron oxide deposits, which over time have produced incredible carmine-hued earth. Despite its remote location, this area is world-renowned amongst photographers for the picturesque, stunning landscapes. With its awe-inspiring natural beauty, Dongchuan Red Earth is an attraction that cannot be missed.
- Dongchuan District is located in Sichuan province, covering 1,858 square kilometers (717 square miles).
- Dongchuan Red Earth is a remote area of topography in the Wumeng mountains.
- It is about 40 km from the Dongchuan District of Kunming City, and roughly 200 km from the city proper, which is the capital of Yunnan.
- The lowest point is at an elevation of 1,800 m, and the highest is situated at about 2,600 m.
- The central location of the Dongchuan Red Earth is the area surrounding Huagou (meaning “colourful valley”), in Xintian Township.
History Of Dongchuan Red Earth
Ethnic peoples have populated the area where Dongchuan Red Earth is located since ancient times. The Yi people (or Nuosuo people) number around 8 million, living predominantly in the mountainous regions of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, and Guizhou. Of the more than 8 million comprising the total population, over 4.5 million reside in Yunnan.
Most scholars agree that the Yi people are descendants of the ancient Qiang, who inhabit present-day western China. The Qiang people are also believed to be the forebears of the Naxi, Qiang, and Tibetans. The Yi migrated from southeastern Tibet through Sichuan, into Yunnan. Various Yi subgroups live in Dongchuan including the “Black Yi” and “White Yi”.
In 1958, Dongchuan was deemed a city. By 1998, the area was merged into Kunming, becoming one of its districts. The remote mountainous section where Dongchuan Red Earth is located remained a secret the outside world, until Chinese photographers discovered its breathtaking beauty in the mid-1990s. The area surrounding Huangou in the Wumeng Mountains is the central location of the spectacular Dongchuan Red Earth. Although these photographers attempted to keep its location a secret, unsurprisingly, the stunning natural landscape quickly became famous.
Today, Dongchuan Red Earth is not a major tourist attraction, but its incredible natural beauty draws photography enthusiasts the world-over. The breathtaking scenery is certainly worth the somewhat off-the-beaten path trek.
Culture Of Dongchuan Red Earth
Within a several dozen-kilometer radius of Huangou, there are several exquisite highlights of Dongchuan Red Earth. These include Luoxiagou Village, Damakan Village, Jinxiu Yuan, Qicaigou, Yuepuao, Shuipingzi,and Luosiwan.
Luoxiagou (which translates into “sunset valley) offers the most extraordinary sunsets in the entire Dongchuan Red Earth region. It is favoured spot for photographers wanting to capture the exceptional natural beauty and shifting light. Photographers ought to arrive to Luoxiagou in the late afternoon, when the sun is beginning to a set on the horizon.
Conversely, Damakan and the surrounding area offers the most breathtaking sunrises, because of the local topography. Located about 10 km from the village of Huashitou. The panoramic vistas of this site are truly indescribable, and must be seen.
Qicaigou, means “Seven-Colour Slope” and is situated between Damakan and Huashitou. Depending on the season and time of day, the colours change their hue. It is a truly beautiful sight.
Roughly a kilometer from Qicaigou, Jinxiu Yuan is a vast expanse of rolling, colourful terrain. Also known as “Embroidery Garden”, this section has the largest concentration of red earth in the entirety of Dongchuan.
Located south of Huashitou, is the village of Yuepuao. Often called “Music Hallow”, this section offers panoramic views of colourful fields, the village, and wooded areas. The best time to visit Yuepuao is at dusk, when the sunset glows on the horizon.
Shuipingzi means “Moon Field”, and is sitauted ot the northeast of Huashitou. Driving into Dongchuan Red Earth, Shuipingz is the first site visitors will encounter. The red-hued earth stretches into the horizon. During the changing seasons, the rice fields change colour from lust green in spring, to bright golden in autumn.
- Because Dongchuan Red Earth is a mountainous area, the temperature fluctuates, often drastically between day and night. Visitors are advised to bring warm clothing.
- Likewise, because of the high elevation, the UV index is often very high, therefore sunblock, hats, and sunglasses are also recommended.
- The best times of the year to photograph Dongchuan Red Earth is May to early June, and late October through November.
- Because of the mountainous terrain, during the winter months some roads in Dongchuan may be blocked because of snow-cover.