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River climbing, river trekking or mountain stream climbing is a form of hiking or outdoor adventure activity, a traditional sport in Japan and popular in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and, in some ways, similar to canyoning or canyoneering. River trekking is a combination of trekking and climbing and sometimes swimming along the river. It involves particular techniques like rock climbing, climbing on wet surfaces, understanding the geographical features of river and valleys, knotting, dealing with sudden bad weather and finding out possible exits from the river.
River trekking in different countries
Japan and Taiwan are the most popular destinations for this sport.
The most famous 100 mountain streams to climb in Japan can be found by looking up 百名谷.
This sport is popular throughout Taiwan, where it is generally called river tracing (溯溪). The Hualien and Yilan areas are the most popular destinations for river tracing.
There are many interesting outdoor activities near Hualien City. River Tracing is one of the most coolest and exciting activities among Taiwan people. Professional river tracer starts from the end of the river to the start. Several wildness survival skills are needed such as rock climbing, siwmming and camping.However, it won't be so tough for beginner of river tracing because every river has its level of difficulty. For beginners, we always choose the easier and relax one, which take half day to complete. With safety equipment and experienced coach, you can enjoy the crystal-clear stream when walking upstream. And you have to swim over it when encounter a deep pool and climb over it to conquer a waterfall. With life vest, a non-swimmer can do river tracing as well.River Tracing is an experiencing tour which you can directly feel the natural instead of just sightseeing. In addition, there are always tranquil and amazing scene ahead just next turn in the stream. If you would like to experience the most popular outdoor activities among Taiwan people, River Tracing would brings you an unforgettable summer.
Nine Big Rivers
The Nine Big Rivers (九大石澗) are the nine rivers that are most popular among river trekkers in Hong Kong. The Nine Big Rivers include:
|Tai Shing River||大城石澗||in Tsuen Wan|
|Wan Chung River||橫涌石澗||in Tai Po|
|Ng Tung River||梧桐石澗||in Tai Po|
|Wong Lung River||黃龍石澗||on Lantau Island near Tung Chung|
|Sheng Luk River||雙鹿石澗||in Sai Kung|
|Man Cheng Po||萬丈布||in the west of Lantau Island|
|Lotus River||蓮花石澗||in Tai Lam Country Park|
|Ngon Sam River||昂深石澗||on Lantau Island near Great Buddha|
|Ping Nam River||屏南石澗||close to the border between Hong Kong and mainland China|
In the Philippines, River Trekking is just gaining its popularity especially with the introduction of Mapawa Nature Park in Cagayan de Oro in Mindanao on one of their must-do activities. There are five challenges in the river which includes swimming, rapelling, jumping and sliding among others.
The particular nature park was featured on GMA 7's now defunct reality show Extra Challenge.
The South African version of river trekking is called kloofing and has gained a similar following from both an informal recreational and commercial point of view.
Rating of difficulties
As river trekking has a certain level of risk, experienced river trekkers or hiking groups have developed rating systems about difficulties on different rivers. The ratings usually are various from 1 to 5 stars, even though a few rivers can be more than five stars because of their extreme difficulties. Such ratings are largely subjective, depending largely on river trekker's own experience. Therefore, different people or hiking groups would give different number of stars on the same river. According to Hong Kong Adventurer, an English Website about hiking and river trekking in Hong Kong, difficult scale of different rivers as:
|Number of stars||Description|
|1||can be handled by normal healthy persons|
|2||not too easy|
|4||difficult, absolutely not for beginners|
|5||very difficult, very demanding in term of strength and skill|
Risk and danger
River trekking has certain level of risk. There are occasional accidents in river trekking, including falls from steep cliffs or waterfalls, drownings, exhaustion, or getting lost. Risks that should be prepared for include the following:
First, sudden changes in weather, like rainstorms, can cause rapid rises in water levels and speed in the river. Also, the number of viable paths and climbing areas inside the river valley could be reduced suddenly in a very short period. Besides this, bad or misty weather would also cause low visibility. Low visibility may come in too quickly for trekkers to adapt to. Therefore, a torch (flashlight), preferably a head-mounted one, is a must for river trekking.
Second, steep cliffs inside river valleys require a certain level of rock-climbing skills. However, because of the humid environment inside the river valley, some rock surfaces can be very wet and some rocks can be very loose despite appearing solid. To deal with such wet climbing conditions, a pair of professional river-trekking boots are strongly advised.
- Geography of Hong Kong
- Country parks and conservation in Hong Kong
- Environment of Hong Kong
RiverClimb.com is a website dedicated to sending out English information about sawanobori to the world.
- HK adventurer, an English website about hiking in Hong Kong includes many river trekking routes
- 越野雄心, a river trekking website (in Chinese) http://www.wildconqueror.com/web/outdoorriver/river.htm