The mini-city of ZHONGWEI (中卫, zhōngwèi) lies right alongside one of the Yellow River’s most curious stretches – just west of town, the waterway can be seen roaring past an expanse of sand dunes, providing a rare opportunity to see a river of such size in desert terrain. The river essentially moulded the Zhongwei of today – historically, the old walled city was said to have had no north gate – simply because there was nothing more to the north of here. It remains in a potentially awkward location, between the fickle Yellow River to the south and the sandy Tenger Desert to the north, but today Zhongwei is surrounded by a rich belt of irrigated fields, and the desert is kept at bay through reforestation projects. The river outside the town, at Shapotou, is a splendid sight and should definitely be visited if you are in the area.
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