Origins of the Yangtze: Trekking the Jinsha River Valley

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5 Days
Spring, Fall
Lijiang
Lijiang
About this Journey

Lace up your hiking boots and prepare for a trek through the remote mountain trails north of Lijiang. Enter a world of forgotten historical intrigue where bucolic villages perch, resplendent, above the adolescent Yangtze.

The mighty peaks and fabled passes of this distant valley once protected an ancient kingdom from Mongol invasion, and today harbor an array of minority cultures diffused across a landscape as beguiling as any on Earth.

What we love
  • Meeting a local Dongba heritage master to learn more about local history and customs of the remote Wumu Village
  • Crossing Taizi Pass, where Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis, famously crossed in the 13th century
  • Soaring over the turquoise waters of the Jinsha River on 1-hour boat ride
Map
Yunnan province map
Itinerary

Day 1Lijiang (2,410m) to Wumu Village (2,160m)

First Stop: Lijiang, Yunnan Province

Today is the day, the start of your WildChina adventure. Step off the plane/train station in Lijiang and meet your local WildChina guide in the airport arrivals hall/exit of the train station. They’ll be waiting to welcome you.

Arrival in Lijiang

The city of Lijiang lies in the shadow of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and has entranced visitors for centuries with its singular architecture, quaint bridges, and narrow canals. Although Lijiang has transformed from its quaint roots into a tourist hub, there are still quieter side lanes to explore that hold encounters with Lijiang’s Naxi residents who depend on the mountain water that flows through the town’s canals. Classified as a World Heritage Site in 1997, Lijiang is a charming home base for accessing Yunnan’s authentic and lesser-known communities.

Recommend arrival before 12:00PM.

Drive to Wumu Village

The ride from Lijiang to Wumu village will take around 4 hours.

Wumu Village

Wumu Village is renowned for Dongba culture, which is the term for the religious beliefs, script, and ceremonies of the Naxi people. Wumu itself is nestled on a steep mountainside overlooking the Yangtze River and its valley below. The village appears at the end of a narrow, recently paved road, that winds in its path up to the village, offering striking and changing views at every turn. On arrival at Wumu Village, meet a local Dongba heritage master at the Wumu Community Center to learn more about local history and customs of this remote mountain village.

Meals included: dinner

Day 2Wumu Village (2,160m) to The Stone Village (1,770m)

Full Day Hike

Prepare for a full day of hiking ( ~15km over a 7-8-hour hike ) along the Jinsha River with views of the mountains, gorge and rice terraces along the way.

Baoshan Stone Village

The village of Baoshan is born of stone in more ways than one. Set in a dramatic stretch of the Jinsha River valley, the gates, houses and even furniture of this picture-perfect Naxi village are hewn from the local stone, all perched atop an enormous boulder said to be the petrified head of a dragon slain long ago by an ancient king as retribution for bullying the villagers on this side of the river. Today, Baoshan is a bastion of Naxi culture, where many traditional ceremonies, customs and festivals are authentically preserved. Among these is Meng Ben – or the Festival of Heaven Worship – an important event on the Naxi religious calendar with arcane rituals conducted by a Dongba priest.


Logistics

Your luggage will be transported to the next stop. We suggest you pack a day pack with water and snacks for the hike.

During the hike, a simple lunch (bread, energy bar etc.) will be provided.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 3The Stone Village (1,770m) to Upper Liuqing Village (2,350m)

Full Day Hike

Prepare for a full day of hiking (~14km over ~7 hours) including the trek over the famous Taizi Pass (altitude 2,600m).

Taizi Pass

From Baoshan to Upper Liuqing, the trail winds past sleepy hamlets and terraced fields to the stupefying heights of the Taizi, or Prince’s, Pass. In the 13th century Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis, famously crossed the Jinsha River near here, allowing the Mongol army to conquer the independent Dali Kingdom and bring this part of Yunnan under the yoke of the Yuan Dynasty, and Chinese empire, for the first time. At 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) above sea level, the views over the valley below are jaw-dropping, and an appropriate setting to rest and ponder the history of this isolated region.

Upper Liuqing Village

Tucked away in a remote and inaccessible section of the Jinsha River valley, Upper Liuqing Village is a portal to a simpler time; a China before megacities and massive infrastructure projects. Aside from a modest amount of local tourism, the entire economy of Liuqing remains entirely dependent on agriculture and animal husbandry, where the main crops are pepper and walnut which are sold throughout the Naxi communities of the Yulong Naxi Autonomous County.


Logistics

Your luggage will be transported to the next stop. We suggest you pack a day pack with water and snacks for the hike.

During the hike, a simple lunch (bread, energy bar etc.) will be provided.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 4Upper Liuqing Village (2,350m) to Lijiang (2,410m)

Hiking Details

Prepare for a full day including a ~6-hour hike followed by a scenic 1-hour boat ride to Ahai Dam Pier where we will return to our vehicle for the 1-hour drive back to Lijiang. Details as follows:

1st part:
Upper Liuqing Village (2,350m)– Lower Liuqing Village Pier (1,540m), 16km hiking, about 6 hours.
2nd part:
Lower Liuqing Village Pier (1,540m) – Ahai Dam Pier (1,510m), about 1 hour by boat.
3rd part:
Ahai Dam Pier – Lijiang, about 2 hours by car.

Lower Liuqing Village

Lower Liuqing follows on from its sister village higher in the valley, a charming ensemble of traditional tiled homes and winding earth paths clinging to the edge of the mountainside as the Jinsha river courses below. The path here takes in some stunning examples of terraced fields, often populated by Naxi farmers, goat herders and children playing.

Ahai Dam Pier Boat Ride

Descend to the waters edge and the Ahai Dam Pier at an elevation of 4,950ft (1,510m) for a one-hour boat ride helmed by a local ferryman on the steady waters of the Jinsha river.


Logistics

Your luggage will be transported to the next stop. We suggest you pack a day pack with water and snacks for the hike.

During the hike, a simple lunch (bread, energy bar etc.) will be provided.

Meals included: breakfast, lunch, and dinner

Day 5Departure from Lijiang

Your Flight Back Home

Your WildChina guide will escort you to the airport and help you check in for your flight home.

Meals included: breakfast

Hotels

Wumu Village Guesthouse


From the outside, the Wumu Village Guesthouse is simple – a traditional Naxi-style building nestled in amongst the buildings of Wumu Village. However, once inside, the view out is unparalleled. The simple guesthouse is by and far the best place to stay in this humble village, with outstanding views over the mighty Yangzte below.

Sunrise and sunset provide an array of art-worked colors over the river and nighttime gives the best star views of the light pollution-free sky straight outside.

Lux* Stone Town


As the hotel puts it, “Stone Town is where you go to embrace a slower, simpler life” and we couldn’t agree more. The hotel has also worked to embody this mantra into the property, keeping things small and local, with only six guest rooms total. Large glass windows give a floating sensation with stunning panoramic views of the village and river below.

Beautiful, clean rooms and a delicious local cuisine restaurant on-site, give travelers a dreamy rest and refuel for all adventures to come.

Liuqing Village Homestay


As many a seasoned traveler knows well, there’s no better way to immerse in a local culture than by staying with the locals, and tonight’s stay is no exception. Tucked away in the remote reaches of Liuqing Village this local family has opened their home to weary trevelers looking for a place to lay their heads. Set your expectations in advance, though, as this is a 100% no-frills stay. Single-occupancy cot-sized mats are set up for sleep, and the bathroom is the same one that the family uses – an outdoor outhouse (your guide will have toilet paper and hand sanitizer for you to use).

Prepare to get down to the basics in this quaint homestay and see how local villagers of these far-flung mountain communities really live.

The Bivou, Lijiang


The Bivou, which derives its name from the old Swiss word for ‘temporary encampment’, offers itself up as both an ideal resting spot, as well as a convenient launching point into the vast wilderness of Southern China. This charming establishment is located at the foot of the Yulong Mountain and everything from the interior bamboo floors to the solar-powered heating system is a testament to the establishment’s sustainability pledge.

Wake up every morning to an array of fresh fruit and homemade granola, complimented nicely with seasonal jams and local honey. Then, once you feel energized from the healthy offerings and crisp mountain air, set out to slake your wanderlust.

Photos

Photos courtesy of 兔子

Details

Recommended Seasons

What’s Included

  • All on-ground transfers with in-transport refreshments (a 7-seats Buick GL8 van)
  • Luggage van for luggage transfer during the hike
  • All accommodation costs, based on double-occupancy, as noted in the itinerary, with daily breakfast, taxes and service fees included
  • All admission fees and expenses, as noted in the itinerary
  • All meals, as noted in the itinerary, and drinking water.
  • Airport transfers to/from domestic flights at the start and end of your trip, as listed in the itinerary
  • Services of a WildChina English-speaking hiking guide, as noted in the itinerary

What’s Excluded

  • International and domestic flights, domestic trains, plus relevant taxes
  • Chinese tourist visa, which is required for most foreign passport holders
  • Travel and medical insurance
  • Meals, apart from those included in the itinerary, and alcohol
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Excursions and activities not included in the itinerary
  • Discretionary gratuities for guides and drivers
Why WildChina

We’re on the ground with you

Our team of advisors will design every detail of the trip with you through close consultation, then orchestrate your entire journey while on the ground. We’re in the same time zone as you, so we can fulfill requests and handle issues without a hitch. With over 40 staff in China and an expansive network of operational partners across the country, we have the manpower to ensure your journey is safe, reliable and comfortable from beginning to end.

Your trip, your way

Flexibility is our highest-ranking compliment. We pull off journeys for pioneers with a 6-hour layover to Hollywood’s elite, and everywhere in between. Our team regularly pulls off unprecedented logistical feats; nearly any time frame or budget is within our realm. No matter how you wish to experience China, we are here to bring that dream to life.

We embody passion

WildChina guides are carefully handpicked for their knowledge and charisma, then meticulously trained to maintain our exceptional service standards. They are expert storytellers and passionate natives of the regions where they guide, having the perfect combination of local insights and service know-how to bring you seamless once-in-a- lifetime moments all across China.

The little things, the big picture

Supporting inspired local economies allows you to experience the soul of the destination, while also protecting and cultivating China’s artisanal culture. From watching artisans creating their handcrafts, to picking organic vegetables for dinner on a local farm, our tours are designed to showcase and protect China’s heritage, both natural and human.

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