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CBP 2005: Explore Chinese Countryside - Discover Hidden Treasures

Nujiang Gorge , Northwest Yunnan

Nujiang is one of the rivers within the Three River Natural Reserve (A world heritage site). It flows into Myanmar and joins the Salween River. The Nujiang Gorge from northwest Yunnan to Tibet lies in a narrow strip of land bordering Myanmar, sandwiched on the west by Gaoligong Mountain range and the Biluo Mountain range on the east . One can witness dramatic changes of ecosystem. Monsoon and subtropical forests in the south region are gradually replaced by shurblands and dry warm valleys in the north.

The region is inhabited mainly by the Bais, Lisus, Nus and Tibetans. The Hans are prominent in the towns.

Things to See:

The principal towns in the Nujiang Gorge include Liuku, Fugong, and Gongshan. The most beautiful part of the gorge starts from Bingzhongluo. Map: Nujiang Region

Liuku: an unpleasant town with ugly concrete buildings can definitely be ignored.

Fugong: 123km north of Liuku.
Fugong is mainly populated by the Lisu tribe. There are rice terraces just outside the town centre on the slopes all along the river. They are easily accessible by walking and the walk up the rice terraces is easy. All along the trek up the slopes, we watched the local Lisu farmers busying themselves on the terraces and the view extended to the Gaoligong Mountains with snow crowned peaks soaring over 4000 meters.
Places to stay: There is ample accommodation in town as this region seems to be developing fast with better transport. Most of the accommodation options are close to the bus station near the town centre. Bus Station Hotel 车站宾馆 has clean doubles for Y50 with bathroom and hot shower. We stayed at Dianli Hotel 电力宾馆 the most luxury hotel in town and paid Y80 for a nice double.

Attractions: Waterfalls, River Bends, Crossing river - Rope Bridges
Stone Moon, in Fugong. Link: Hiking Report - A Day on Stone Moon Mountain

Gongshan:
Another major town in this region, even though it is just a one-street-town. It is an important town because it is the closest supply depot for hardware and other requirements to all the towns and villages north and east (to Drung territory) of here. As in Fugong, there are more than enough accommodation options in this town such as the Bus Station Hotel and Gongshan Hotel 贡山宾馆. Sandan Jiudian 山丹酒店 has dormitory rooms (Y15/per bed), their doubles with bathroom are Y60.

The scenery between Fugong and Gongshan is fabulous with lots of steep slopes and waterfalls. The road hugs the Nujiang and there are lots of landslides along the way. Be prepared to be delayed. One also needs to have a strong heart as vehicles frequently miss the cliff by inches. It is especially spectacular after rain; which also means higher potential of delays and landslide dangers. There are Lisu and Nu farms clinging to impossible places on the steep slopes hundreds of meters up from both sides of the river. Their fields are often partially or completely destroyed by landslides. They can do nothing but re-cultivate again and again.

Around Bingzhongluo
The most beautiful part of Nujiang Gorge starts from Bingzhongluo.
Bingzhongluo, Qiunatong , Chala, Shuangla, Drung Village
Map: Around Bingzhongluo

 

Getting there and away:

The only access to the Gorge by road is from south via Liuku. Bingzhongluo, the northernmost town of the Gorge in Yunnan, lies only 100 km west of Deqin, the last town on the Yunnan-Tibet highway. There is no direct motor road connecting Bingzhongluo region to Deqin. From both places, travelers can follow a local guide and cross the high Biluo Mountain Pass over 4000 meters to another place.

Kuming -> Fugong
From Kunming, one can catch a bus to various places in the Nujiang Gorge. There is usually at least one bus (normally sleeper) that goes all the way to Fugong in the middle of the gorge. The trip is about 14 hours and costs around Y153.

Warning: It was reported that some sleeper buses without license stopped in the middle of journey and forced the passengers to pay extra amounts.

Tips: Take the Liuku or Fugong bus either at West Bus Station 西站客运站 or Xiyuan Bus Station 西苑客运站 in Kunming. Sleeper buses with license at these two bus stations always have destinations printed on the top of their front screen: 昆明–福贡 (Kunming – Fugong).

Fugong -> Kunming
Fugong has two sleeper buses leaving for Kunming every day, departure scheduled at 13:00 and 15:30, but both bueses actually quit Fugong around 17:00. One bus is scheduled to leave for Dali at 15:30.

Some Chinese travelers managed to get 20 to 30 percent discount after negotiating the price directly with the driver rather than buying the ticket from the ticket office during the low season.

Fugong -> Gongshan
From Fugong, there are regular buses and vans to Gongshan, the next major town north. Most of them are in the morning around 9am. In addition, the Liuku-Gongshan bus passes Fugong around 11am every morning; just wait outside the bus station for them. Ride to Gongshan is about 2 ½ hours costing 20Y.

Gongshan - Bingzhongluo
Transport to the north of here consists mainly of vans that run when they are reasonably full. However there are enough people who make the trip north to ensure that this is regular. The ride cost around Y10 following the Nujiang again.

Gongshan -> Fugong
Buses leave Gongshan for Fugong and Liuku in the morning. Latest buses are scheduled at 11:50 and 13:00. It is reported that the 13:00 bus is often suspended.

Useful links:

  • Three River Natural Reserve on www.unep-wcmc.org
    Vegetation: "Monsoon forest occurs in lower reaches of Dulong and Nujiang Rivers. Middle subtropical humid evergreen broadleaved forests are found on the mid-slopes of Gaoligong Mountain and Biluo Snow Mountain. Alpine meadows predominate above the tree line (3,500-4,000m) in Gaoligong, Nushan and Yunling Mountains these are interspersed by Alpine Shrublands (4,000-4,500m) which are predominated by many rhododendron species."
  • Nujiang on www.cbik.org
  • Nujiang River region enthralls travellers on www.chinadaily.com.cn
    "The Nujiang River has never been a popular tourism destination. From its headwaters on the southern slope of Tanggula Mountain on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the Nujiang River runs through one of China's most remote areas, where it has carved canyons through the rugged mountain ranges east of the Himalayas. The Nujiang River is one of the two rivers in the country that have never been dammed. According to development plans for the river, however, some dams are scheduled to be built for power generation."
  • The NuJiang River Project on www.river.com
  • WINDS OF CHANGE IN THE NU JIANG on www.alphalink.com.au
  • Let the Salween Flow on www.shanland.org
  • Rafting Expedition: "Phrases like "gigantic waves" and "bottomless holes" do NOT do justice to the Angry River (Nujiang) and its demonic forces.".. more on www.river.com.
  • Maps: Location of Minorities & Alphalink Map.

Written by CBP in July 2005


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