Cycle-touring in Yunnan and Sichuan, China

June-August 2006

River Notes

See also: photos, trip report, travel tips, equipment list, route map

I want to go back and paddle! I made some notes for when I do:

NW Yunnan (area north of Xiaguan): hardly saw anything worth paddling. The Yangtze tribs upstream of Shigu are very steep and fairly low volume and in the process of being dammed, or are flat/low volume. The Yangtze (Jinsha Jiang up here) is easy (I-II) above Tiger Leaping Gorge, TLG doesn’t really go, TLG has altitude about 1650m, near Lijiang it is about 1450m, so maybe worth paddling between here (it’s a big volume wilderness trip at least). There’s possibly a dam site below TLG?? Didn’t see Mekong (Lancang Jiang) or Salween (Nu Jiang)


Loads of great rivers but most/all have/will have dams on them. Lots had run-of-river power stations but levels were quite high in July (monsoon+some snowmelt) so there was still water in the rivers. This is prob the time to go.


Saw signs to a rafting centre near here?!

Anning He has some grade III and small dams on it. 50 cumecs?

Some grade III and IV and lots of dams just S of Ya’an, not worth paddling?

Along the Ya’an-Kanding road: First river you drive up has loads of dams!! and killer weirs and maybe some grade III through a small gorge. 200 cumecs. They you drive up a trib, maybe 50 cumecs. 2? dams higher up but plenty of water left in the river. III/IV (V), really continuous, gorged up in places. Low vol (10 cumecs) towards the tunnel. The Dadu trib from Kanding is incredibly steep – about 40 cumecs (20 between dams) and 40m/km. It is dammed regularly but plenty enough water between the dams. Grade V all the way! Both forks at Kanding look interesting; through town is a rollercoaster grade IV.

Dadu: 200 cumecs, Grade IV (V) Luding-Kongyu, easy above. Dam sites at Kongyu and above Jiangju. A few interesting looking creeky tribs.

Xiaojin: Some nice grade IV/V near Danba, easy+2 dams at+above Xiaojin town. 50 cumecs.

Min Jiang trib above Wolong: 20 cumecs grade III/IV, no dams!! Below: Lots of dams but would be interesting (grade IV gorges) with a bit more water

There’s a really high density of rivers around Kanding and loads I didn’t see, including lots flowing well away from roads that possibly don’t have dams on. Hitching+communication is hard—you’d need a driver.

Tiger Leaping Gorge doesn't really go (about 2000 cumecs)

Yangtze trib doesn't really go (also being dammed)

Other Yangtze tribs were more like this (near Qizong)

Dadu trib from Kanding is like this all the way

Dadu near Danba

Landslide on the Xiaojin river

Dadu He
Harder rapids on Dadu near Jiangju

See also: photos, trip report, travel tips, equipment list, route map