Shennong Stream

Shennong Stream is a 60-kilometer tributary of the Yangtze River, originates in the southern part of Shennongjia Natural Reserve and joins the Yangtze at Xirangkou in Hubei’s Badong County.

Shennong Stream cruise is a special side trip experience of Yangtze River cruises. 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.

The banks of the Shennong Stream have been inhabited since at least the Han Dynasty. Early history of settlement in the Shennong Gorge is evinced by the hanging coffins stowed in clefts on the high vertical limestone clefts; it is a puzzle to modern man as to how the heavy coffins were stowed on such steep, ostensibly inaccessible places. Some of these coffins can be seen presently from canoes traveling along the Shennong Stream. Most commonly a coffin rests on two sturdy hewn poles that have been wedged within limestone cleft or cave to form generally level platform.

It is sure that the natural beauty, the local Tujia flavor, the brave boat trackers, and historic relics will make the trip a memorable one.