The Red Earth Terraces of Dongchuan

Some 250 kilometers northeast of Kunming, the capital of China's Yunnan Province, lies Dongchuan, a rural area with the world's most imposing red earth. Spread over vast terraced fields, Dongchuan’s unusual brownish-red color comes from its rich deposit of iron and copper. Exposed to the warm and humid climate of Yunnan, the iron in the soil undergoes oxidization to form iron oxide which is naturally red in color. These oxides, deposited through many years, gradually developed into the extraordinary reddish brown soil seen here today. Every year during spring, when this area is ploughed for agriculture, a large number of visitors and photographers come to see squares of freshly upturned red earth waiting to be sown along with areas of budding green plants. The fiery red soil juxtaposed with emerald green barley, and golden yellow buckwheat, against a blue sky produces one of the richest color palate rarely seen in nature.

Reportedly, the existence of Dongchuan was unknown to the outside world until the mid-1990s, when a Chinese photographer chanced upon the place. The story goes that the photographer kept the location a secret and continued to produce photographs that awed his audience. Details about the secret place eventually leaked and now more and more photographers are making arduous trip into the mountains to get first-hand experience of this amazing place.