Locations: Multiple locations, Yunnan Province
The Three Parallel Rivers, namely the Jinsha, Lancang, and Nujiang, form together in an unmatched natural miracle, a geographical accident of the Himalayan orogeny that began 40 million years ago. Originating on China's Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, the three rivers are the upper reaches of the well-known Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween rivers. They flow 170 kilometers from north to south, through the high mountains and ranges of Yunnan Province-the Dandanglika, the Gaoligong, the Nushan, and the Yunling-side by side by side without converging. The shortest distance between the Lancang and Jinsha rivers is 66 kilometers; the Lancang and Nujiang rivers come to about 19 kilometers of one another.
In the 1980s, an official from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) found the three rivers running in parallel on a satellite map around 98-100 east longitude and 25-29 north latitude.
The Three Parallel Rivers area covers a total of 1.7 million hectares, comprising nine nature reserves and ten scenic resorts in Yunnan's Lijiang City, the Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, and Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture's. Located where East Asia, South Asia and, the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau meet, the area features unique alpine landforms and some of the richest biodiversity in the world.
In the arid, hot Nujiang River Valley, 760 meters at its base and 6,740 meters at Kawagebo Peak, there are snow-capped mountains, glaciers, valleys, alpine wetlands, forests, meadows, freshwater lakes, and rare animals and plants. The area has 118 snow-covered mountains in various shapes that are 5,000 meters or more. Scattered around these mountains are virgin forests and hundreds of glacial lakes.
Crystal-like glaciers extend from the top of the Kawagebo Peak, the main peak of Meili Mountain, to the forests at an elevation of 2,700 meters. These are reputed to be the rarest of monsoon oceanic glaciers. Monsoon Tibetan people regard Meili Mountain as scared, and no climbers are permitted on its face.