Shennong Stream is a left tributary of the Yangtze River, located in the Hubei Province of central China. Fed by tributaries some of which come from the Shennongjia Forestry District, the stream flows south, falling into the Yangtze opposite the city of Badong.
Originally the Shennong Stream watercourse consisted of a wild river traversing a tortuous alignment flanked by almost vertical limestone cliffs; however, since the beginning of the construction of the Three Gorges Dam downstream on the Yangtze, the water level has risen approximately 155 metres at the mouth of Shen Nong Stream.(Jin, 2006) The lower reaches of the Shen Nong Stream are presently a torpidly flowing river, most of whose previously scenic vertical gorge is now submerged. By the completion of the dam construction in 2009, a further 20 metres of gorge will be inundated. Shen Nong Stream is also known by its Chinese name of "Shen Nong Xi".
Features of Shennong Stream
On the border between Wu Gorge and Xiling Gorge is the Shennong Stream. Taking its rise from the main peak of Shennong Jia (the first peak in the center of China) and flowing through Badong County, it ultimately flows into the Yangtze River via the Wu Gorge. Cruising along the stream by boat, visitors will become immersed in the wonders of zigzagging watercourses, the primitive environment, the canzonet by the boat tracker, and the mysterious culture along the banks.
Unique Scenery: Along with the grandeur, elegance and danger of the Yangtze River, the Shennong Stream has its own unique scenery. It has four natural gorges - Chengnong, Mianzhu, Yingwu and Longchang-and each has unique characteristics.
Among the four gorges, Mianzhu Gorge is renowned for its danger. The riverbed is not only narrow, but also falls steeply. Over 30 dangerous shoals will challenge everyone along the 2.5-mile route. As you drift along this section, your heart will beat heavily, even as you feel reassured as to your safety by the skilled boatmen. Stalactites hang on both sides of the bank; be sure not to miss this scenery.
Yingwu Gorge is noted for its elegance. The evergreen vegetation along the banks remains beautiful during the whole year. Here, a gorge with flowers that blossom in all seasons and a fountain of three colors can be admired. The largest karst cave of Shennong Stream also lies within this section; The Longchang Gorge is one with a unique human landscape. The ancient and mysterious suspended wooden coffins and plank road are the highlight of the section.
Drifting along the Shennong Stream in small open sampans (called 'peapod boats' by the locals) is the unique method for viewing the natural scenery, the ancient village and the flavor of Tujia (the local ethnic minority). Before you take the sampan, an environmental protection boat will first take you to admire the marvelous scenery. Then you will change to the sampan (14 yards long and two yards wide), which holds ten visitors at a time, to experience another kind of feeling.
One sampan is usually steered by six boatmen who are local peasants. While appreciating the natural beauty and historic sights along the two banks, you can hear the songs from the rowers as they row the boat. When reaching the shallow-stream places, they will paddle in the swift-flowing stream to tow the boat upstream by the rope. This scene has made the drift a unique one compared to other stream drifts.
It is sure that the serene natural beauty, the local Tujia flavor, the brave boat trackers, and historic relics will make the trip a memorable one.
Reviews of Shengnong Stream
Exciting, Beautiful and Fun Trip in Small Wooden Boats:From our Yangtze river cruise ship, we were transported to Shennong Landing (a small boat dock on Shennong Stream) aboard a ferry boat. The views from the ferry boat trip along the Stream were very nice and the scenic beauty gets even better after we boarded the small wooden boats to go even further upstream.
Stunning scenery but a humbling experience too:A trip up the Shennong stream is simply beautiful, even after the rise of the water by 100m. Aside from changing the landscape though, the changes wrought by the dam include the destruction of life as the locals knew it. Now the men row tourists upstream for 100 RMB a day, which includes several hours walking to and from their homes on the mountain tops. Their ancient traditions and their farmlands have been lost. Getting back onto a luxury cruise at the end of the trip makes you realise how lucky you are.
Best excursion on Yangtze cruise:Very scenic sampan ride on an offshoot of the Yangtze as part of our cruise on President Prime. Probably the best excursion we did, and gave us more of an idea (in smaller scale) of what the three gorges would have been like before the dam. Amusing guide & some brilliant photography (including hanging coffins). Despite the dam being promoted as the highlight of the cruise (wonderful technology, but concrete does not quite do it for us), this was definitely the best for us. Three hours well spent.