Three Parallel Rivers and Biluo Snow Mountain Hiking Tour from Cizhong to Nujiang

As we pushed into the deepest corners of Yunnan, so we chose an inaccessible route of the country: crossing the Biluo Jokul located in the core area of the parallel rivers- The world Natural Heritage, from, Cizhong in Deqin to Nujiang River.

Being informed of our route, my friend, Qiao Yang introduced his friend a guide, Luo, to me. He is a Tibetan who lives in Catholism, and lives in Dimaluo, Nu Jiang. He has been working as a guide in three parallel rivers for almost twenty years. He has served as a tour guide for many tourists at home and abroad, especially for this route, and he earns a reputation in outdoor activity field. Many friends around me know him. For this time he guides three Americans and one Chinese across Biluo Jokul to Nujiang River, and Luo will guides us towards Bingzhongluo in Nu Jiang area. There are only about three hundred people walking on this route, and more than half of them are backpackers from aboard.

Biluo Jokul is the branch of the Himalayas, located in Hengduan Mountain, there are fifteen snow mountains with the elevation of more than 4000 meters. The highest peak, Lawo Mountain, 4500 meters above sea level, the relative relief compared with Lancang River is of 3200 meters, is the most beautiful place among these snow mountains. It preserves a very complete primitive ecosystem. The climate in the mountain changes, anomaly. The foaming waterfalls cover densely. The mountains and lakes are gathering. It’s known as the mountain with numerous waterfalls and lakes. The mountain also separates the Nujiang Grand Cayon and the Lancang River Grand Cayon. The Gongshan and Deqin counties are two adjacent counties in Yunnan Province. Biluo Mountain, There is no highway between two countries. Local people on both sides of the Biluo Mountain have been using horses or hiking to connect and exchange goods from generation to generation between the two places. In the early 19th century, western zoologists, botanists and missionaries frequently dabbled in the area. Today, even westerners believe that the formation of European gardens attributes the success to Hengduan Mountain.

Three Parallel River refers to the Jinsha River, Lancang River, and Nujing River, these three rivers originate in the Qinghai, Tibet plateau, flowing in yunnan province from north to south in the parallel running more than 170 kilometers, crossing the lofty and precipitous peaks, such as, Danglika Mountain, the Gaoligong Mountains, the Nu Mountain and the Yunling Mountain, forming the world’s rare “river flows parallel instead of convergence “special natural geographical landscape. The shortest line distance between the Lancang River and Jinsha River is 66 km, and the shortest line distance between the Lancang river and the Nujiang River is less than 19 kilometers.

The natural landscape is also made up of the Nujiang River, Lancang river and Jinsha river and the other mountains in its basin, the scope of 1.7 million hectares, including 9 nature reserves and10 tourist attractions located in Lijiang, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan. It is located in the confluence of three geographic areas: East Asia, South Asia and Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, this is a representative region of rare alpine landform and its evolution as well as a region with one of the most abundant species in the world. The scenic spot spans three prefectures: Lijiang, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture.

We were staying in Luo’s relatives home when we came to Cizhong . His relatives famous here-Wu Gongding, he is director of the church management committee in Cizhong, as well as those few who make wine by ancient brewing techniques. Unfortunately, this old gentleman was not at home, and his daughter -in- law treated us hospitably.

Wine is the most famous in Cizhong. The climate and the soil in Cizhong are similar to those in France, so it’s suitable for growing grapes. Grape varieties are Muscat Hambury and Huafuren, both from Bordeaux, France. With the cultivation history of five hundred years in France, the grape varieties have faded away gradually in the flood of history. Unexpectedly, these disappeared grapes are growing vibrantly in a village of Yunnan, in distant China.

Cizhong is like the land of idyllic beauty, She is peacefully hidden near the mountains and the Lancang River. There is a main road in the village. Along the road, the gurgling spring is flowing down the mountain, And the large fields of vineyard is everywhere.

Eastern and western cultures and beliefs are blending here. There are prayers- flags of Tibetan Buddhism as well as European churches.

Walking along the path in the village, we can come to the most famous church-Cizhong Church. It’s a Chinese and western combined building with local ethic style.

We went to the doorway, having seen through the Chinese style gate, the Catholic Church constructed from the early part of the century , as soon as we came in, we met the priest here—Yao Fei. He came from Inner Mongolian, he hospitably introduced us the history of Cizhong Church and showed us around the inner church. This Catholic Church was built by French missionaries, they began the construction in 1905 and completed in 1921. This glamorous church has become the bishop of the auditorium of Yunnan Deanery. It is praiseworthy for this Catholic Church been preserved in an area prevails the Tibetan Buddhism.

2006, this church was rated as “the state-level protection units.”

There are courtyards with the structure of Chinese style along both sides. Except the priest and the church staff, the courtyards’ owners occasionally provide tourists with reception. After coming out of the church, we went back down the village along the path. At dinner, Lo told me that the mountaineering team had hired caravans, which means I’m the only one who bears load and climb the Biluo Yokul. The next morning the caravans had arrived, and the wagoner was Luo’s nephew. Since Americans didn’t rush back from Deqin, and I was the only one who load-bearing, and it takes too much time to take pictures along the journey. Then I decided to start first to prevent me from lagging behind my companion. We agreed to meet near the path of the dam. I went straight along the path next to the water power station of Cizhong.

The path of the mountain was covered with thick and lush vegetation, walking along the path made me feel very comfortable.

It took more than an hour to get to the top of the first hill, where I could overlook the magnificent Lancang River, and a dirt road leading to the Cizhong river dam was built along the water power station. The old courier station had been buried by huge engineering machines. The only thing I can do is keeping moving.

When I got close to the dam, Lo and American companions had not arrived yet, and I met a Tibetan woman. Chatting and learning that she and Lo have agreed to meet here, and climb the Biluo Yokul with us to visit her younger sister who married far into Balagong Mountain. And it can save a lot of money by walking this way. About half an hour later, Lo rushed with his caravans and American companions, and there were eight people including me. Because we were not familiar with each other, we hurried without any words.

We walked on the path along the river and got into the primitive forests which were full of all sorts of tall arbors. Because it was in the late autumn, the colorful leaves have already painted the mountain in a riot of color, and the stones were covered with a thick moss along the way.  Various of mushrooms overgrew the trees.

Not only the exuberant vegetation along the way, but also the snow water flowing from the Biluo Yukol converged here to form streams and rivulets flow, the bridge near the river was built by logs , which is simple and easy, and the bridge was very slippery, you should be very careful when crossing the river.

The water in the river is clear and drinkable. As expected, I walked at the very end of the team for load bearing and picture taking. We arrived at a ranch in the noon, with several stalls scattered around. This place is called Loxintong (the flat with pine trees), with 3,000 meters above sea level. The sun was shining the opposite hills, and it was colorful and beautiful.

Due to unfamiliar, we sat separately on both sides to have a simple lunch, and I offered to share some of the special-made black sesame that Qiao Yang gave me, which immediately brought us closer. This American spoke Chinese very well, and he introduced him and his three companions to me. They were from the United States, and his Chinese name was Lin Deng. His wife, son, and colleague were his companions. Lin Deng came to China in the 1980s and he was a “China Hand”. His wife was a Chinese American born and bred. At present, they were running a very famous inn called Xi Lin Yuan in Xizhou, Dali. On this trip, they went to do some investigations in Nujing area with their 17 –year-old son and colleagues . They prepared to run a hotel similar to Xi Lin Yuan. Instead of driving, they chose to walk over the Biluo Jokul to Nu River and to enjoy the funny time of hiking with their family. The American family culture is worthy of being learning.

The Tibetan lady in our team also believed in Catholicism. Lin Deng chatted with her in American humor and made us laugh.

We went on our ways after dinner. As the altitude rose, the scenery was more attractive, and the plants were more abundant. You could hear birds singing in the forests. The forests were thicker and thicker with the climbing; I walked at the bottom of the team and could hardly saw them. When I walked to an open ground, I was suddenly unable to find the way. I tried to call some help but nobody answered, and I thought it was not good to lost here. I was a little nervous because there were a lot of large wild animals haunting here. After a long time, I finally found a path that was not obvious. As the small number of people who came over the Biluo Jokul every year, they could not make it without tour guides.

I galloped on the rugged path. After about an hour, I finally saw Lin Deng’s son and his wife playing near the river, and I finally released my tension. When I approached the river, Lin Deng’s son was bathing in the cold icy water, and I was admired him very much.

I walked along the path for a while, and I saw an open ground, the sunset glory is just burning on a cabin, and it was a colorful valley with a little Nordic style in the distance . When I walked in, I saw that the cabin was the red star station. It took seven hours to get the first camp, the Summer Bucket Ranch (the flattened flat), at 3,220 meters above sea level.

The “scarecrow” is next to the wooden house. There are Catholic portraits hanging in the room, which are still rare in Tibetan areas.

Walking outside, having seen that Lo’s nephew feeding horse with grass in the distance, Chun Jiang rested on a big stone. The scenery is extremely devastating.

The next morning, the Tibetan lady and Lo made breakfast for everyone. We packed our bags and kept going, Lin Deng seemed to be calculating!

Came to a river, Lin Deng pointed to the Marnyi Stone and told me that he had piled them up yesterday afternoon, because he started to believe in Buddhism since he came to China , and he also had “菩提” tattooed on his skin.

It was still very cold walking in the mountains in the early morning, and suddenly I saw a group of monkeys on the mountain in the distance. I could see them with the naked eye, but my camera couldn’t focalize in such far. Lo said that the primitive ecological system of Biluo Jokul is very complete. There would be lots of wild animals, whether we can see them or not depends on our luck.

With the rising of elevation, the vegetation on the way was more colorful, there were all kind of waterfalls and streams. Our moods were also enchanted by this gorgeous autumn scenery, especially Lin Deng’s son, he was full of curiosity and  jumped in great joy.

Long and narrow meadow stretched far down to Selaya mountain pass (4300 meters) , we walked along a winding path beside the rill flowing from the snow mountain, both sides of the path are still remain the gorgeous color of late autumn, the sky and the distant mountain added radiance and beauty to each other , which was splendid.

The sunshine was touching everyone’s face. We enjoyed the beauty of the nature. Walking to a stone house with delightful peace, the Tibetan lady stopped, and she suddenly knelt down and started praying earnestly. The stone house turned out to be a small church. Luo said it was no surprise that such a small church was built along the way, because the French priest Andreu organized the villagers to rebuild the post road from Cizhong to Dimaluo in the 1930s.


The rising altitude made climbing very painful, fortunately, we got beautiful sceneries. The road to the Selaya pass was zigzag. It feit endless from one mountaintop to another.

After getting the bottom of the hill, we came to the end of the path, and it was another long and winding path called Selageding. Because I was load bearing, my legs bore much more than before we climbing the mountain, and it indeed drove me crazy.

Halfway up the hill, I saw an alpine lake at the foot of the hill on the opposite, it likes a turquoise inlayed there.

We had been continued to go westwards after getting the bottom of the valley, at the bottom of the valley, there was a big ranch called Sewalongba (haily valley), there were huts of all sizes, waterfalls were pouring down on both sides of the mountain, and finally converged into a river which ran through the bottom of the valley, and I was impressed by the awe- inspiring landscapes.

Finally, we got the camp in the second day–the A Luo courier station.

In the third day, we finished the breakfast in the early morning, Luo and Ling Deng decided to take a new line after their discussion, which was relatively easier than climbing over the Balagongya pass. We went westwards along the path, turned a circle around the bottom of the mountain and came out.

In the third day, we finished the breakfast in the early morning, Luo and Ling Deng decided to take a new line after their discussion, which was relatively easier than climbing over the Balagongya pass. We went westwards along the path, turned a circle around the bottom of the mountain and came out.

Just as Luo had described, walking along the river, the autumn was very much in the wild pasture where the wooden shelters were scattered like the exotic rural residences in the movies. I really wanted to stay here for a day to appreciate such rare beauty.

My backpack was lighter as well. The altitude would be dropping along the way. We still shuttled in the primitive forests, and the roaring waterfall pouring from the snow mountain was deafening.

Walking along the Walongba Canyon, the scenery was dizzying. There was neither raucous crowd in the primitive forests, nor pollution. People couldn’t help crying when being closer to nature. The three rivers and streams are the world’s natural cultural heritage. The reputation followed naturally real distinction.

The river valley in the late autumn is like a palette overturned by God, walking through a thick primitive forests, going across a landslide area, getting round the Balagong Mountain. We passed by the mountain, and the village appeared on the mountainside. A few residence of Nu Nationality appeared when we went uphill. Halfway up the hill, I finally saw Dimaluo in the valley of Biluo Jokul and Gaoligong Mountain. This is the end of our trip – Luo’s home in Dimaluo.
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