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4 Days Three Gorges Dam Photography Tour

Majestic Gorges & Dam


The Three Gorges or the Yangtze Gorges refer to the scenic area along the Yangtze River, and the world’s largest hydropower project dam – Three Gorges Dam, which is located in the Three Gorges area. The length of the whole scenic area is 193km. Besides the grand and enchanting scenery along the Yangtze River, you can also visit many historical and cultural sites in the Three Gorges.

The Three Gorges are made of Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge. Each gorge shows different sceneries: Qutang Gorge is magnificent; Wu Gorge is beautiful; while Xiling Gorge is dangerous. Photography in Three Gorges is a great chance to face the longest river in China personally and witness the one of China’s greatest man-wonders.

This Yangtze River Three Gorges photography tour can be customized depending on what photos you want to take, and on the weather condition when you go. Feel free to tell your interests and ideas to your personal travel consultants!

Basic Photography Info

Travel Route: Chongqing / Yangtze River / Yichang

Travel Length: 4 Days

Tour Code: CD-PTTGT-04

Tour Type: Private Tour

Departure: You Choose (you may plan it according to the best season and time.)

Itinerary Details Day by Day

Day 1 Chongqing (L)

Welcome to Chongqing, the Mountain City! Clear the customs and retrieve your baggage by yourself upon arrival, be greeted by our tour guide in the Arrival Hall who is holding a sign on which says your name; transferred by your private car/van and begin today’s sightseeing.

First, you’ll visit Chongqing Zoo. This is a rather specific zoo since some very rare species can be seen there. Besides tigers and Golden hair monkeys, there are also both Giant and Red Pandas together with their cubs. After the zoo, the tour goes to the Eling Park to have a birds-eye-view of the whole city. It is one of the old private gardens in Chongqing, built in late Qing Dynasty around 1909 AD. Then, you'll visit Ciqikou Old Town. It was Chongqing's old harbor and was once the home of many of Chongqing's rich merchants, where you can still see lots of Ming and Qing dynasty architecture, local shops, tea houses, local Sichuan street performance and so on.

Then, you'll be transferred to the Cruise pier, and board the ship in the late afternoon. Your lifetime Yangtze River Cruise starts! (Note: the boarding time changes based on the cruise ships, season, water level, weather, etc.)

Day 2 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

In the morning, wake up leisurely and enjoy the gentle sunshine shining over the tranquil and beautiful Yangtze River. It will be colorful and interesting whether you decide to stay onboard or go ashore at river stops. 

Onboard you will enjoy different kinds of activities, like practicing Tai Chi on the boat’s sundeck, drinking a relaxing morning coffee, attending a Yangtze River history and culture lecture, or taking part in the Captain’s Welcome Party and evening shows. 

Next follow a local guide and make a shore excursion to Shibaozhai Pagoda, one of the “Pearls” of the Yangtze River. A gem of Chinese architecture, this 12-story, 18th century red wooden temple on the northern bank of Yangtze River is an architectural delight full of legends and beautiful stories. (Note: Comfortable shoes are highly recommended since there will be lots of stairs to climb up!)

Optional excursion: Take a shore excursion to Fengdu Ghost City for an extra fee. Called the “City of Ghosts”, it is endowed with mysterious stories about underworld and cruel tortures and different kinds of devils and Chinese demons. Entering this ghost city, you will find many statues of demons and vivid scenes of their perfidious activities. (Note: Once again, the visit to Fengdu Ghost City requires much walking and comfortable shoes are again highly recommended!)

Shibaozhai Pagoda
Day 3 Yangtze River Cruise (B, L, D)

Today you will sail through the spectacular Three Gorges while relaxing on the sun deck and soak up the breathtaking gorge scenery passing by as you drift through Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge respectively. 

In Wu Gorge you will take an enjoyable adventure to primitive Shennv Stream (Goddess Stream). Switch to a smaller boat to sail down this beautiful stream running in a narrow side gorge where you will have close-up views of high mountain peaks and hanging coffins on the steep cliff faces. After watching an entertaining music and dance show of local Tujia ethnic minority, sail back to your ship.

In the evening, you will enjoy the Captain’s Farewell Party as well as dancing show with all your mates onboard to spend a wonderful night.

Optional excursion: Take a shore excursion to White Emperor City for an extra fee. Located at the entrance of Qutang Gorge, this excursion offers the best viewing spot to appreciate the magnificent Kuimen Gate.

Shennv Stream
Day 4 Yichang & Yichang Departure (B, L)

After breakfast, you’ll begin to check out and disembark at Maoping Port. Today’s highlight is a morning excursion to Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower project, located at the middle of Xiling Gorge near Yichang. You will marvel at this gigantic dam from different angles, learn more of the background history of the Three Gorges Dam Project and enjoy the surrounding beautiful landscape and scenery. If you like, you can take an optional experience to sail through Three Gorges Dam Ship Lift, the largest and the most sophisticated ship lift in the world, which takes only 40 minutes with fresh insight into the dam project.

After the dam visiting, you’ll take the bus arranged by the cruise company heading to Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal for leave. Here you will be pick up by our local guide and escorted to visit Yichang Museum if time permits. Then, be transferred to Yichang Airport or train station for your flight or train to next destination.

Disembarkation Tips: No matter you take Ship Lift or not, you’ll check out and take your luggage away in this early morning. (1) Only dam visiting: you’ll take bus from Maoping Port to Three Gorges Dam for sightseeing, and then arrive at Yichang downtown around 12:30. (2) Dam & Ship Lift Experience: travelers who are interested in Ship Lift will first switch to a sightseeing boat to sail through the Ship Lift and then visit Three Gorges Dam Site. You’ll arrive at Yichang downtown around 13:30.

Departure Ideas: You can take flights from Yichang Sanxia Airport to Shanghai, Xian, Beijing, Guangzhou and Hangzhou, etc. Or you can take high speed trains from Yichang East Railway Station to Wuhan (about 2hrs), Shanghai (about 8hrs), Beijing (about 7.5hrs), Hangzhou (about 7.5hrs), Chengdu (about 7hrs), Guangzhou (about 7hrs) and more cities.

Three Gorges DamThree Gorges Dam Ship Lift Yichang Three Gorges Center Cruise Terminal

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Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam Three Gorges Dam Three Gorges Dam

Three Gorges Dam, as the largest of its kind in the world, is providing China with tremendous power generation and flood Control services. It will not only fulfill its utilitarian needs, but will also serve as a symbol of pride for the Chinese people. It is located in the areas of Xiling Gorge, on the Yangtze - China's rural heartland. The Three Gorges Dam towers 182 meters (600ft) high and stretches over 2.4 kilometers (1.5miles). The reservoir created by the dam will extend nearly 400 miles upstream. And the drainage area covers more than 1 million square kilometers, with an average annual runoff of 451 billion cubic meters.

Best Sites for Photography

Tanziling Observation Platform

Tanziling is the commanding elevation point in the Three Gorges Dam scenic spot. The observation platform is located at the top of Tanziling and it’s the best location to overview the panoramic view of Three Gorges Dam. The observation platform can be reached through elevators, and the length of the elevator is about 200 meter.

The Three Gorges Dam Ship Locks

The Three Gorges Dam Ship Locks is the largest navigation facility in the world at present. The locks are devices rising and lowering boats between stretches of different levels on Yangtze River. They are 280 meters long, 35 meters wide, and 5 meters deep, which are 30 meters longer than those on the St Lawrence Seaway but half as deep. The construction of Three Gorges Ship Locks is intended to increase river shipping from 10 million to 100 million tons annually, with transportation costs cut by 30% to 37%. The water level difference at the ship locks is a great scene to shoot.

185 Viewing Area

The name 185 Viewing Area is coming from its altitude – 185m, which is in the same altitude with the crest of the dam. At present, this is the closest viewing location to see the crest of the dam. Standing on the 185 Viewing Area, you’ll just feel the crest of Three Gorges Dam is within your reach.

Three Gorges

Three Gorges on Yangtze River are Qutang Gorge, Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge. Each gorge has its own unique scenery.

Qutang Gorge

Though being the shortest gorge, Qutang Gorge is the most spectacular gorge among China’s Three Gorge. Start from Baidicheng in the west and end at Daxi County in the east, Qutang Gorge is about 8 km long. It’s also the narrowest gorge of the Three Gorge. The widest part of Qutang Gorge is only 150 meters; while the highest mountain along the river side can reach about 1500 meters. Such combination make Qutang Gorge the most spectacular and magnificent gorge of all the Three Gorges. In Qutang Gorge section, several places are suitable for photography.

Qutang Gorge

Shibaozhai Pagoda is a 12-storey wooden pagoda located at the north river bank of Yangtze River. This is the existing biggest column-and-tie wooden construction in China. Baidicheng is an ancient temple complex which is located 8km from Fengjie County of Chongqing. In the temple, there are many ancient inscriptions and cultural treasures of Sui Dynasty and Tang Dynasty. This is great for cultural and history photography. Kuimen Gate is the background of 10 yuan note bill. Located in the west of Qutang Gorge, Kuimen Gate is the most spectacular spot. In autumn and winter, you can see mountains covered with red leaves at here. Baidicheng is the best location to shoot Kuimen Gate.

Wu Gorge

Wu Gorge is 46km in length and is famous for its delicate beauty. In Wu Gorge area, rock jagged mountains towering along the river side, and Yangtze River at this section is just like a zigzag art gallery, which is full of poetic charm. The most famous attractions of Wu Gorge are Wushan Twelve Peaks. Among which, the most beautiful one is Shengnv Peak. From November to the next January, the top of Shengnv Peak is the best place to shoot red leaves on Yangtze River. Beside the Shengnv Peak, there is Shennv Stream, which is reputed as the Original Virgin Valley of Yangtze River, where you could see extraordinary gorge scenery. Shengnong Stream is also a great place to see the beautiful and legendary gorges. Along the river bank of Shengnong Stream, you could not only see the mysterious hanging coffins, but also enjoy local sampan trip and Tujia minority culture.

Wu Gorge

Xiling Gorge

Name after Xiling Mountain in Yichang City, Xiling Gorge is the longest gorge (about 120km) among the Three Gorges. Xiling Gorge is famous for it’s the most dangerous gorge. The whole gorge area is combined with high mountains and valleys, dangerous shoals and rocks. Numerous Chinese poets had left with us many poems praising the Xiling Gorge’s natural scene. The world famed Three Gorges Dam is located at Xiling Gorge, as well as the Three Gorges Five-grade Ship Locks.

Best Season for Photography

The peak tourist season is from April to December. The Three Gorges in wet season is more beautiful than other time. Different season will show a different Three Gorges for you. In March, the spring has come back to the earth, and this is a season of romantic flowers. In April, the river bank of Yangtze River is covered by a tint of green, and Three Gorges at this time is full of vigor and vitality. While from November to the next January is the great time to shoot red leaves. At this time, the river bank will start to get red. Walk into the Three Gorges at this time, you will feel as you walk into a magnificent red leaves scroll painting.

Tips from Our Experts

1. Best way to travel

The best way to travel is taking a cruise ship. You can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Three Gorges, while don’t need to worry about carrying the heavy luggage and changing hotels almost every day.

2. Recommended equipment

Wide angle lens and telephoto lens are useful when shooting the grandeur of Three Gorges. Tripod can help to stable the camera when you shoot from a boat.

3. Weather notice

The weather on Three Gorges may be damp and fickle, please bring warm coat and rain gear with you. The wind is rather strong when the ship is moving, so don’t linger too long on the deck.

4. Shore excursion

In some attractions, like Shibaozhai Pagoda, Baidicheng and Shengnong Stream, there will be shore excursions. When you take the shore excursions, please follow closely with the guide and make sure you come back to the ship before the sailing time. Some attractions will charge a fee, so before you visit them, please check the details with your guide.

5. Living goods

Normally, the cruise ship will not supply disposable slipper and toiletries, please take your own slipper and toiletries with you. There are many mosquitoes and bugs in summer, please take some mosquito repellent water with you.

6. Transportation advice

Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport and Yichang Three Gorges Airport are the closest airports to Three Gorges scenic area. There are many fights between China’s major cities and these two airports.

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