Yarlun Tsangpo Grand Canyon

The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon undulates 496.3 km long, with an average elevation of over 3,000 m, and the down-cutting erosion reaches 5,382 m. It is longer than Colorado Canyon in the United States, the longest Canyon in the world. and deeper than Colca Canyon in Peru. The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon contains nine vertical natural zones, ranging from alpine ice and snow to tropical rainforests, so it is the place with the most complete alpine vertical natural zones in the world.

The Yarlung Tsangpo  Grand Canyon is a world-class scenic spot in Tibet and it is of the same significance as the Potala Palace and mount Everest. Used to be a treacherous canyon hidden in inner Tibet, it has been “rediscovered” today as a new and challenging tourist destination in the east of the world.

In the ancient Tibetan language “Yarlung Tsangpo” means the water flowing down from the summit. The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, covered with ice and snow, embraces the mountains and peaks in the Namchak Barwa Peak area. It constitutes a passage for the moisture from the Indian Ocean to the inner mountainous region which helps make the southeast of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau a piece green oasis.

The Grand Canyon has a total length of 496 km, ranking the first in the world. The average depth of the canyon is about 5, 000 meters, and the deepest point is down to 5, 382 meters, which is deeper than that of Kelka Canyon in Peru and Colorado Canyon in the US. The canyon area encompasses the Pailong Village of Nyingchi County, the Pai Village of Milin County, and the County of Methok. The marvelous tourist attractions include the Grand Canyon, the Great Yarlung Tsangpo Turning, the Peak of the Namchak Barwa, the Peak of the Chakla Phalha, the tropical forest, and the folk customs of the Menba and Luoba People.

The canyon boasts the most abundant and complex mountainous ecological type in the world. From the bottom at some hundred meters above sea level to the top of the Nanjiabawa Peak (7, 787 meters), there spread distinct ecological systems ranging from tropical to systems only seen in Polar Regions. The rare species include “the living fossil” -the fern erne tree, the moss, the Yunnan iron cedar, the giant boa, the Bangladesh tiger, the long-leaf tail monkey, and the bear monkey, etc. In 1994 scientists from the Chinese Academy of Science for the first time advanced that it is the largest canyon in the world, which has been evidenced later by GPS measures in October and November 1998. On the 10th of October that year, the State Council of China officially entitled it “the Yaluzhangbu Grand Canyon”.


The sophisticated stone wares found in the canyon (similar to those unearthed in the northern steep of the Himalayas) suggest that 5,000 to 8,000 years ago here was not only a habitat for the Tibetan ancestors but also an important passage to connect people on the highland and those from the low areas. Nowadays there still live thousands of Luoba and Menba people in the harsh roof of the world. The preservation of their traditional customs and cultures, such as their tribe totems, witchcraft, and religious rituals, is highly appreciated as a piece of precious living archeological fossils.


The Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon lies in the southeast of the Nyingchi Prefecture where the Himalaya, Tanggula, and Henduan Mountains join together. Starting from Milin County, it goes eastwards and turns southwards in the Namchak Barwa Peak, and then it goes further southwards until Xilang of the Method County. Around 496.3 km long, the canyon has an average depth of 5,000 meters and the deepest point of 6,009 meters. The average depth of its core section is 2, 673 meters. The biggest height difference on the single side is 7,057 meters and the narrowest part is only 35 meters. It is the No. 1 Grand Canyon in the world with a latitude of over 3,000 meters.

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