The Gānjiā Grasslands, 34km from Xiàhé, aren’t as pretty as those at nearby Sāngkē, but there is more to explore. From Xiàhé a bumpy road crosses the Naren-Ka pass (impassable after long rains) before quickly descending into wide grasslands dotted with herds of sheep and backed by ever-more dramatic mountain scenery.
Past Gānjiā Xiàn village, a side road climbs 12km to Nekhang, a cave complex where pilgrims lower themselves down ropes and ladders into two sacred underground chambers. A Dutch traveller fell to his death here in 2006, and to prevent the same fate we advise avoiding this place.
Just up the road from the caves is Trakkar Gompa, a monastery of 90 monks set against a stunning backdrop of vertical rock formations. From Trakkar it’s a short drive to the 2000-year-old Han dynasty village of Bājiǎo. The remarkable 12-sided walls here still shelter a small living community. From the village it’s a short 5km diversion to the renovated Tseway Gompa, one of the few Bön monasteries in Gānsù. Make sure you circumnavigate any holy site counterclockwise in the Bön fashion. There are great views of Bājiǎo from the ridge behind the monastery.
A four- to five-hour return trip to the Gānjiā Grasslands costs around ¥180 for a taxi from Xiàhé. An English-speaking driver and guide costs ¥450 for the full return trip and can be arranged at Snowy Mountain Cafe.