Although Tom and Devin both independently came up with the idea of paddling the Three Gorges several years ago, we only met each other and began serious research for this journey in December 2002. We found the following resources of interest.


Project Information
Three Gorges Project Corporation

Check the following sites for a critical look at the Three Gorges project
International Rivers Network
Flood Wall Street
Three Gorges Probe

Commercial Tours of the Three Gorges
Yangtze Cruises
China Highlights Yangtze River Cruise
CITS Yangtze River page
Asia Holidays Yangtze Tour

Travel accounts
Kevin Kohr's journey
Michael Durmus' journey
China Vista

Kayaking and Whitewater in China
Shangri La River Expeditions, history of first descents
Ancil Nance account of '86 Warren Expedition

Other Information
Obtaining a Visa

If you can't afford sattelite photos (see MapMart), aerronautical charts provide some of the best topographic maps for remote parts of the world. The Tactical Pilotage Chart H-11B covers the Middle Yangtze from Chongqing to Yichang at 1:500,000 scale. We ordered our charts from MapTown. We've heard of old Russian topographic maps that are available for parts of China but figuring out which ones to order turned into a major project.

Riding the Dragon's Back. This book describes the story of competing teams led by Ken Warren, Richard Bangs, and a group of Chinese who all fought for the honor of the first descent of the Yangtze through the mid 1980's. The prize eventually went to the Chinese team as they floated past Shanghai and into the East China Sea in November of 1986. Most of the story details the challenging class V rapids of the Tiger's Leap Gorge as told by Richard Bangs.

The Three Gorges of the Yangtze River: A Guide for Tourists, published by China Water Power Press. This is the most informative historical guide for the Three Gorges with 250 pages of text describing historical, cultural, and geologic features of the Three Gorges. Despite the publisher, it's actually relatively light on dam propoganda aside from a chapter at the end. We found a copy of this book in a tourist store near the dam information center. You may be able to track it down through by contacting CTGPC.

River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze by Peter Hessler. This is a great book describing Peter's two years living and teaching English in the City of Fuling. Although we didn't visit this city on our journey (it's the next ferry stop upstream of where we launched our kayaks), it provides a fascinating portrait of daily life in a city along the river. What makes this book so good is the fact that the author learned Chinese during his stay and developed several personal friendships that provide an interesting look at Chinese life. He is also an excellent writer which makes this book a pleasure to read.

The River Dragon Has Come and Yangtze! Yangtze! by Qing Dai. Collections of essays critical of the Three Gorges Dam project by one of the most outspoken critics of the dam.

Before The Deluge by Deirdre Chetham. This book chronicles the history and daily lives of people living along the river in the Three Gorges region. It describes in detail the extensive social disruption caused by the Three Gorges project and documents the reactions of local people to the changes.

A Single Pebble by John Hersey. This classic book was published in 1956 and describes a voyage taken upstream through the Three Gorges by an American dam engineer in a traditional junk. The book captures the work and lives of the trackers who used bamboo ropes to haul boats up through the perilous currents and rapids. The Yangtze we experienced was a bit different, with most of the rapids destroyed with dynamite and the trackers replaced with various kinds of engines.

The River at the Center of the World by Simon Winchester. This book documents the author's journey upstream along the entire length of the Yangtze River and includes anecdotes about the history of the diverse places encountered along the way. It was not a favorite, but does provide some useful information about the region.

Lonely Planet Mandarin Phrasebook. Neither of us spoke Chinese and this phrasebook turned out to be our most useful piece of gear. It is exceptionally well organized, remarkably comprehensive, and proved extremely useful in enabling us to communicate with folks. An absolute must for those planning their own adventure in China.

National Geographic Magazine September 1997. The cover story of this issue is the Three Gorges Dam by Arthur Zich, and the photos by Bob Sacha are some of the most impressive published images of the construction site. They spent six weeks working on this story by traveling along the river.

Challenging China's Yangtze. This Mutal of Omaha Spirit of Adventure video provides a detailed account of Ken Warren's attempt on the Upper Yangtze in 1986. Although they did not achieve their original goal, it's still a pretty good film of the expedition and some impressive whitewater.

Great Wall Across the Yangtze. A PBS documentary on the construction of the Three Gorges Dam.

Steve Benson
Ancil Nance
Bob Sacha