Welcome to Nù Jiāng Valley
Sandwiched between Gāolígòng Shān and Myanmar to the west, Tibet to the north and the imposing Bìluó Shān to the east, the gorge holds nearly a quarter of China’s flora and fauna species, and half of China’s endangered species. The valley also has an exotic mix of Han, Nu, Lisu, Drung and Tibetan nationalities, and even the odd Burmese trader. And it’s simply stunning – all of it.
But like other parts of rural Yúnnán, change is coming to the Nù Jiāng Valley. The local government is touting investment opportunities in everything from truffle farms to stone quarries, and the main towns – Liùkù and Fúgòng especially – are booming, with new apartment blocks and shops appearing and Han migrants arriving in numbers.
Nevertheless, the Nù Jiāng remains one of only two rivers that have not been dammed in all China and the signs are that it will, thankfully, stay that way. And getting here remains a pain, which is a good thing in terms of keeping the valley as pristine as is possible in China. Travellers, though, should be prepared for roads that can be impassable due to heavy rain and/or landslides.
All traffic enters via Liùkù. From there, you trundle nine hours up the valley, marvelling at the scenery, and then head back the way you came.
Plans have been announced to blast a road from Gòngshān in the northern part of the valley to Déqīn, and another from the village of Bǐngzhōngluò even further north into Tibet. Given the immense topographical challenges, these schemes are a long way off. But you should make sure to get here before they happen.