China Expedition Overview
This March, the Epicocity Project will hit the Upper Salween paddling, because when kayaking in the tail end of the Himalayan winter-when the water level is low enough to allow reasonable safety- paddling hard will be the only way to stay warm. Rivers in Demand will raise awareness to the value of free flowing rivers by kayaking two distinct sections of China’s longest undammed river. The expedition begins at 11,000 feet in Tibet’s remote Mari Township. The upper Salween careens down a high altitude desert renowned wildlife biologist George Schaller has described as one of two remaining ‘unexplored’ regions on the planet. Below this, the Salween froths and rolls into some of the world’s most biologically diverse temperate forests and into consideration for a thirteen dam cascade with in the boundaries of a designated world heritage site and proposed National Park. This section of whitewater is the scene for the third phase of the expedition.
Sandwiched between the two Salween descents, the EP crew will be helping Last Descents River Expeditions to document what may well be the last descent of the Great Bend of the Yangtze River. The Yangtze River is the longest river in Asia and the third longest in the world. China began the first hydroelectric project on the Yangtze River in 1970 and, in an effort to provide clean energy to a ballooning economy and population, began construction of the Three Gorges Dam in 1994. One side effect of the reservoirs created by these hydroelectric projects is the loss of pristine sections of river like the Great Bend. Our trip down the Great Bend will likely be the last descent of China’s best known premier rafting river. This multicultural expedition will include Chinese conservationists, river enthusiasts, and media that will help share the majestic beauty of this river with China in a way that reveals the value of preservation for the enjoyment of domestic and international tourists.
Phase third grounds the raw beauty of the upper section in the development challenges faced by Chinese leadership in the middle reaches of the Salween. Last Descents River Expeditions will bring Lan Hui Ming, the local tourism bureau director responsible for overseeing the newly created Bing Zhong Luo National Park, on a rafting trip to discuss his hopes for eco-tourism on the Salween.