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Yalong River Trek
Uploaded on 2005-10-02 12:14:11
Topic: Trekking

Travel Information for Jiulong in Sichuan - Part two: Yalong River Gorge Trek

Yalong River Gorge (雅砻江峡谷)

There are easy ways and hard ways to see the mighty Yalong river gorge. The easy way is to simply catch the bus south, on towards the lowland Sichuan towns of Mianning and Xichang (where you can connect with the Kunming-Chengdu train line, or take a bus to Lugu Lake or Lijiang). On the way south, before passing over the high pass to Mianning, the road skirts the swirling brown waters of the Yalong for about 20km.  Here the gorge is scenic but not as spectacular as the remote western section where the river carves a massive 3000-5000 metre canyon through the mountains on its north to south flow. This is the area that Rock described as a scenic wonder of the world. It can only be reached by 4WD vehicle followed by some arduous horse riding.

If you have bags of time and money here’s how to do it:

Access to the Yalong canyon is via the Yangwe Kong valley, that branches westward from the road between Jiulong and Wuxu Lake. There is an extremely rough track that crosses over the 4000 m high Kangwu Shan pass into the valley, and which runs down to the village of Sanyanlong
(三岩龙). All the people in this valley are Pumi, similar to Tibetan, but speaking a different dialect. You need to hire a good 4WD and an experienced driver to do this section (see contact details later). Ordinary cars have no chance, and will not take you.

From Sanyanlong, continue west for about 7km, to the road end at the hamlet of Shantien. From here you can arrange horses (100 kuai a day each, including guide) to take you up to the heights overlooking the Yalong canyon, where there is a small hamlet called Mongdong. You don’t need a tent or bedding if you stay with the friendly locals, but the only food if you don’t eat tsampa, butter tea and ripe cheese is baked potatoes. The trip involves a steep climb over razor back ridges, followed by a very long ride up a ridge.

From Mongdong, the views down to the Yalong, 3000-4000 m below are awesome, as are the views of the surrounding mountains of Muli county, across the river. According to Rock it took him “five terrible days” to cross the Yalong river en route from Muli to Jiulong and Kangding, even though it was only 20km as the crow flies. The steep sides mean that it is very difficult going.

Nearby (another half day by horse) to Mongdong is the beautiful mountain of Maidi Gangga (Mutikonka according to Rock) with a spectacularly beautiful alpine lake beneath it, called Chang Haizi. Apart from Rock (and me) no westerners or even Chinese have ever visited this area. If you just want to visit the lake you can get there in a day from Shantian via a lower village called Lawaling, though you still have to make the initial steep climb out of the Yangwe Kong valley.

All arrangements for these trips can be made with a Mr Gao Linzhong, of the information department of Jiulong county. His contact details are: 0836 3322787/ 139904785029 (mobile). Or you can find him on the fifth floor of the local government (that’s Communist Party) building, right behind the Jiaoyu Binguan. It’s easy to find - the only building in town with Christmas fairly lights on.

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Contributed by Michael Woodhead from Australia on 31.10.2004.
Visit his website: In the footsteps of Joseph Rock

(moved from in 2008)

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