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There are some places on earth that are so stunningly beautiful it’s hard to believe they really exist, especially when you’re just looking at photos of them. China’s “rainbow mountains” are one such example that needs to be seen to be believed.

These aren’t watercolour paintings or photoshopped images. You’re looking at a real mountain range in the Zhangye Danxia National Geological Park which covers around 155,000 square miles in the north of the Qilian Mountains. This particular type of landform is called a Danxia, and is characterised by steep cliffs of red sandstone that have been shaped by uplifts, weathering, and erosion. The different colours in the rock here have been formed by layers of different kinds of rock piling up over millions of years.

The beauty of these towering multicoloured cliffs can have an almost hallucinatory effect on the eye, appearing from some angles to contort into strange alien cityscapes. The colour also lends them a certain softness, as thought you’re looking out at a giant landscape of fluffy layer cake, which is a trick of the eye since this is all solid rock formed around 200 million years ago.

The area has only started being discovered by tourists recently, after being voted one of the most beautiful landforms in all of China. Gansu Province is relatively underpopulated and has been hard to access since it’s completely landlocked, but walkways and roads have been built in the park so that people can explore the mountainous area and visitors are starting to flock to see the stunning scene with their own eyes.

While the exposure may have been upped in some of those photographs, given the right light these rocks can practically glow in a multitude of rainbow hues.

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You can check out more photos of the Zhangye Danxia and other sights around Gansu province at photographer Melinda Chan’s Flickr album, or chill out with this slide show set to relaxing music in the video below.

This is yet one more place that’s definitely getting added to my ever-growing list of places to see before I die!

Source: Vision Times
Images: Sohu