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Crossing the three rivers: Yangtse, Mekong, Nujang

It's time to say goodbye to the Himalaya. And where could that be done better than at the 'sink' of the Himalayan Plateau, where four great rivers flow down towards the ocean. Three of them are in China and flow parallel from north to south digging deep canyons: The Yangtze-, the Mekong- and the Nujang-River (in Myanmar known as Salewen).

 

So far so good. For the Yangtze river there is a road from Shangri-la to Deqin going from 3'400m down to about 2'000m and then up to 4'200m again before coming to Deqin again which lies at about 3500m. Roli and I decided to take the bus for this part since there is a lot of very dusty construction on the road. In Deqin we went to see Kawa Karpo, the 6'700m snowpeak just on the boarder between Yunnan and Tibet. A really beautiful peak!

 

From Deqin then by bicycle down into the Mekong valley which is almost as dry as the upper Yangtze valley. This means a downhill from 3'500m to 1'900m and on the other side up again 200m to a little village of farmers. Although the Mekong is only about 20km airline-distance from the Nujang, there is no road to get to the neighboring valley. So the only way to cross the 4'000-6'000m mountainrange is to do it by mule. I hired a mule and two "horsewomen" (the men were all working on a new road) to bring me to the Nujang valley and left Rolli who took the road down the Mekong. We crossed the mountains in a very fast two days nonstop walking trip (normal is three days) on very steep and basic mountaintrails. The mule was carrying my paniers and I was pushing my bicycle. After two days and about 50km we arrived exhausted in Dimaluo down at about 1'800m again.

 

In the Nujang valley there is much more vegetation than in the other two valleys (see picture). A very humid cloud forest in the upper part, bamboo forests and extremly steep slopes with trees, ferns and moss further down. The path? Narrow trekking path and very muddy and steep on the Nujang valley side.

 

This really was a tough road but great trekking...

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