Located in Zanda County, Ngari of Tibet, China, Zanda Clay Forest is the most famous geomorphic landscape in Zanda County. It is the most typical Clay forest formed by the weathering of tertiary strata with the largest distribution area in the world, with the total area of 2,464 square kilometers. Among them, the best-developed landform of Zanda Clay Forest is a large area centered on Toding town, with a distribution height of 3750-4450 meters above sea level and an area of about 888 square kilometers. It was listed as a National Geological Park in 2007.
The Clay forest is a special landform which is affected by orogeny in ancient times and the stratum deposited on the bottom of the lake is cut by running water for a long time and gradually eroded by weathering. The landform of Zanda Clay Forest, geologically called fluvial and lacustrine facies, originated from millions of years of geological changes. Experts research, more than a million years ago, the district between Zanda and Purang is a more than 500 kilometers of the great lake. Later, the Himalayan orogeny raised the lake basin, and the water level decreased, gradually grinding out the vivid "building" with various shape and height. Then through hundreds of thousands of years of wind and rain erosion, Zanda Clay Forest, a natural wonders, was born.
The Zanda Clay Forest is famous for its various and vivid shapes. Entering into Zanda, you will find that the Clayen forest standing on both sides of Elephant Spring River winding over more than five kilometers. Some look like majestic temples; Some look like solemn watchtowers; Some look like magnificent towering pagodas; Some look like the most luxurious ancient palaces or castle; Some look like animals, such as horses, lions, tigers, and so on. Walking in the Clay forest as if a walk in the ruins of an ancient kingdom, desolate but magnificent. The Guge Kingdom, with a history of several thousand years, once stand on this magical clay forest. The compound structure of Guge Kingdom was large as the Potala Palace. Now, many caves inhabited by people in the Guge Kingdom have been found in the Clay forests. To date, a large number of artworks and relics are still kept in the Guge Kingdom ruins, including many valuable murals.
Best Time to Visit
Generally speaking, spring and autumn are the best seasons to visit Zanda Clay Forest. And you'd better avoid the rainy season. Cars break down easily during the rainy season because the roads are slippery.
How to Get to Zanda Clay Forest
Nowadays, the journey to Zanda usually starts from Lion Spring River and covers 255 kilometers. It costs CNY 2000-3000 to charter a car for a round trip, which takes about 12 hours.
The accommodation is available both in Zanda County town and Tsaparang village. There are many kinds of meals, such as casseroles, Sichuan cooking, and hot pot. And the price is reasonable. Tourists usually spend the night in Zanda County. There are some hotels like Guge Hotel, Zanda Hotel, and guesthouses in Zanda County. A common bed at Hongda guesthouse costs about CNY 35 a night.
The Zanda Clay Forest is a paradise for photography lovers. The following positions will help you take amazing pictures.
- Zanda Clay Forest Observatory
This is one of the best location to shoot Zanda Clay Forest, which is 30km from Zanda County. You can film the afterglow here around 9 pm.
- Around Toding town
The clay forest around Toding town is very lush. And there are Red Tholing stupas and earthy stupas relics. .It is suitable for taking good photos at sunrise and sunset.
- Guge Kingdom ruins
It's 20 kilometers from Zanda County, 40 minutes by car. Standing in the clay forest, you can see the glory of the Guge Kingdom in the past. The golden time to film the Guge Kingdom ruins is around sunrise or sunset within half an hour.
Tips of Zanda Earth Forest
- Border Permit is required to visit Zanda Clay Forest.
- The admission fee of Zanda Clay Forest is CNY 80, the Guge Kingdom ruins is CNY 105.
- The wind is very strong in some places on a sunny day. You should protect yourself and your camera from wind and dust when you shoot.
Recommended Tour Itineraries Including Zanda Clay Forest
Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - EBC - Saga - Lake Manasarovar - Darchen - Mt Kailash Kora - Guge Kingdom - Ali - Gegye - Gertse - Shigatse - Lhasa
Lhasa - Tsetang - Nyingtri -Pomi - Nyingtri - Lhasa - Lake Namtso - Ali - Darchen - Mt.Kailash - Lake Manasarovar - Saga - EBC - Shigatse - Gyantse - Lhasa
This exciting tour covered most of the tourist attractions in Tibet. It’s a great chance to gain insights into the beautiful views, culture and Tibetan Buddhism of the holy land. As a long adventure on the high Plateau, this journey is for warriors who are strong-willed and fearless.