Red Trail Revisited
To watch a video of this journey, click here
History and adventure combine in this route, followed by the Red Army during the Long March in April 1935. Twenty thousand Reds raced from the historic town of Lijiang to the Jinsha River, which they crossed in small boats and hand-made rafts before fighting their way over the snow-covered Mt. Yaha and onto the Tibetan Plateau. We will be trekking in reverse direction, beginning this richly varied journey in a broad Tibetan valley peopled by yak herders and small farmers.
From the eastern foot of Mt. Yaha, we ascend to a herders' camp close to the pass, 3,900 meters above sea level. Once over the mountain, the trail plunges through dense forest into the Jinsha River valley, peopled by a mixture of Naxi, Lisu and Han. Leaving our mule team at the tiny town of Shangjiang, we then raft gently downstream for a day and a half, camping one night on a lovely sandy beach, before reaching the ancient town of Shigu and the celebrated First Bend in the Yangtze, as the Jinsha becomes known further downstream.
- Zhongdian Old
Town, unique example of a traditional Tibetan market town
- ·A moderately challenging 3-day caravan trek along the Long March Trail
- Guided by world-leading expert on history and geography of the Long March
- Beautiful and diverse scenery
of Mt Yaha, Xiao Zhongdian plain and
valley Jinsha River
- Traditional towns and villages of the Tibetan, Lisu and Naxi peoples
- Relaxing rafting
journey down the mighty
Best times: May, October
Route Map: Click here for an overview of this journey
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Day 1: Join tour in Shangri-la
Orientation meeting. Shangri-la is 3,280 meters above sea level, and so the air is relatively thin and many visitors feel slightly poorly at first. We will take time to acclimatize on Day 2.
Hotel, evening meal
Day 2: Shangri-laIn the morning, visit the historic Songzanlin Lamsery on the north edge of town. After lunching on hearty local fare and yak butter tea, you will proceed to the Red Army Museum in the Old Town, where Dr. Ed Jocelyn will introduce the extraordinary background to the upcoming journey (Ed was a consultant to this museum during its construction in 2006-7). Dinner is in the Old Town followed by a performance of Tibetan folk music.
Day 3: Shangri-la - Shimaigu CampThis morning you are free to wander the cobbled streets of the Old Town. After an early lunch, you will transfer by private bus to Xiao Zhongdian and make a short afternoon trek to camp at the base of Mt Yaha.
Approx 7 km, 2 hours walking
Day 4: Shimaigu Camp - Yahaguo PastureHead up the east slope of Mt. Yaha, which took care of many Reds coming the other way in April 1935. They either collapsed from exhaustion and altitude sickness, or drank poisonous water from the streams near the pass. We'll camp close to the pass on a glorious pasture where we might also impose on the herders for a few restorative cups of yak-butter tea. This point is about 3,900 meters above sea level.
Approx 10 km, 6 hours walking
Day 5: Yahaguo Pasture - Yaha West Camp
Cross the pass and trek down to camp approx 2,500 meters above sea level. Parts of this trail are rocky and steep, and so today's trek poses a significant challenge to knees and ankles. Towards late afternoon we must also cross a fast-flowing stream over a very narrow bridge, which calls for a steady nerve. You can always choose to wade across, of course, but there are several more kilometres to walk in wet boots!
Approx 16 km, 6-7 hours walking
Day 6: Shangjiang - CikeTrek to the riverside village of Shangjiang, where after lunch we say goodbye to the horse team and board a raft to head downstream along China's mightiest river. Tonight's campsite is on a beach in the middle of the river.
Approx 6 km, 2 hours walking, followed by 3 hours rafting
Day 7: Cike - Shigu, then transfer to Lijiang by private busBack onto the raft and we complete our journey at the historic town of Shigu, where Kubla Khan's Mongol horde crossed the Jinsha on inflated pig-bladders. Dine in Shigu, then drive approx two hours to Lijiang by private bus.
Approx 5 hours rafting
Day 8: Tour ends
Transfers available to Lijiang Airport.