The Daning River, the largest tributary of the Yangtze River, is home to some of the Yangtze region’s most spectacular scenery, including the Three Little Gorges. The clear blue waters of the Daning sit in stark contrast to the silty brown hue of the Yangtze, and the scenery along the river alternates between sheer cliff walls, verdant hills and the terraced fields of the villages on the banks.
Often shrouded in mist, the cliffs along the river extend thousands of feet in the air. Karst caves along the cliffs hold one of the river’s most famous and mysterious relics: the suspended coffins of the ancient Bo minority group.
Archeologists don’t know how the wooden coffins were placed into the caves, some more than 1,000 feet (305 kilometers) above the river, but they suspect the action of placing the coffins so high was auspicious and a mark of respect for the dead. Since the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, the water level in the river has risen substantially, making it easier to spot the remaining coffins high up in the cliffs.