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Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon Tour
2004-10-27
The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is the only water channel from the Indian Ocean to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The Canyon, with its unique right-angle turn, provides many fantastic natural views.

The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is the highest green land on earth. Green mountains have snow-covered peaks poking through the clouds. Visitors come to see the area's mountain belts, unusual plants and animals, and mysterious cultures.

Trekking Itineraries

1. Grand Canyon Natural and Historical Wonder Tour

(I) Paixang-Doxong La-Baibung-Medog.

Highways are available from Paixang to Doxong La, and the trekking takes one day. On the northern mountain slope of Doxong La, there are many natural belts with different landscapes, and on the southern slope, where the altitude is lower, there are Chinese hemlocks, dragon spruces, small broadleaf trees, pines, and bamboos. In summer and in autumn, azaleas of different colors contend in beauty. At the mountain foot, there are dense primitive forests.

The entire route takes seven to ten days. Trekkers can take highways from Paixang to Hualinkou and then hire locals to help them cross the 4,200-meter-high Doxong La mountain pass. Trekkers should then go through Nage, Hanmi, and Wa'nyaiqo to the Liberation Bridge on the Yarlung Zangbo River, and then to Bibung and Medog. Trekking down from over 4,000 meters to 700 meters above sea level is like walking from a polar region to the equator. Besides the natural beauty, trekkers can also experience the unusual Monba and Lhoba cultures.

(2) Paixang-Datogka-Yidian-Gega-Zhihai.

There are rough highways on this route for trekking. The entrance to the canyon is near an old castle in Datogka, which is also the first scenic spot along this route of the Grand Canyon. From here, visitors can see the middle and lower reaches of the canyon joining with each other, and looking to the east and north, they can view the Namjagbarwa and Gyarabairi Mountains. Going downstream from Datogka to Yidian, there are two Tibetan farming villages with colorful azaleas blossoming on the magnificent snow-covered Namjagbarwa Mountain slopes. Here one can get a bird's-eye view of the entrance to the Grand Canyon and take pictures of the breath-taking Namjagbarwa Mountain. Further downstream, where the mountain valley turns at a right angle, sits Gega Village. Gega residents are often eager to share their moving stories and fairy tales with visitors. Earthquakes have resulted in unique glacier formations and the surfacing of ancient relics in Zhibai, located at the foot of the mountain.

The final destination of this route is Gyala Village. Beyond the village lies a depopulated area. This route is an exploration itinerary. Its purpose is to help visitors appreciate the unique natural views of the Grand Canyon

(3) From Pelung County, inhabited by the Monba people, then downstream along the Parlung Zangbo River to Zhaqu.

The entire route is about 30 kilometers long and can be toured only by trekking. There are six chain bridges on this route and many steep cliffs. The trekking takes two days and at the end of the trip, one will have to climb 400 meters to get to Zhaqu, located in the Grand Canyon's central region. In Zhaqu, visitors can view the U-shaped turn of the Yarlung Zangbo River and the right angle turn in the lower stream of the Parlung Zangbo River. To the west, visitors can see the Gyarabairi and Namjagbarwa Mountains. Four waterfalls have been recently discovered along the 20-kilometer river section from Xixing La to the mouth of the Parlung Zangbo River. Waterfall tours are still being developed. Tours into these places have to be led by local people and usually take four days.


2. Southern Tibetan Tour of the Parlung Zangbo River

The Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon is the only water channel from the Indian Ocean to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. The portion of the canyon in southeastern Tibet is usually cloudy and foggy. Mountain tops are capped with snow, and mountain slopes are covered with dense green broad-leaf forests. At the foot of the mountains are farm fields, small villages and temples. In spring, the fragrance of peach blossoms fill the air and the golden rape flower blankets the fields. In autumn, the maple leaves turn red and decorate the mountain like a red quilt. The Sichuan-Tibet Highway is conveniently available for trekking in southern Tibet.

(1)Ra'og Lakeis a mountain lake 4,200 meters above sea level. Fed by melted glacier water the lake is remarkably clear and beautiful.

(2) Midoi Glacier

The glacier can be reached from the Sichuan-Tibet Highway after another one or two days of trekking. It is a typical monsoon-temperate glacier with a large ice basin and an icy 700 to 800 meter-wide waterfall. The area may one day be built into a glacier park.

(3) Garlung Glacier

Garlung can be reached by walking 30 kilometers south of Zhamog County in the Borne region. There are highways on the route, and it takes only one day to go back and forth. At the glacier, visitors can see the U-shaped valley and forests in the snowland. Two monsoon type maritime glaciers from different directions meet at the Garlung Temple. Under the Garlung Temple, there is a vast green summer pasture dotted with local herdsmen's cabins. In front of the temple, there are nine white pagodas. Pilgrims come to burn incense and pray for good luck. In the beautiful environment, people feel in harmony with nature.

(4) Bodi Zangbo Glacier Remains

The Qundo-Xumo-Yuri region is at the bottom of the U-shaped glacier mountain valley. The area boasts many glacier accumulations and relics and presents many rare natural views. There are simply constructed roads on the route, and travel takes one day back and forth.

(5) Natural Barrier Feature Tour

Glacier mud tiow relics in Guxang and Pelung are located along this route.

(6) Yi'ong Lake

After walking upstream from Maitong Bridge along Yi'ong Gongbu for 21 kilometers on the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, tourists will arrive at the Yi'ong Farm on the bank of Yi'ong Lake about 2,100 meters above sea level. Yi'ong Lake is in a mountain valley fed by melted glacier water and is located at the mouth of the Grand Canyon water channel. On the northern bank of the lake is the Nyainqentanglha snow mountain. Clouds flow over the lake, adding to the beauty of the scenery. Birds fly across and horses and oxen trot along the beach. There are orchards and tea gardens, and on the mountain slopes, there are pine and China fir forests. Occasionally, one can see monkeys climb up the trees to collect fruits. The best tea in Tibet is produced here and is well known in China.


3. Nyang River Scenic Area from Gongbo'gyamda to Nyingchi

Bright sunshine and heavy rains characterize the Nyang River region. Dense forests of the Gongbo'gyamda, Bayi, and Nyingchi counties grow on both sides of the river. The Sichuan-Tibet Highway runs through the region. In the highlands, there are many beautiful glacier lakes.

(1) Basumco Mountain Lake

Basumco Mountain Lake, 3,500 meters above sea level, originates from the Nyainqentanglha Mountain and is a dozen kilometers long. Snow-covered mountains, glaciers and trees are reflected upon the lake's rippled surface. There are small islands in the middle of the Take with Lamaist temples built upon them. Basumco Lake has been opened as the first holiday resort village in Tibet. Rough highways lead to the area where there are good accommodation services.

(2) The Big Cypress Protection Region in Pagqi

Between Bayi and Nyingchi towns, there is a large cypress forest. The cypress trees are considered saint plants by the local people. The oldest cypress is 2,500 years old and is of great importance to the research of ecological development.

(3) The Lama Mountain Temple

The temple is situated on the right bank of the Nying Lake, 30 kilometers away from Bayi Town. It is a good place to learn about the Lhoba custom of genitalia worship.

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