In order to be ready for the "China Olympics" total solar eclipse on Friday August 1st, 2008, a scouting trip in China and Mongolia was mandatory during the summer 2006. A recce in the Altai Republic, a Russian Federation autonomous region well known for its Altai Mountains and belonging to UNESCO World Heritage, has already taken place in August 2004. This new scouting trip in the Chinese Gobi along the "Silk Road" in the Xinjiang Uighur province and Western Mongolia had for main goal to get the best weather on all the eclipse path. The Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area was established in 1976 and was included in the World Network of Biosphere Reserves in 1990 as one of the largest biosphere reserves in the world (5.3 million hectares).
The city of Xi’an, the eternal city, records the great changes of the Chinese nation just like a living history book. Called Chang’an in ancient times, Xi’an is one of the birthplaces of the ancient civilization in the Yellow River Basin area. During Xi’an’s 3,100 year development, 13 dynasties such as Western Zhou (11th century BC - 771 BC), Qin (221 BC - 206 BC), Western Han (206 BC - 24 AD) and Tang (618 AD - 907 AD) placed their capitals here. Some of Xi’ian’s major attractions are the Wild Goose Pagoda and the Terracotta Warriors belonging to UNESCO’s World Heritage.
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