Salween south of Liuku, 2012

Young girl kayaking the lower Salween in 2014. Photo by Travis Winn.

In 2012, Last Descents River Expeditions re-explored the Salween in Yunnan, looking for a stretch of river that was at a relatively low elevation and low latitude that could be run in the winter to replace commercial runs through the Great Bend of the Yangtze, which had been dammed. The Salween north of Liuku had too many Class 5 rapids and the road was too close to the river for a multi-day commercial trip, so Travis Winn and his partners Na Ming Hui and Li Weiyi explored the stretch of river south of Liuku, which runs through a wide valley.

The lower 60 miles of this 100 mile section of river (from 25 51 58N, 98 50 54E, 2640' to 24 24 54N, 98 58 38N), with a gradient of about 7 ft/mi, has many bigwater Class 3 rapids and beautiful sandy beaches on the side of the river opposite the road, which is far from the river and not very noticeable. This area is famous for its numerous very colorful minority nationalities (think Native Americans), cultural attractions and hot springs, plus travel from large east coast cities such as Beijing is relatively easy. It's a perfect trip for people with young children.

Return to Salween First Descents.

More info about rivers of Tibet and western China