Located along the river of Langqên Zangbo, Zanda County in Ngari, the Zanda Earth Forest has been viewed as the most typical and largest tertiary strata earth forest in the world, with the total area of 2,464 sq km. Zanda Earth Forest was classified as National Geological Park in 2007.
Zanda, which means “the place where there are grass in the lower reaches of river” in Tibetan, is a county in the Ngari Prefecture to the extreme south west of the Tibet Autonomous Region. Entering into Zanda County, you will find the earth forest standing on both sides of Langqên Zangbo River (also called Elephant Spring River) and winding over more than five kilometers, with the elevation ranging from 3,750 meters to 4,450 meters.
The earth forest is called in Geology “the Level Terrane Physiognomy”, which is formed by erosion of water. It is the sediment stratum of lakes and rivers, mainly composed by sandstone and clay. Because the Level Terrane is easy to develop its upright quality and the sandstone like flour is qualified with uprightness. The valley is deep, even a canaliculus can reach 100 to 200 meters. The orogenic movement of the Himalaya has made the bottom of the lake ascend. And the undulating earth forest of dozens of kilometers was formed by the flushing of water subsidence and long years of weathering.
The Zanda Earth Forest is famous for different shapes. Some look like the warriors defending the mountain top; some like thousands of horses galloping; some like devout followers of a religion cultivating themselves, standing there quietly; some look like castles; some like watchtowers; and some shape as pagodas. From different view, you can get different wonderful scenery. Walking in the earth forest as if a walk in the ruins of an ancient kingdom, desolate but magnificent.
This peculiar and mystic physiognomy densely covers the whole Zanda County. In the county stand the famous Tuolin Monastery and relic Guge Kingdom. During the Guge Kingdom, people used this kind of natural resource to make caves to live. Now, more than 400 caves made by Tibetan forebears are found in the clay forest, which forms the old building group.
How to get there:
It takes a dozen hours from Lion Spring River (Shiquanhe) to the earth forest and the trip covers 255 kilometers. You can hire a car to go and back for three or four days. The earth forest is close to the Zanda county seat. It can be reached on foot from the county seat.