Adventure along the China National Highway 317
The 317 National Road is one of the most adventurous journeys in the world. The trip takes you through vast, open landscapes with majestic peaks in the heart of western China. The highway is infamously known for the bad driving surfaces and sharp mountain hairpin bends.
The road is 1.834 km (1,139 miles) long from Chengdu (the capital of southwestern China's Sichuan province) on the east to Nagqu (in the Chinese Autonomous region of Tibet) on the west through Danba and Chamdo. It’s mostly gravel which makes it a mud trap during the rainy season, and you will often come across thousand-car traffic jams stretching for miles. Many sections of the road are only single track, and driving long them in bad weather is a dangerous challenge to a less experienced driver. The ride is rather remote, so you need to be prepared. In case of a breakdown, there is very little in the way of passing traffic or inhabitants around, and no cell phone service in parts. Landslides and rock avalanches are also common along the route.
The route has humbled many egos. It’s not for the sissies and shouldn’t be attempted by novice drivers. It allows to admire the spectacular scenery and splendid nomadic culture of Western China. This is definitely not a Sunday drive. Drive with care as this is a mountain road with dangerous dropoffs. Rain, ice, snow and a host of other chilly winter challenges last for close to ten months making driving along this road a treacherous journey even for most experienced driver. The drive crosses more than a dozen mountains over 4,000 meters, high mountain passes, dozens of famous rivers, primeval forests, and passing numerous lakes, villages, and monasteries.
Due to the high elevations and exposure, the road is subject to strong winds and rapid weather changes. Be prepared for the cold and wind! High winds blow here all year long. There are many dangerous sections of road along the route, and oxygen is scarce in the high altitude, making driving even more of a challenge. The journey offers an exhilarating driving experience, with superb views. An incredible journey, an unforgettable experience. This is definitely one road trip that you want to record with lots of photographs.
Pic: ZZQ MORAN