Located in eastern Xinyuan county in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, the Nalati grassland retains much of its natural and ethnic beauty. “Narat” in Monglian literally means “The place where sunshine first appears”. It is the sub-alpine meadow of the Gongnaisi Grassland that is one of the four largest grasslands of the world. It sits in the hinterland of Tianshan Mountain on the east end of Yili Valley, and owing to its high altitude and steep terrain, it is also called ‘The Sky Grassland’.
Narat Grassland is about 180km long from east to west along the river bed sandwiched by the mountains of Tianshan in three sides, the east section of Ili valley. The famous Ili River zigzags through Ili Valley. There is a scenic area in Nalri grassland too. Nalati scenic area covers 400 sq km of the country's second largest grassland. The grassland has quiet streams, fresh air and abundant vegetation. It's home to a 10th of China's Kazakh community, and its rolling hills are dotted with their camps.
There is a beautiful story about the grassland. During the last years of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279), Genghis Khan made a west expedition to Ili in midsummer. However, it was very cold in the mountains, further exhausting the already hungry soldiers. To their surprise, after crossing a mountain, they saw a boundless stretch of grassland. Dainty flowers were in full bloom and clear streams murmured over the lush green grass. It looked like a marvelous wonderland, so soldiers shouted happily ‘Nalati, Natati’.
The most beautiful gully in Nalati Grassland – Snow-capped peaks, Alpine trees, Alpine meadow and uplands. Since ancient times, the grassland has been a famous pasture in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.
The beautiful scenery here is beyond description. If the boundless grassland is a green sea then the white yurts are sails; herds of sheep, cows and horses are waves; continuous mountains are a coast; upright cedars on cliffs are heroic guards.
As for the best time to visit, it will be preferred to travel there from June to September, since the vast expanse of lush grassland is dotted with colorful wild flowers then. The surrounding snow mountains, white clouds, blue sky make this grassland more charming. Thus, this period is the best time to visit this wonderland. Many activities are held in this ‘Cradle of Kazaks’. The hospitable Kazak herdsmen receive guests with their particular custom and culture. However, food offered in the scenic spots is mainly Kazakh and less diverse. So if you think it is necessary, take some breads in your backpack in case the food serviced there will not meet your flavor pursuit.
Besides, ethnic group in Nalati Grassland is Kazakhs who raise their herds in the grassland, Yurts put up where people made it their home. It is one of the best places to see and experience the local Kazakh lifestyle.
When you get lost in dusty city, try to visit some places that can take you far away from the annoying things, Nalati is exactly one of the ideal destinations with its pure sky and green wild grassland.