Chongqing, another of China’s massive cities, is located where the Jialing River meets the Yangtze River (at 6,400km it happens to be the world’s 3rd longest river). I arrived into Chongqing early in the morning and would start the three day cruise to the Three Gorges Dam along the Yangtze later than evening. I had arranged the cruise through a hostel where I would meet four other intrepid Irish backpackers.

The reservoir that we would navigate from Chongqing that the newly constructed dam created is the largest by volume in the world. So large, the mass of the water it holds literally has slowed the rotation of the Earth by a small fraction of a second per year. The reservoir will have a final height of 91m above the original river level (175m above sea level) and will extend back up the river for 660km! In the process it has drowned entire cities and displaced 1.25million people, surely a project of this scale can only occur in China. Amazing to think what the locals have had to dismantle and move to higher ground.

I would spend time during the cruise with either the Irish travellers I met or a local Chinese girl named Wang who was in the same four bed cabin during the cruise. Wang was from Weihai in the north of China and was travelling around China to learn more about her own country. During the cruise everything was written and spoken in Chinese so it was certainly handy to have Wang there with me at times to translate.

With the creation of a reservoir of this size you need lots of new bridges with many of the older ones being submerged. During our voyage downstream we would see countless construction sites as the authorities build new roads, bridges and cities higher up out of the rising waters way.

The Three Gorges section of the Yangtze between Chongqing and Yichang is famous for its scenery; even appearing on China’s 10 Yuan note.  As part of the cruise you venture up the Wushan Three Little Gorges also called Daning River Three Little Gorges, which zigzags through the mountains with its towering limestone cliffs on either side

After 3 nights aboard MV Chang Hang Jiang Shan, we had made it down to the largest hydroelectric power station in the world - China's Three Gorges Dam.  The dam is over 2.3km long and 100m+ high, and is the most expensive thing humans have constructed on earth (the International Space Station being more expensive). During peak production, the dam can produce a staggering 22,500 MW of electricity from its 32 turbines. As well as producing electricity, the dam claims to have helped increase Yangtze shipping capacity and reduced the risk of floods downstream, but of course this all comes at a cost though. The National Geographic has an interesting article on the dam. 

At the conclusion of the cruise you’re dropped near the dam itself and can visit the viewpoint and visitor center, but don’t get too engrossed like I did as I nearly missed the bus to Yichang as I was 25 minutes late back from the viewing areas (cheers James and Micheal for making the bus wait).  A thoroughly enjoyable trip along the Yangtze, so obviously I highly recommended it if you’re experiencing your own journey around China! From Yichang, the Irish boys and I made our way by bus further downstream to Wuhan which also lies on the Yangtze.

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