Why you should experience a Yangtze River Cruise

Why you should experience a Yangtze River Cruise

If you’re considering travelling to China, you’re in for a cultural treat. It’s important to note, that China is not all about bustling cities. The rural beauty is what will capture your heart, and a Yangtze River cruise is the best way to experience the spectacle of the countryside.  

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The Three Gorges

The Yangtze River is the world’s third-longest river and stretches 6,300 km from Shanghai through China’s heartland. The most popular section of the river for travellers is along the incredible stretch of the Three Gorges. Through canyons and cliffs, past mountains and pagodas, your experience will be one of a constantly changing landscape. 
Xiling Gorge is the longest of the Three Gorges and winds through spectacular backdrops. Wu Gorge is the deepest and winding of the gorges and so is known as witches gorge. One of the Yangtze River’s most iconic spots is located here – Goddess Peak which makes up part of the stunning Twelve Peaks. Qutang Gorge is narrow and fringed by sheer limestone cliffs. It is the most dramatic section of the Three Gorges and the location of the Meng Lian staircase which dates back to the Song Dynasty.

How long are Yangtze River Cruises?

If you’re cruising downstream from Chongqing to Yichang, the itinerary is for three nights. Upstream you have more time to experience the Yangtze, with cruises lasting four nights. The itineraries are generally timed to show the gorges at their best – in daylight.

Three Gorges Dam Project

When venturing upstream, you will first have the chance to visit the Three Gorges Dam project site. This region used to experience devastating annual floods, and so the ambitious project aimed to combat this by creating the world’s largest reservoir. The immense plan began in 1971 and was completed in 2009. It is the most influential hydropower project in the world and one of the world’s largest-ever construction schemes. The trade-off was that the level of the Yangtze River had to be raised by about 175m, submerging towns and villages requiring the relocation of many residents. As you stand atop the dam, you will truly understand the immensity of this project.

Shennong Stream

A more tranquil location is the Shennong Stream. One of the first things you will notice is the beautiful emerald green water, very different to the Yangtze's earthy tones that you will have become accustomed to. Along the tributary are signs of ancient Chinese civilization, including caves, plank roads built along cliffs and ancient hanging coffins which date back over 2,000 years. 

After transferring to a longboat (sampan), you will head into the tributary for an enriching experience. Your sampan captain will steer the boat, and three to four boat trackers from the Tujia ethnic minority group will navigate through the shallows. Magical moments unfold when the Tujia share their culture and stories with you, usually through folk songs. The blend of the narrow gorges, peaceful surroundings and songs will give you goosebumps.

816 Underground Project

For something completely different, you can also visit the 816 Nuclear Military Plant. The maze-like bunker, perfect for a Bond villain, is the largest of its kind in the world and contains the world’s largest artificial cave. Let me reassure you that no nuclear activity has taken place here, and the surrounds are completely safe. The project was shut down before being put into operation when the Cold War began to thaw and is now open for tourists to explore. Make sure you stay with your guide as you may not find your way out.

Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer

To experience the Three Gorges in all their glory, you need comfortable surrounds as your base. Cruise the Yangtze River on board the boutique Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer and you can look forward to an intimate and luxurious experience. The Sanctuary Yangzi Explorer has set a new standard of cruising in China. With the largest cabins on the river, all with private balconies, as well as a 1:1 crew to passenger ratio, this is personalised Yangtze River cruising with style.
Whether you’ve been drawn in by the distinctive culture, the layers of history or the wealth of natural spectacles, the Yangtze River will amaze and inspire.
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