Qinghai: Float the Yangtze

The Tibetan plateau in western China     Photo: Karen Chen

Due to the construction of three dams in northwestern Yunnan, raft outfitters stopped running the famed 120-mile Great Bend of the Yangtze River last spring. Next came the unrest in Tibet, and the government forced outfitters to cancel trips on the Upper Yangtze, near the Tibetan Plateau in Qinghai. But there's always next year—shoot for an 18-day, 240-mile expedition next September with the nonprofit FLOW ($4,500; forloveofwater.org). Started by Yangtze rafting experts Jim Norton, Jed Weingarten, and Willie Kern, FLOW hires Tibetan guides to support local communities. "They're damming the Yangtze, but the river's 3,900 miles long," says Kern. "In Qinghai, you see sections that haven't been run in 20 years."
GET THERE: FLOW?leaves from the provincial capital of Xining; Beijing–Xining flights start at $625 (fly-airchina.com).

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