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Location:Korla, Xinjiang

Bayanbulak Grassland

Bayanbulak, a vast highland prairie about 270 kilometers (167 miles) northwest of Korla, is home to the descendents of Mongols who returned here from Russia one hundred years ago. The natural splendor of the area testifies to the accuracy of its Mongolian name which means “Rich Fountains”. Bayanbulak’s considerable water supply supports the luxurious grasslands, numerous varieties of multihued flowers, and hundreds of thousands of cattle and sheep. You get a glimpse of the beauty of the area in the adjacent picture which also shows a yurt, the circular domed tent used by Mongolian nomads. Bayanbulak Grassland is the second largest grassland in China encompassing an area of 23 thousand sq km.

Bayanbulak Lake has the distinction of having the only nature reserve for swans in China and one of the largest swan reserves in the world. Here, thousands of swans from many different species live, play, and breed providing a uniquely wonderful opportunity to observe large flocks of graceful swans. This habitat area has a lake named Swan Lake. It is comprised of hundreds of small connected ponds that are fed by springs and streams and covers about 300 square kilometers (115 square miles). Swan Lake with its sparkling water, reedy marshes, and adjacent grasslands make it a perfect haven for swans and a visual delight for all people. Against the backdrop of the lake, its marshes, and the rich surrounding grasslands, visitors can observe the spectacle of thousands of swans flying across. Nowhere else you can have this breathtaking experience of seeing the sky fill with a cloud of swans. Engaging a local guide who can help you navigate the sometimes tricky marshes and share interesting stories of the area, it will add greatly to your enjoyment of Swan Lake. Swan watching is at its height in May and June. You might consider your trip to coincide with Nadam Fair.

Nadam Fair is an annual grand Mongolian event that will be held at Bayanbulak from the fourth to the sixth of June. (Its date varies somewhat each year as the time of the Fair is based on the lunar calendar.) Nadam Fair attendees are entertained with horseracing, wrestling, dancing, and singing, as well as having the chance to see and purchase local foods, crafts, and other commercial wares that are specialties of this area.