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Natural Attractions / Trip Ideas

Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, a new UNESCO natural heritage

By Weiwei Guan

July 12

Hoh Xil, also Kekexili, is a place as romantic as its name suggests – “a beautiful girl” in Mongolian.

Hoh Xil, also Kekexili, is a place as romantic as its name suggests – “a beautiful girl” in Mongolian.

Hoh Xil, also Kekexili, is a place as romantic as its name suggests – “a beautiful girl” in Mongolian.

Located in northwest China’s Qinghai Province, Hoh Xil grows more popular following its new addition as a UNESCO natural heritage site on July 7, becoming China’s 51st world heritage site. Blessed with geographical conditions and unique biodiversity, the place was inscribed as China’s national nature reserve as early as 1997.

Tibetan antelope in Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve, which was inscribed as a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site. [Image Credit: VCG]
Harsh weather and natural conditions make it uninhabitable for humans, but an absolute haven to the 230 kinds of plateau wild animals, especially the endangered Tibetan antelope and about 210 plants species, 72 of which are unique to the Tibetan Plateau. Thus, it is regarded as one of the best preserved ecological environment in the world.

Alpine lake in the Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve. [Image Credit: VCG]
Hoh Xil has Qinghai’s highest peak, Xinqing Peak, which rises 6,860 meters. As the interjection of the inland lake of Qiangtang Plateau and north water division of the Yangtze River, Hoh Xil has many glaciers covering 2,000 square meters. However, the glacial retreat has been worldwide and rapid; Hoh Xil cannot escape the effects. Li Shijie, a glaciologist who was there in the 1990s, found that Gangjiaquba Glacier at the foot of Tanggula Mountains has retreated 500 meters during the past two decades.

Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve in Qinghai Province. [Image Credit: VCG]
Miles from the foot of Xinqing Peak, scientific expeditions once found a few hot springs that measured approximately 91 ℃. There are thousands of lakes in Hoh Xil, with Wulanwula Lake being the largest one in that area stretching 544.5 square meters.

Qarhan Salt Lake is a must-see spot, being China’s largest salt lake. Before you enter, the Salt Lake Museum will show you everything about the history and exploration of the salt lake.

A train is traveling through the Hoh Xil National Nature Reserve in Qinghai Province. [Image Credit: VCG]
Among all sites on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Hoh Xil has the highest altitude, over 4,500 meters. But this doesn’t stop people from exploring it.

It’s best to prepare yourself for an adventure to Hoh Xil from July to September. Waterproof and windproof jackets will be your best choice.

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