Nu Jiang Preliminary Recce Expedition report

Expedition report:

Southern reaches of Nu Jiang valley

In early November of 2001 Erin Lynch visited Nu Jiang prefecture to recce for the December 2001 Nu Jiang expedition. What follows is a brief summary.

Geography

Nu Jiang Prefecture is located in the northwest corner of Yunnan province, on the Chinese-Myanmar border. The prefecture is divided into 4 counties, 3 of which encompass the Gaoligongshan and ? mountain ranges which flank the Nu Jiang (Angry River).

Elevations in the prefecture range from approx. 1000m to 4500m.

Tributaries to the Nu Jiang tend to cut deep, often sheer walled valleys. The steepness of relief in the main valley generally seems to increase as you head northward.

There are often a few low-lying clouds in the valley

Climate

In mid-November, Nu Jiang prefecture was sunny and pleasantly cool. Water levels in the Nu Jiang appeared to be several meters below the flood line. Hiking in the valley, it was comfortable to wear short sleeves, although it got significantly colder when the sun went down. The leaves were just starting to turn, and I expect the last week of November would be a particularly good time to appreciate the natural scenery.

View from one of the few road bridges to cross the Nu Jiang

In the summer months the valley receives a lot of precipitation, which can cause problems with transportation (see the Infrastructure section)

Over the winter snow cover reaches down to 2300m.

Infrastructure

In the Nu Jiang valley, there is essentially one road running north-south, which connects to the rest of Yunnan through its southern extremity. Paved near towns and in the south, there are stretches where the road is gravel or dirt. North of Fugong, there are 3 places where water runs across the road and sections which have suffered recent avalanche damage. For this reason, travel on a tight schedule is inadvisable during the rainy season.

The prefecture has 3 main towns along the main road: Liuku, Fugong, and Gongshan. Liuku is the most southerly, and seat of the prefecture. At Liuku, south of Fugong, and at Gongshan road bridges cross the Nu Jiang. Pedestrian bridges cross the river every 3 to 10 kilometers, although there are a few longer stretches without.

Show cave north of Liuku

From the main north-south, a second road branches west at Gongshan, towards Dulong Valley. This road ascends for 54m to a pass at 3400m, and then descends for a further 45m to the valley, which is devoid of internal roads. Road access to Dulong is only open during brief periods when it is not blocked by snow or avalanches.

Transportation

Formations in the showcave

There are good daily links between the main towns on minibuses and it is easy to catch a passing minibus by simply standing in the road. Buses tend to run every hour or half hour in the morning and early afternoon.

More obscure desinations are serviced by smaller micro-vans? with cabs that seat half a dozen, and maybe seats for another 6 in the back leave the towns intermittenly. Micro-vans have their destinations written on white plastic plaques displayed in the front window. Their schedules are irregular, and I didn't try the micro-vans because I wasn't confident of being able to return to my origin the same day.

Showcave guide

Links

Green Gong: cultural info about the Nu Jiang; a little hard to read, obviously not written by a native english speaker
Nu Jiang River Project: company that organizes rafting tours down the Nujiang (now defunct?); interesting info about water levels and climate
A map of the showcave--they claim it is 5km long