Daning River is a large tributary of the Yangtze River, joining the
Yangtze River at the western end of Wu Gorge. The Lesser Three
Gorges, stretching 25 kilometers (16 miles) in the lower reaches of
Daning River, are some of the the highlights of a Yangtze River
cruise. The Lesser Three Gorges, travelling upriver from the
Yangtze, are called Longmen Gorge, Bawu Gorge and Dicui Gorge.
Passengers often transfer to a smaller sightseeing ship at the
mouth of Daning River for cruising upstream.
It is very obvious that the river water of Daning River is emerald
green compared to the light green of the Yangtze River.
Mist–wreathed mountains along Daning River are covered with lush
green flourishing vegetation, much of which is one of the
specialties of Wushan County, called Cloud and Mist Tea. This kind
of tea is required to be planted on cliffs in a cloudy and misty
environment. There are often troops of monkeys appearing at the
river bank and on the trees of the mountains.
Besides the natural beauty, there are many historical sites along
the Lesser Three Gorges, among which the most notable ones are the
Hanging Coffins and a plank road built along the cliff.
The entrance to Daning River at Wushan Town is about 500 km (300
miles) northeast, down the Yangtze, from Chongqing City and about
200 km (130 miles) upriver from Yichang, in Central China. The
Lesser Three Gorges stretch 25 kilometers (16 miles) from north to
south, and form the lower reaches of Daning River, in Wushan
Men means ‘gate’ in the Chinese language. Longmen Gorge is the
“gate” to the Lesser Three Gorges, just as Kuimen is the “gate” of
the Three Gorges. It is the shortest of the Lesser Three Gorges,
just 3 kilometers (1.8 miles) long. Passengers can see the plank
road built along the gorge cliff. In the tea packing season, there
are will be many motorboats coming and going.
Bawu Gorge, stretching ten kilometers (6.2 miles), is famous for
its grotesque mountains and over-2000-year-old Hanging Coffins.
Hanging coffins was an ancient funeral custom of some minority
groups, especially the Bo people of Southern China. The Hanging
Coffins of the Three Gorges region were mostly made with one whole
piece of wood and sit on natural rock projections on mountain
faces. Seeing the hanging coffins, passengers may not be able to
help asking: Why did the ancient people bury the dead in hanging
coffins and how did they do this? These have been mysteries about
the Hanging Coffins for centuries. Listening to the guide telling
the story of the Hanging Coffins while passing through the gorge
can be really interesting.
Dicui Gorge is the longest and most graceful of the Lesser Three
Gorges, stretching 20 kilometers (12 miles). The word Dicui means
‘emerald green’ in the Chinese language. The vegetation of Dicui
Gorge is the most flourishing and the best protected among the
Lesser Three Gorges. On a quite day a trip through here in a small
sightseeing ship can be an impressive and peaceful
The Mini Three Gorges
At the end of Dicui Gorge, passengers will see a branch of Daning
River, called Madu River. There are three gorges smaller than the
Lesser Three Gorges, called the Mini Three Gorges, namely Sancheng
Gorge, Qinwang Gorge and Changtan Gorge. A side trip is offered
through the Mini Three gorges. The gorges are too narrow for a
Passengers take a small mat-covered wooden boat to travel through
the gorges. As passengers are much closer to the water and the
river is much narrower than in the Lesser Three Gorges and the
Three Gorges, the Mini Three Gorges seems even more lofty, deep and
serene. The enchanting scenery, fair-sounding folk songs of local
fishermen and agreeable gorge breeze will transport you far away
from the hustle and bustle of the city and much closer to nature.
1. Ferrying in a small mat-covered wooden boat in the Mini
2. Admiring the fair-sounding folk songs of local people