Report by Hans Schaefer, April 2017. This report covers different hiking
routes in Yading.
Yading Nature Reserve
mountain area is located in western Sichuan in China, south of
the town Daocheng. This area is small but beautiful, with
three mountains around 6000m altitude.
Link: An excellent web
site about this area, maintained by Lobsang, probably a
There is a direct bus Chengdu to Daocheng which uses about 18 hours for the 600 or so kilometers. But because even the valleys in Yading are about 4000m high, you should rather spend a night in Kangding (2600m) to acclimatize. There are many buses between Chengdu and Kangding. The bus Kangding to Daocheng starts at 6:00 and uses 9 to ten hours. You may spend the night in Daocheng (numerous hotels opposite the bus station) or continue immediately. For the last 100 km to Riwa you need to take a minibus. Many drivers wait just inside or outside the bus station. Minibus to Riwa/Shangri-La costs 50 RMB per passenger. Daocheng is 3900m high, Riwa 2900m. If you feel trouble with the altitude, continue to Riwa!
From other places: If you come from Litang or from Ynnan province, minibuses may be your only option. The bus from Kangding passes Litang about 13:00, but it may be full.
There is a daily flight to Daocheng airport form Chengdu. In high season there may be other flights (from Chongqing and Kunming for example). The airport is at 4400m altitude. You should be sure you do not suffer from altitude problems going there. There is an airport shuttle bus to Daocheng. From there you have to use a minibus or taxi to Riwa. Be aware that flights may be unreliable due to weather conditions!
You may go to Chong Gu
monastery (3800m), 15 minutes, and then to the right towards
"pearl lake" at abut 4000m. This is a good acclimatisation
trip for your first day. There are boardwalks and stairs and
lots of people. If you like it more quiet, continue the path
up the mountain on the west side of Chenresig. You will meet
very few people, mostly Tibetans returning from their
pilgrimage around Chenresig (the "kora").
From ChongGu monastery you may take the park bus to Luorong pasture, about 6 km. In older references this park bus is said to be battery-driven. However I could only see (and smell) ordinary gasoline-driven small buses. They save you 6 km walking and 200m altitude. If you do not like this, you may use boardwalks along the river. A nice experience, as you will meet nobody or very few people.
pasture the further trip is well described at
Lobsang's site. Most tourists go to Milk Lake
(Njunaihai) and Five Color Lake (Wusehai). It is a three hours
hike up and maybe two hours down. Take your time unless you
are well used to altitude! You may continue to the first
col (4700m) to have the scenery for yourself and maybe see
mountain goats on your way. In June, the rhododendron here
will have flowers (white and blue). On your way down you may
also go back to Chong Gu monastery, using the boardwalk and
see wild forest, birds, animals and flowers. Below is a
picture from that walk with Chana Dorje in the background.
This trip will most often require two days, which means you need camping and cooking equipment.Many Tibetans do this trip in one day, some of them with babies on their back. But these people live at high altitude and go fast. Much faster than you! Read more at Lobsang's site about this trip and don't think you will use less time than he advises.
The park shuttle bus brings you down to Riwa. If you decide to
stay longer time, you may use the shuttle bus inside the park
for any trips. Your ticket will never be checked.
From Riwa take a taxi or minibus to Daocheng or towards Ynnan.
Minibuses wait at the park entrance and in town.
From Daocheng, buses to Chengdu and Kangding leave at 6:10. They pass Litang about 9:00 and reach Kangding at about 16:00.
I include a few pictures below.