The Three Gorges Travel Guide
The Three Gorges have been hailed as one of China’s greatest sights for nearly 2,000 years, and they remain undeniably spectacular. However, the building of the world’s biggest dam at Sandouping has had consequences not only for the people and wildlife of the region, but also for its natural beauty. In spite of the dangers, part of the allure of the gorges was their swirling currents and the sheer height of the cliff walls. With the dam completed, the gorges appear some 400 feet lower than they were, and the raging river has been tamed into a placid 375-mile-long lake. Still, even as the waters have risen and the numbers of tourists has dwindled, the Three Gorges are worth visiting.
Three Gorges Cruises
Cruises operate between Chongqing and Yichang, Wuhan or even Shanghai, but the crucial Three Gorges stretch runs between Baidicheng and the dam site at Sandouping. Ferries and cruise boats both offer splendid views of the gorges themselves and also stop at a collection of temples along the way. As you’d expect, the more you pay, the classier the vessel and the onboard services and facilities should be. Cruises typically last three nights for the Chongqing-to-Yichang section, but some of the upscale boats go at a more leisurely pace and can take as long as five days for this stretch, longer if they travel as far as Wuhan.
There are three principal styles of travel along the river: international and domestic cruise boats, ferries (which stop at all the tourist sights) and, finally, the 13-hour straightthrough hydrofoil, which offers no more than a fleeting visit and is only worthwhile if you have financial or time constraints.
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