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Brahmaputra River Expedition 2010: Navigating the Sky River

Brahmaputra River Expedition 2010

Navigating the Sky River: China Tibet – India – Bangladesh


We will be the first team travelling the entire length of the river of about 3.000 kilometers. I will be the expedition leader and Apal Singh will be co-leader.
Inflatable boats will be used for about 2.400 km, leaving another 400 km for trekking and transporting the boats over ground along its banks where the Tsangpo-Brahmaputra is impossible to navigate The expedition will take about 45-50 days and is scheduled to begin in October 2010.
This is the time of the year when the river carries a lot of water, helping us master the tricky passages with rapids and sand bars. The details of our route planning will depend very much on the tasks awaiting us along the way. Here is a rough description of the major stretches of the Brahmaputra in China, Tibet, India and Bangladesh: Tsangpo-Brahmaputra, called Yarlung Tsangpo in Tibet, is a trans-boundary river.
It originates from the Chemayung-Dung glacier and takes its source in a remote mountain mass. There is no way to navigate the river up here. The team will do several days of pure and challenging trekking through the Himalaya in this spectacular region that is known as the “roof of the world”. Then comes a long stretch, the river flows through southern Tibet from west to east at a height of about 4.000 m – a real “sky river”. It finally bends around Mount Namcha Barwa (7.782 m), the easternmost mountain in the Himalayan chain and forms the Yarlung Tsangpo valley that extends to the Indian border.
In India one can get easily confused because of the many different names given to the river. The Tsangpo-Brahmaputra or Yarlung Tsangpo breaks through the Himalayas in great gorges and into Arunachal Pradesh where it is called Siang. From here it makes a very rapid descent and is called Dihang when reaching the plains. Soon two other rivers, Dibang and Lohit, join it.
From this point of confluence, the river becomes very wide and is finally called Brahmaputra. It flows southwest through the Assam Valley as Brahmaputra and south through Bangladesh as Jamuna. In Bangladesh the Brahmaputra merges with the Ganges and forms the world’s largest delta (42,000 km²), the Sunderbans, emptying into the Bay of Bengal. This region is known for its mangroves and rich wildlife, e. g. tigers and crocodiles live here.
For this challenging project we are looking for support, sponsors, crew, media and help. If you are interested or have some good input, please get in contact with me.

Andy Leemann.