The Yaluzhangbu Grand Canyon

Last updated by chinatravel at 2017/5/16

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.

Solo Adventure Tips:


The Yaluzhangbu Grand Canyon lies in the southeast of the Nyingchi Prefecture where the Himalaya, Tanggula and Henduan Mountains join together. Starting from the Milin County, it goes eastwards and turns southwards in the Jiabawa Peak and then it goes further southwards until Xilang of the Motuo County. Around 496.3 km long, the canyon has an average depth of 5,000 meters and a deepest point of 6,009 meters. The average depth of its core section is 2, 673 meters. The biggest height difference on the single side is 7,057 meters and the narrowest part only 35 meters. It is the No. 1 Grand Canyon in the world with the latitude of over 3,000 meters.

How to Get There?

Route 1 Pai District Milin County- Duoxiangla – Nage – Hanmi – Maniweng - Beibeng It is a traditional route from the northern steep of Himalaya to the lower reaches of the Grand Canyon that normally takes the hikers three days. Taking this route, the hikers will climb the 4,200 meter high Duoxiongla Mountain, passing Nage and afterwards down to Hanmi and Maniweng. The “Tiger Mouth” after Hanmi is an extremely dangerous place where each year lots of transportation accidents occur. One can go across from Manaweng to the District of Beibeng (the latitude goes down to only 700 meters) through an iron chain bridge.

Route 2 Pai District Milin – Daduka – Gega – Jiala After Jiala there is no road any more in the depopulated zone and one can only advance along the river for another week until reaching “White Horse and Bear.” On both sides of the river there go upright sharp cliffs and bluffs.

Ticket Price:

Opening Hours:
24 hours a day

More Tips:

1. The best season is from May to October. Due to the poor road conditions, bad weather and possible natural disasters such as landslides, a local guide and horse are needed. There are no hotels and restaurant during the whole journey; therefore, tents, sufficient food and beverage are a must.

2. The Zhaqu camping ground is only 30 km from the Menba Village, Pailong Lingzhi County near the National Highway No.318. Still inaccessible by cars, it is obviously an ideal location for hiking and exploration. Especially after the landslide hardly seen elsewhere in 2000 in Yigong Village Bomi, the roads and brides in this place have been entirely removed and still not been restored yet. The best season to explore the canyon is from April to October when one runs fewer risks of encountering floods and landslides.

3. From Bayi to the great turning of the Yaluzhangbu River, Motuo is the first stop. One should note that Motuo is the only county without a highroad in China. In spite of a few alternative routes, bus or car can only reach Milin or Bomi.

4. This area abounds with such tropical and subtropical creatures as leeches, mosquitoes, snakes etc. The tourists are strongly advised to be prepared accordingly in advance.

5. Currently, in the deep canyon a section of about 100 km has not yet been touched by human being. All the routes to the great turning of the canyon remain untraversed and some of which are merely connected by vine or iron chain bridges. There are a few garrisons and temporary structures built by the local guides on the way that may offer accommodation for the explorers.

6. Only those physiologically and psychologically ready visitors are welcome.

Information accuracy:

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