Dongchuan’s red earth terraces

Terrasses de terres rouges et ocres de Dongchuan en chine

A rainbow of ochre colors in China

Some 250 kilometers northeast of Kunming, the capital of China’s Yunnan province, lies Dongchuan, a rural region with the world’s most imposing red soil. Spread over vast terraced fields, Dongchuan’s unusual reddish-brown color comes from its rich deposits of iron and copper. Exposed to Yunnan’s hot, humid climate, iron undergoes oxidation in the soil to form iron oxide, which is naturally red in color. These oxides, deposited over many years, gradually evolved into the extraordinary reddish-brown soil we see today. Every spring, when the region’s land is ploughed for agriculture, many visitors and photographers flock here to admire the freshly-turned plots of red earth waiting to be sown. The surrounding green colors offer a superb panorama.

Blazing red soil juxtaposed with emerald-green barley and golden-yellow buckwheat, under a blue sky produces one of the richest color palettes rarely seen in nature.

Terrasses de terres rouges et ocres de Dongchuan en chine

Dongchuan’s existence was reportedly unknown to the outside world until the mid-1990s, when a Chinese photographer stumbled upon the place. The story goes that the photographer kept the place secret and continued to publish photographs that impressed his audience. Details of the secret location were eventually revealed, and now more and more photographers are making the arduous journey into the mountains to enjoy the experience of this amazing place.

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Photo credits: Amusing Planet