Three-River Source National Nature Reserve (Sanjiangyuan)

The Three-River Source National Nature Reserve (Three-River Headwaters or Sanjiangyuan National Nature Reserve) is the largest nature reserve in China and the most concentrated reserve of living creatures in high altitude localities. It is also the highest natural wetland in China and the origin of the Yangtse River, the Yellow River and the Lantsang River. This reserve is situated in south Qinghai Province, which is also the hinterland of the Tibetan Plateau.

For a long time, the Tibetan Plateau is named as 'Virgin Land'. However, due to nature and human activities, its ecological system gradually degraded and Three-River Source area in its hinterland also gets influenced. Thus, a Nature Reserve was set up to protect its eco-system and the wetlands, provide favorable living habitats for its wild animals and preserve its original physiognomy and unique natural scenery. This reserve was officially launched on August 19th, 2000. In January, 2003, it was upgraded to state level by the State Council.

 Ecological Resources

Three-River Source area has a typical alpine ecosystem. It nurtures many types of vegetation, such as coniferous forest, broad-leaved forest, bush wood, marshy grassland and areas of sparse vegetation. In this area, there are 3 types of plants under state protection (category II) and another 34 types under special provincial protection.

Besides the vegetation, 85 types of beasts, 237 types of birds and 48 types of reptiles and amphibians also dwell there. That is how 'Three-River Source' got the name, 'A Library of Alpine Creatures'. Many of the creatures are also under state or provincial protection, such as Tibetan antelope, wild yak and blue sheep.

Reputed as 'Origin of Rivers' and 'Water Tower of Asia', the Three-River Source Nature Reserve is also rich in rivers, lakes, glaciers and swamps, wet lands, etc.

 Nature Scenery

Mountains, waters, plants, animals and lots of other scenery form a wonderful and fascinating picture. Three-River Source Monument lying on the Tongtian (go to heaven) River is made from granite. There are two big hands on it which represent the Three-River Source is being protected by human beings. The characters on the front are titled by Chinese ex-president Jiang Zemin and the monumental essay on the back is written by another eminent person, Bu He (Ex-vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress).

Tongtian River, once named 'Yak River' is famous worldwide for being recorded in The Pilgrimage to the West (A famous novel in China). Nowadays, a bridge is built above it. On its south, there is a giant rock named 'Shaijing (dry scriptures) Rock'. It is said that Tang Priest (San Zang) and his disciples dried the Buddhist scriptures on this rock. Visitors may even see the characters on it.

Visitors may start the trip by using our virtue guide:

Admission Fee CNY 80
Tips Visitors usually enter Three-River Source Nature Reserve from Maduo County, Qinghai Province.
It takes about 10 hours from Xining city (capital of Qinghai Province) to Maduo County by bus.

- Last modified on May. 21, 2019 -
Questions & Answers on Three-River Source National Nature Reserve (Sanjiangyuan)
Asked by CHRISTINEM | Feb. 23, 2016 00:03Reply
Hello, how can one travel from Jiegu (Gyegu) to the Three River Source?
Thank you.
Answers (5)
Answered by Kora from FRANCE | Feb. 23, 2016 02:42

You can hire a private car from Jiegu Town to Yushu County Bus Staion first. Then take the bus route Yushu to Xining, and get off at Maduo County. I remember that the bus schedules are 08:30, 09:00, 12:00, 13:00, 15:00 and 16:00. After arriving, hire a private car to arrive at Sanjiangyuan National Park.
Answered by CHRISTINEM | Feb. 23, 2016 03:05

Thanks so much. Do you remember approximate travel times?
Answered by Kora from FRANCE | Feb. 23, 2016 03:22

The whole trip takes around 8 to 9 hours. :)
Answered by CHRISTINEM | Feb. 23, 2016 04:00

Thank you so much.
Answered by Danielea Castell from CANADA | Aug. 08, 2016 03:17

did you take this trip to the SNNR reserve? What was the purpose for your visit?
Danielea Castel
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