Follow in the footsteps of Joseph Rock and Hike from Shangrila Niru Village to Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve

Embarking on a trek from Shangri-La’s Niru Village to the Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve is a journey that follows in the footsteps of the early 20th-century explorer and botanist, Joseph Rock. This trek is not just a physical challenge but also a spiritual and cultural exploration. Below is a travel blog entry that captures the essence of such a trek.

In the Footsteps of Joseph Rock: A Himalayan Odyssey from Niru to Yading

Prelude: Shangri-La – The Gateway to the Mystical

Shangri-La, with its Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and prayer wheels, set the tone for my journey. I spent days acclimating, wandering through the old town, and preparing for the trek ahead.

Day 1: Niru Village – Where the Trail Begins

The trek started in the remote Niru Village, a place seemingly frozen in time. Surrounded by dense forests and towering peaks, I felt the presence of Joseph Rock, who once passed these lands documenting Yunnan’s flora and cultures.

Day 2-3: Niru to the Alpine Meadows

The path from Niru wound through alpine meadows dotted with wildflowers and grazing yaks. Nights under the stars were a humbling experience, reminding me of the vastness of the landscape.

Day 4: Ascending the High Passes

Breathless and battling the altitude, I climbed the high mountain passes that Rock once traversed. The views from the top were a panorama of the soul-stirring beauty that few have the privilege to witness.

Day 5: Descent into the Valleys

Descending into the valleys, I encountered hidden Tibetan villages. Here, I was welcomed with butter tea and tales of a bygone era. The warmth of the people contrasted with the crisp mountain air.

Day 6-7: Valley of the Blue Moon

I reached the Valley of the Blue Moon, a name Rock gave to the area that inspired the mythical Shangri-La. The tranquility of the valley was a testament to the enduring legend.

Day 8: Approaching the Gates of Yading

With each step towards the Daocheng Yading Nature Reserve, the sacred peaks of Chenresig, Jambeyang, and Chanadorje rose before me, just as they have for millennia.

Day 9: The Sanctuary of Yading

Entering Yading was like stepping into a painting. The three sacred peaks, known as the “Rigsum Gonpo,” stood as guardians of the landscape. The jewel-colored lakes and the verdant grasslands were a fitting end to the journey.

Day 10: Daocheng – A Reflective Respite

In Daocheng, I rested and reflected on the journey. The experience was transformative, a pilgrimage through nature’s cathedral.

Trekking Niru to Yading – Insights and Inspirations

  • Preparation is Crucial: Acclimatize to the altitude, prepare for variable weather, and respect the limitations of your body.
  • Travel with Respect: Be mindful of local customs and the sanctity of the land.
  • Sustainability Matters: Minimize your environmental impact to preserve these trails for future generations.
  • Capture Memories: Take photographs and notes, but also take time to simply absorb the majesty of the Himalayas.
  • Embrace the Unexpected: Allow the journey to unfold naturally, with its challenges and rewards.

Following in Joseph Rock’s footsteps from Niru to Yading is to walk a path of discovery, not just of the external world, but of the internal landscapes of the spirit. Each step is a meditation, each breath a connection to the past, and each day a chapter in your own story of exploration. This trek is more than a journey through the Himalayas—it’s a quest for the Shangri-La within.