Shapotou-Symphony of nature
Shapotou lies on the southern edge of Tengger Desert, 20 kilometers to the west of Zhongwei County on the northern shore of the Yellow River. There, the vast world of golden sand, surging and ebbing as it extends all the way form the north, comes to an abrupt stop by the river and at the foot of the Xiangshan Mountain and forms a giant sand slope 2000 meters wide and 200 meters high with a tilt of 60 degrees. Hence the name Shapotou, meaning Head of the Sand Slope. On fine day, whenever someone slides down the slope, it emits a humming sound that resembles the tolling of a gold bell. Extolled as Bell Tolls at a Sand Slope, Shapotou is one of the four major humming sand dunes in China. Looking up at the slope like angels from heaven, the fascination of humming sand invariably tossing the din and traffic of the mundane world to the remotest corner of their minds.
With the nature scenery mingling with a culture heritage and accomplishments in taming the desert, Shapotou is extolled as World Capital of Sand and One and Only Tourist Attraction in the World. The United Nation has cited it as one of the globe’s 500 pacesetters in environmental protection. In 1994, the State Council designated the place as a national desert ecosystem nature reserve. The China National Tourism Administration included it in the country’s first group of AAAA-class scenic resorts.
Scenery of Shapotou gives apt expression to the celebrated line: in the great desert one straight plume of smoke rises, by the long river the setting sun resembles a ball of flame. Local authorities have promoted traditional and modem recreational programs to lure the participation of visitors. Listening to the humming sand and marveling at the spring gurgling tides of the foot of the slope prove to be a most relaxing experience. Rafting the surging tides of the Yellow River has long been a local obsession that is risky in a harmless way. A ride on the cableway across the Yellow River is enough of a challenge for daredevils. Ancient wooden junks, pulled in unison by trackers naked to the waist, are reminiscent of the region’s exotic old days. Sand sculpture, sand therapy, sand bathing, and desert ball game these activities are guaranteed to provide precious learning and keeping-fit opportunities. Camping in the heart of the great desert to marble at stars and moon and feel the charms of a moonlit night in the wilderness, dining and wining and marking merry by a bonfire never fail to bring the visitor back to the bosom of Mother Nature.
Shapotou, indeed, is Chinese mecca for desert adventurists, and ideal destination for those running an adrenaline high to challenge the foamy Yellow River.