The Nalati Grasslands are situated in Xinyuan county, Ili Kazak autonomous prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. They are the sub-alpine meadows formed on the tertiary ancient diluvium. Praised as high-quality pastures since the ancient times, they are home to a rich amount of subalpine meadow plants, of which the mesophytic weeds and dogstails can grow to 50 or 60 centimeters, and account for a coverage rate ranging from 75% to 90%. Other associated plants include irises, sedge, wheat grass, strawberries and thyme.
The Nalati Grasslands are known as the most populated ethnic Kazak habitat in China. It boasts rich tourism resources with its picturesque scenery and colorful folk culture, consisting of 73 natural and 25 cultural landscapes.
There is an intriguing legend about the origin of the name of the grasslands. During Genghis Khan's westward expedition, a Mongolian troupe marched from the deep Tianshan Mountains to Ili in a single spring day, but the cold weather and hunger left the soldiers exhausted. They climbed across the mountains and, to their great surprise, a gorgeous meadow full of blooming flowers and flowing water lay before them. Suddenly, the clouds fragmented and out came the sun. The soldiers all joyfully shouted “Nalati! (which means ‘place where the sun is’ in Mongolian)”. Hence the grasslands was named.
Best times to visit: April to October
Major attractions: The Tianyun Terrace, the ruins of the ancient Wusun Kingdom, the Lama Mountains, the Forest Park