Fabled in song and poetry, China’s Three Gorges are a series of riverine canyons that over the millennia have been cut by the force of the mighty Yangtze. The gorges — Xiling, Qutang, and Wu — span a stretch of the river that winds for approximately 120 miles, and is considered the most scenic part of the river. Vantage’s Extraordinary Wonders of China & the Yangtze showcases all three gorges during the four-day cruise portion of this deluxe journey.
As you cruise through its forested peaks and shrine-dotted cliffs, you’ll appreciate the sheer power of this river, which was known for its frequent and catastrophic seasonal flooding. In 1954, for instance, more than 33,000 people were killed when the Yangtze overflowed its banks over more than 75,000 squares miles. In the past 100 years, the flooding has claimed over a million lives.
That destructive power has now been harnessed by the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest (and perhaps most controversial) civil engineering project. How large? At one and a half miles wide by 600 feet high, the dam has created a reservoir that is hundreds of feet deep and 400 miles long. This reservoir will enable about 10,000 ocean-going freighters to cruise directly into the once-remote interior of China, helping to open the region to new trade. The hydroelectric power of the dam is also immense, producing the equivalent of 18 nuclear power plants.
But all this progress has come at a price: Entire villages were submerged, many of them rich with cultural and archaeological artifacts. More than 1.2 million people were displaced to make way for the project, not to mention the innumerable plant and wildlife species whose habitats were destroyed. While here you will tour the Dam and also visit the home of one of the thousands of families who were relocated to make way for the project – a rare opportunity to weigh for yourself the pros and cons of this historic undertaking. Get details on your full itinerary here.