The Yaluzhangbu Grand Canyon
The Yaluzhangbu Grand Canyon is a world-class scenic spot in Tibet and it is of the same significance as the Potala Palace and Zhumulangma. Used to be a treacherous canyon hidden in inner Tibet, it has been “rediscovered” today as a new and challenging tourist destination in the east of the world.
In the ancient Tibetan language “Yaluzhangbu” means the water flowing down from the summit. The Yaluzhangbu Grand Canyon, covered with ice and snow, embraces the mountains and peaks in the Najiaba Peak area. It constitutes a passage for the moisture from the Indian Ocean to the inner mountainous region which helps make the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau a piece of green oasis.
The Grand Canyon has a total length of 496 km, ranking the first in the world. The average much depth of the canyon is about 5, 000 meters and the deepest point down to 5, 382 meters, which is deeper than that of Kelka Canyon of Peru and Colorado Canyon of the US. The canyon area encompasses the Pailong Village of the Nyingchi County, the Pai Village of the Milin County and the County of Motuo. The marvelous tourist attractions include the Grand Canyon, the Great Yaluzhangbu Turning, the Peak of the Nanjiabawa, the Peak of the Jialabailei, the tropical forest and the folk customs of the Menba and Luoba People.
The canyon boasts the most abundant and complex mountainous ecological type in the world. From the bottom at some hundred meters above the sea level to the top of the Nanjiabawa Peak (7, 787 meters), there spread the distinct ecological systems ranging from tropical to systems only seen in Polar Regions. The rare species include “the living fossil” –the fern erne tree, the moss, the Yunnan iron cedar, the giant boa, the Bangladesh tiger, the long- leaf tail monkey and the bear monkey etc. In 1994 the scientist from the Chinese Academy of Science for the first time advanced that it is the largest canyon in the world, which has been evidenced later by the GPS measuring in October and November 1998. On the 10th of October that year the State Council of China officially entitled it “the Yaluzhangbu Grand Canyon”.
The sophisticated stone wares found in the canyon (similar to those unearthed in the northern steep of the Himalaya) suggests that 5,000 to 8,000 years ago here was not only a habitat for the Tibetan ancestors but also an important passage to connect people on the highland and those from the low areas. Nowadays there still live thousands of Luoba and Menba people in the harsh roof of the world. The preservation of their traditional customs and cultures, such as their tribe totems, witchcrafts and religious rituals, are highly appreciated as a piece of precious living archeological fossil.
The Yaluzhangbu Grand Canyon can be characterized by 10 adjectives: high, grand, deep, wet, serene, long, treacherous, low, bizarre and gorgeous.
High: On both sides of the canyon there stand numerous high and sharp peaks, among which, Nanjiabawa and Jialabai are 7,782 meters and 7,234 meters high respectively.
Grand: Taking a bird’s eye view from the sky or from the mountain top like Xixinla, the whole canyon looks like a huge dragon winding its way through mountains and peaks, hugging the Nanjiabawa Peak and turning southwards to the Indian Ocean.
Deep: The deepest point between the Nanjiabawa and Jialabailei Peaks is 5,382 meters and the average depth of the canyon around the Nanjiabawa Peak 5, 000 meters.
Wet: The canyon functions as the largest passage for the moisture coming into the plateau. Thanks to the warm and wet air currents from the Indian Ocean, the southern part of the canyon has an average annual rainfall of about 4,000 mm; and the northern part 1,500 to 2,000 mm. Wet and mild climate gives rise to the exuberant forest in this area. The canyon is deemed to have the largest creature variety in the planet.
Serene: Due to its dense forest, remote position and treacherous topography, most part of the canyon has hardly been explored and disturbed by human beings. The gigantic mist crowning the canyon apparently adds to its mysterious serenity.
Long: The canyon circles around the Nanjiabawa Peak with a total length of 496.3 km, 56 km longer than – Colorado.
Treacherous: For some sections there are no roads, consequently nobody has ever covered the whole canyon on foot until today. As to the river, the average runoff stays at 4,425 cubic meters per second, much higher than that of the Colorado River (67 cubic meters per second only) and its flow speed reaches 16 meters per second. Due to its peerless treachery, no one has ever surfed into the canyon so far.
Low: The lowest point- Bacuoka is only 156 meters above the sea level, which is by far lower than the three canyons mentioned earlier.
Bizarre: The most bizarre feature as regards the canyon is that it makes an abrupt turning from east - westwards to south - wards at the eastern end of Himalaya and finally joins the Indian Ocean. The huge turning in shape of a gigantic horseshoe serves as a passage for the moisture from the ocean that helps form the unique ecological system in the southeast of Tibet.
Gorgeous: The whole canyon is sometimes likened to Guilin, Guangxi Province, where the scenery is deemed to be the most gorgeous in the world.
Covering different latitudes, the canyon is noted for its very unique topography and it is a paradise for a wide variety of creatures. Below the latitude of 1,000 meters where the tropical prevails, on both sides of the canyon grow the bushy tropical primitive forest, among which, the thistle is the most eye-catching. The latitude between 1,000 meters and 2,400 meters belongs to the mountainous subtropical climate featuring abundant rainfall. In this area one can see a few coniferous trees and some of them are rare species only found in Tibet. Going upwards till the latitude of 2,400 to 3,000 meters where the mountainous temperate climate functions, one will see the broad leaved forest whose colors vary in different seasons. In spring and summer it turns out to be green and in fall and winter it becomes the mixed yellow and red, thus comes its name “Five Colored Forest”. Many tree holes are used as “the natural wood inn”. Above 3,000 meters, in the part similar to the Frigid Zone, there is another picture. From November till May of the next year, the thickness of the snow can go up to one meter. Due to the harsh natural condition the species here is much fewer than elsewhere. Nevertheless some plants and flowers do courageously come out from June to October.