Canyoneer Worldwide

Richard Fisher


“Richard Fisher is one of the very few who has photographed the canyons of West Clear Creek. He has led groups of handicapped and disadvantaged youths on hikes through their rock-strewn lengths, swam their emerald pools, and poked cautiously into all their dark and secret places. This special photographic feature provides but a small selection of his best works. We think you will be properly impressed.”
- Gary Avey, Arizona Highways, June 1983

Nearly my whole life I have been cultivating that “SENSE OF WONDER”:
The feeling of awe and reverence through observing the Inner & Outer Universe.

I want to share that there is great Mystery, Wonder and Power yet in this Earth of ours and ourselves now, in the 21st century. Now in turn caring for and educating others in the wisdom that we have gained through the study of nature and native cultures is a value to be passed on from generation to generation.

“The best explorers are seldom as brilliant as they appear years after their death. In the earthly excursions that established their fame, they often stumbled, miss calculated distances, ….and sometimes suffered the ridiculed of those who stayed home with the dog…. But for most of these adventurous souls, there are other rewards, the deepest of which remains vague… Rick Fisher, a guide to Arizona’s Mogollon Rim Country might put it this way…”
- Sam Negri, Arizona Highways, March 1984

Approaching 200 tons of food grain delivered to the Sierra Tarahumara 1994-2012.

Imagine that you had the opportunity to study the ways of life in the Kara Kash Canyon of Tibet, the Blue Nile of Ethiopia and the Copper Canyon in Mexico, and that these lessons allowed you to unravel the most enduring archaeological mystery in North America, that of the Chaco Canyon Anasazi in New Mexico. Imagine that armed with newly available topographical maps of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Canyonlands, you are able to find, for the first time, Geronimo’s lost Chiricahua Apache stronghold in the Sierra el Tigre, Sonora.

Imagine that you become blood brothers with the legendary Ruramuri Indian ultra endurance runners and sponsor them as the first-ever championship Tarahumara racing team.

1992-1996 sponsored and coached the first and only Tarahumara International Racing Team. Winning 7 of 11 and setting records in 3 highly competitive Ultra Marathon Races. Feature articles were published in dozens of newspapers and magazines worldwide, including:

Runner’s World December 1993, People Magazine October 1995, Esquire Magazine November 1995, Newsweek International August 2002.

Powerfully moving mysterious ceremonies and “Lost Apaches” of the Sierra Madres are part of Fisher’s in-depth lifestyle with the most remote and traditional Tarahumara at the end of the 20th Century. This is a people, a land and cultural time period that is now lost.

Imagine that the skills learned in extreme canyons lead you to be the first person to successfully photograph Earth’s largest crystals, in a hellishly hot and wet mine, deep in the mysterious Sierra Madre.

Front cover model and photographer for the DISCOVER MEXICO Magazine January 2001.

First international publication of the discovery of the largest crystals on Earth.

“Fisher’s emotions raced from awe to near panic”
(When being the first to successfully photograph the Cave of the Crystal Giants
wheretemperatures rise to near 150 degrees)
- John Ross, Smithsonian, April 2002 & Readers Digest, September 2002

“Explorer Richard Fisher, who spearheads food drives of the local Tarahumara Indian tribe, recently became the first American to visit and photograph the amazing geological formations.”

“When I am in the Mexican cavern, it’s like I’ve entered a magical kingdom’ says Fisher, ‘
an acknowledged expert on exploring and photographing canyons”
- National Examiner, June 11, 2002

This web chapter presents the possibilities of such truth and beauty, in both the natural and artistic world, as is humanly possible for me to produce. I have always believed that these beautiful places should be graced by beautiful, healthy people. In a balanced world, women and children are God’s truly heroic action figures.

This is what I did with the opportunities that presented themselves to me in these unique and historical circumstances. Produced here is the first and only web presentation on all the deepest canyons worldwide. I hope you enjoy and benefit from this panorama of canyons as much as I have. It is my hope that by sharing my experiences, this ancient wisdom learned will not be lost to time, like tears to rain.
- Richard D. Fisher, June 2006

“These are major, spectacular canyons, and because of the terrain, your chances of seeing another person are just about nil,” Fisher says. ” In some respects, these extreme canyons are all that left of true wilderness.”
- Douglas Kreutz, Backpacker Magazine, September 1987

First Descents by Raft
1994: Yarlung Tsangpo River, Tibet, Class 6; 1988: Upper Rio Conchos, Mexico, Class 5;
1987: Upper Rio Aros, Mexico, Class 4-5; 1986: Barranca de Sinforosa, Mexico, Class 6.
1986: Barranca de Urique, Class 4-5.

Solo Raft Descents (no back-up party)
1991: Yampa, Class 3; 1991: Middle Fork Salmon, Class 4;
1991: Cross Mountain, Class 4; 1991: Middle Box Gila, Class 4;
1984: West Water Canyon, Class 4; 1984: Grand Canyon, Class 4-5;
1984: Upper Upper Salt, Class 4-6; 1983: Dolores River, Class 3-4;
1983: Green River, Deso-Gray Canyons, Class 3; 1983: San Juan River, Class 3;
1983: West Water Canyon, Class 4.

Multiple Party River Expeditions
1991: Led Grand Canyon Rafting Expedition. Captained 13 foot – four person paddle raft, Class 4-5;
1986-1987: Gates of Ladore (3x), Class 3; 1986-1987: Green River, Deso-Gray (4x), Class 3;
1986-1987: West Water (4x), Class 4; 1986-1987: Upper Upper Salt (4x), Class 4-6;
1985-1986: Salt River (3x), Class 3-4; 1984: San Juan (4x)
– Led “Blind Children Rafting Expedition” and documented it for National Geographic World magazine.

“Compared with the number of adventurers who find themselves compelled to stand on a mountain summit, those drawn to the floor of the canyon are few. Rick Fisher is one of the few.”
- Robert Sullivan, Sports Illustrated, May 1988

Flip Lava Falls, Grand Canyon. It is said there are captains
who have flipped and those who are going to flip.

“RICHARD FISHER is a name synonymous with canyons.”
- Sierra Club, 1988

“Lost Horizon: Let others climb mountains and define adventure as conquest, explorer Richard D. Fisher is drawn to hidden canyons like the Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge in Tibet for what they reveal about life, mystery and the meaning of sanctuary.”

“Somewhere in the misty folds of the Tibetan Himalaya, explorer and photographer Richard D. Fisher found what he spent years looking fore – the World’s Deepest Gorge.”
- David Ferrell, LA Times, March 8, 2005

“For many years, the Yarlung Zangbo in eastern Tibet was known to be among the deepest valleys in the world. Its inaccessibility meant that its depth could not be directly measured—until 1993, when, after 10 years of trying, explorer Richard Fisher obtained the permits needed to visit the area. British botanist Francis Kingdon Ward explored the Yarlung Zangbo at the beginning of the century, but no other Westerners were able to do so until Fisher
led his expedition there.”
- Guinness Book of World Records, 1996

One day, as a boy of 16, I discovered that if I could find water in the hidden canyons, I could enjoy and learn from nature year round in Arizona hot deserts. In a revelation in the late ’70s I realized that many of the most fantastic canyonlands in Arizona and Utah had never been professionally photographed— and, in the ’80s and ’90s, that this was true of canyons world wide. This opened up a career of incredible cultural, geographical, and historical discoveries. I found my vocation during my college years when I discovered the Tarahumara Indians in the nearby Copper Canyon of Mexico’s Sierra Madre who still ran races of more than one hundred miles, outlaw cowboys riding tough mules who made their living by growing hemp, and woman who still made their daily bread by hand. This was
the life for me. I eventually experienced this lifestyle in canyonlands worldwide and brought the stories home to be shared.

Free climbing and canyoneering in Salome Canyon, Central Arizona.

Entering a mystical realm of reality in spectacular granite canyons, Mogollon Rim.

“You promised” I accuse, “no serious climbing” A grin is the only reply I get from Canyoneering expert Rick Fisher.
- R.J. Stevenson, Adventure Travel 1989

My publishing career began in September, 1982, when the editor of Arizona Highways magazine contacted me on an urgent matter concerning my photography of West Clear Creek. This canyon was being considered for national wilderness designation by the U.S. Congress, and no one had any photographs at all. Following my article, the canyon was subsequently designated a National Wilderness Area. My career has followed this path on a national and international basis since. My objective since 1990 has been to document photographically the earth’s deepest canyons and record ancient tribal knowledge before these landscapes are lost to development and the native peoples absorbed as a journalist.

From my wild days with the Tarahumara Indians and Chaco Anasazi archaeological research adventures in the deep Sierra Madre of Mexico.

Beginning in the American Southwest, I expanded into the extensive canyonlands of Mexico, Bolivia, China, USA, Tibet, Greece, Ethiopia, Australia, Spain, France, Namibia, South Africa, Venezuela, Bosnia, Monte Negro, Corsica, and Crimea. While doing so, I have guided over 1,000 special people on five continents—deaf, blind, juvenile delinquents, Native American youth, and educational groups. Guiding, combined with photography, led to the publication of seven books, including Copper Canyon Mexico, and more than 100 articles in more than ten languages in such magazines/television programs as National Geographic, Outside, Readers Digest, Odyssey, Explorer’s Journal, Span, Geo, Newsweek International, National Examiner, Asian Geographic, Wired Magazine, GeoTimes, Explorer Magazine, Escape Magazine, Esquire, People Magazine, Men’s Journal, Asia Week, Summit Magazine, Runner’s World, American Way, Native People’s, Sports Illustrated, Adventure Travel, Real Travel, Backpacker Magazine, Journal of Arizona History, National Geographic World, Sierra, Arizona Republic, Arizona Daily Star, Arizona Daily Sun, Bolivia Times Weekly, Four Corners Magazine, Los Angeles Times, The Salt Lake Tribune, Dallas Morning News, The Oregonian, Tucson Citizen, Fort Apache Scout, Phoenix Gazette, NBC Nightly News with Tom Brokaw, PBS “Arizona Illustrated,” DBS Eye on Sports, and Smithsonian since 1985.

Exploring the World’s Deepest Canyons in China and Tibet 1986-2008

Adventures in Central Asian Canyonlands 1986-2012

I have been very fortunate to be the first American to explore the earth’s deepest canyon in Tibet; assist the canyons of the Mogollon Rim, like West Clear Creek, get National Wilderness Area designation; discover and sponsor the only championship ultra-long distance Tarahumara Indian racing team (and deliver over 150 tons of famine relief since 1992); to photographically document the largest crystals ever discovered, in Chihuahua Mexico; to reconnect the ancient knowledge of the Hohokam and the Anasazi of the Chaco Canyon to the scientific world of archaeology; and to complete the first comprehensive documentary of all of earth’s great canyons. I feel honored and blessed to have been “chosen” to make these six significant discoveries and/or additions to human knowledge. To be an explorer: one must imagine, conceptualize, recognize, document, publish, defend and ultimately survive the challenges of your critics.

The Wizard of Chaco – The Hopi tribe has identified Chaco Canyon as a place of “sorcery” and “not the Hopi way.” Richard D. Fisher has researched the Chaco Canyon Anasazi from 1995-2005 and based on new discoveries he has made in the remote Sierra Madre of Mexico, he discloses his findings. The Scarlet Macaw Clan from La Quemada, built large unique structures using finely dressed stone and large timbers throughout their 800 year migration. They developed Pueblo Bonito and the other large buildings at Chaco, stored grain in the smaller round rooms, made fertilizer from cryptobiotic soil, migrated to Wupatki, Mesa Verde and the Mogollon and eventually joined the related Scarlet Macaw Clan at Paquime and from there, disappeared from the archaeological record.

The “Wizards” of Chaco, Hohokam and Paquime did many powerful and mystical things such as: made fertilizer from plant material; fumigated and stored corn for long periods of time; walked and ran very long distances, often carrying very heavy loads; performed religious ceremonies on platform mounds (not in Kivas); and built huge beautiful buildings.

Their descendant’s like the Hopi, Zuni and Rio Grande Pueblos did virtually none of that.

I now call “them” and myself, the “Wizards of Chaco” as we have a secret knowledge that has escaped the notice of modern archaeologists, as well as, their surviving descendants of today. The point here is that, the Scarlet Macaw Clan were in many ways very different than the modern Puebloans and while those who do not understand them may call them “sorcerers,” I feel that the term “wizards” of secret, almost magical, knowledge of nature is a more accurate and descriptive term.

Richard D. Fisher has a B.S. in Education from the University of Arizona. As a freelance photographer, climber, river runner and wilderness guide he’s stacked up many first descents. He has dedicated his life to the preservation and sharing of canyons around the world. Rick has a daughter, Mariah Sierra Williams Fisher, and lives in Tucson, Arizona.

Fishers latest project is searching along both sides of the Tibet/China/Burma border for a lost tribe of pygmy’s. Now is his attempting to obtain genetic samples so these very rare people’s relationship to the rest of the human race will not be lost.

The search for “Dawi” the last of the T’rung pygmies of Burma and his return visit to his ancestral homeland in Tibet/Yunnan borderlands. Although much has been made of Dawi and his disappearing tribe of Tyrone pygmies over the years, very little science has been done in regards to this issue and virtually none if any humanitarian work has taken place on their behalf. The tribe now faces complete extinction if something is not done within the next year or so. We plan to go into northern Burma as that the political situation has stabilized to find and deliver aid to Dawi, “the last male Asian pygmy” deliver humanitarian aid and an invitation to visit his ancestral Tibetan homeland winter 2012.

Early in his career, Fisher explored all kinds of outdoor sports from cross-country skiing to scuba diving to mountain climbing. In 1979 he solo Orizaba at 18,800 feet the 3rd highest peak in North America.

He solo Aconcagua at 23,000 feet, the highest peak in the Western Hemisphere and the highest peak in the World outside of Asia. A 19 day climb with a successful summit ascent on January 14, 1982. After these experiences he decided that while canyoneering could be just as dangerous and technically challenging, that the exploration of canyons was certainly more pleasurable.

Over flight searching for canyons in Australia. Fisher has used helicopters in South America, Australia, and the Four Corners region of the American Southwest.

Top Four Hidden Escapes 2012
Venezuela – Angel Falls Tepui by helicopter.. Fly to the top of the mysterious “Lost Worlds” and discover Jimmie Angel’s lost Golden River, mysterious arches, and bazaar land forms. No tourists here.

Ethiopia – Tekeze Canyon Gorges. A new road crosses this incredible canyonlands and has yet to be visited by tourists. An incredible land of culture, history, wildlife, and red rock canyonlands in the heart of Africa.

Tibet/Burma border canyonlands- to definitively address the issues of the “lost tribe of Asian pygmy’s” in the Grand Canyons of southern Tibet, northwestern Yunnan and northern Burma.

Tibet/China – Takla Makan desert grand canyon hidden in the northern rim of the Tibetan Plateau. Discover the place that nobody knows where Tibetan Buddhism meets ancient Islam in a Shangri La valley set between some of the earth’s highest peaks. Perhaps discover the ruins of an ancient lost jade trading civilization reaching back to the era of Marco Polo.

In the early 1990s I did a photo project to document the stars throughout the spectacular Sonoran desert with it’s gardens of giant cacti. I also photographed arches with night sky back drops in Utah and Australia. The artistic photography never really caught on, although I was awarded the cover of Backpacker Magazine in May 1993 and an inside cover in Arizona Highways during the same time period. As the skies were dark during that time period and had virtually no jet stream over flights, the skies formed perfect tapestries of streaming colors with the foreground lighted by small campfires. This night star trails photography remains some of the most spectacular in the world today.

“Surely the darkness shall envelope me, And the light about me shall be night;
Even the night shineth as the day, The darkness is even as the light.
- Psalms

“The heavens are calling you and wheeling around you displaying their eternal beauties”
– Dante

“Like Dante, anyone who spends a lot of time in the wilderness… knows there is nothing as mysterious or compelling as the clear night sky.”
- Backpacker, November 1987

Contact Details:
Richard D. Fisher • • P.O. Box 86492 Tucson, AZ 85754 • 520-882-5341 •

Richard takes great pride and pleasure to introducing his daughter Mariah to wilderness, canyon, wildlife and cultural adventures world wild.

“Of course, Kool Papa! You’re our Kozmic Mystic Traveler who documents magical places right here on Earth, then reports back to “da peoples who really care” via your photographs & words & overall adventurous Spirit. You show us there’s still some Mystery & Wonder in this Earth of ours in the 21st century. So, carry on, kindred spirit. The world still needs more Light. Cheerz & Inner Happiness of a million suns.”

“Thank you for enhancing that Sense of Wonder by sharing your photographs and comments and observations as you traverse your own Inner and outer universe.
Appreciate it, bubba!!! Carry on, onward ‘n upward.”
(Thank you my friend and music mentor Dave “Kidd Squidd” Squires Oracle, Arizona USA
for contributing many of these creative words and sentiments featured through out this piece)

West Clear Creek first passage into altered states of a fabulous new realm of canyoneering worldwide for a lifetime 1980.

“While it’s true that each of us inhabiting the planet is an individual, unique in our own way,
some folks are more individualistic and unique than others. Take Richard Fisher for instance.”
- Lee Allen, Desert Leaf, November 2007

Grand Canyon USA by Canyon Lovers

Grand Canyon of the Colorado River Arizona USA Spiritual Adventure land for Children and Adults

by Richard D. Fisher with Maria Gates

Rafting the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River under your own power is a dream of a lifetime and long sought after technical challenge as well as spiritual goal. Hiking the side canyons like the Little Colorado River, Clear Creek, Deer Creek, Havasupai Canyon with almost uncounted other little known canyons, is a destination adventure in and of itself. After a life time of canyoneering world wide it is hard think of another canyon on earth with as much diversity, beauty or such ecstatic pure natural and creative pleasures. After viewing this web chapter of: can you agree?

Little Colorado River with it’s travertine blue waters at the with the Colorado River and the junction of Marble Canyon and the Grand Canyon itself.  One of the top 10 canyon places on earth.

Rafting beneath Navajo Bridge in our Grand Canyon USA

The dream begins as our little raft passes beneath the Navajo Bridge which crosses the Marble Canyon of the Colorado River near Lee’s Ferry in Arizona, USA. It is the only roadway crossing of the river and the Grand Canyon for nearly 600 miles  The bridge carries travelers to and from Utah and Arizona , also a key access point which includes the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Before the first Navajo Bridge was built, the only river crossing from Arizona to Utah was at nearby Lee’s Ferry, where the rafting trips are launched in modern times.

Travertine sky blue water swimmer.

The Little Colorado River is the main river draining the Painted Desert, eastern Arizona and even parts of New Mexico. The sky blue waters are made by a very high content of calcium carbonate which comes from the Kaibab and Redwall Limestones of the Colorado Plateau.

It is a mystical experience when raft trips pull in at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado Rivers. It was an experience that can hardly be surpassed in a life time, especially that of a life long professional canyon photographer.

My daughter Mariah had an epiphany in these magical moments of existence. Everyone in our rafting party was watching our etherial little fairy so she was feeling very shy as I gave her hand signals of where to walk in the river. She showed her temper a bit as  she exclaimed that she could not understand me over such a long distances. There was so much pressure on me as the location was mobbed by so many tourist from the big “baloney” boats. And our group was taking so much delight in uncomfortable our situation.  They were pressuring us to move on to so they could do some hiking further down river.

This was our one moment, the very special moment that I had stayed on  Grand Canyon rafting waiting list for over 10 years for.  And it was perfect, the light, the water color and my perfect daughter…a perfect beauty…in perfect nature. I waved Mariah over and she looked up at me with tears in her clear blue-gray eyes. I put my arm around her shoulders and drew her close to me. I whispered to her, do you remember how we used to do hand signals?  We haven’t done it for so long time. Can you remember now?  Yes, she whispered, I can do it. And then….she and I made one of the most beautiful canyon photographs ever.

Kayak Marble Canyon

Marble Canyon is one of the safest sections of the Grand Canyon run so here Mariah got her first chance to caption her own boat on any river. The inflatable kayak was paddled by an adult of lashed aboard one of the larger rafts in the few big rapids on the upper section of the Grand Canyon like House Rock and Hanse.

Vasey’s Paradise is watered by a spring that leaps directly from hole the north wall of the Grand Canyon. it is a precise example of where those looking for water on Mars should be searching. Using a flying drone NASA should fly through Valles Marineris, the largest and deepest know canyon in our solar system, and photograph both the north and south walls of the canyon. While it is unlikely that there are any waterfalls, it is very likely that there is liquid water seeping from deep (warmer) geological layers and that if there is life, it will have evolved in such water seeps. Both the concept of the water seep and attendant life are exampled perfectly here
in our Paradise Grand Canyon USA.

Clear Creek has one of the most fascinating water falls in the Grand Canyon.

The Bright Angle Trail originates on the south rim and is the access point at which those on a half canyon raft trip exit the canyon. Due to safety considerations and Mariah’s age of 12 years we opted to hike out rather than raft the more rugged and dangerous lower section of the river trip.

We hiked up the first section of the Bright Angle trail to the Tonto Plateau in the pre dawn darkness. At Indian Gardens  the first sun hit us with it’s early June force. We were so glad to have started in the dark. At the campground we ate a hardy breakfast and wet our shirts. With high spirits we started out in beautiful early morning but soon the sun became harsh and the climb grueling. We hit the “wall” several miles and about two hours below the rim. We stuffed ourselves with high calorie food to no avail.  Our bodies could just not absorb the calories fast enough to provide the energy necessary to “top out” comfortably. But with no choice we pushed on knowing that it would just get hotter as the day wore on. We made it over the rim about 2 pm and were so proud. This twelve year old had truly “done” our Grand Canyon.

In previous years I had led 3 trips down the “Grand”  Below Phantom Ranch begins most of the really big and the Colorado rivers most challenging rapids. Hermit is one of the very best…if you hit the biggest wave head on.

Inside Grand Canyon Deer Creek

Deer Creek is a stream that flows into the Colorado River from the north through a spectacular slot canyon in the Tapeats sandstone. I had really wanted to hike this incredibly narrow slot down to the head of the Deer Creek Falls that then plunges 150 feet from the cliff face directly into the river.

The same tree garden as seen from above in side Deer Creek Grand Canyon in the proceeding photo.

Lava Falls Rapid is often thought to be caused by the lava field that flows from the Uinkaret volcanic field. But this is not factually accurate. What causes the rapid is actually an out flow of huge boulders from Prospect Canyon into the the river, narrowing and constriction of the river channel, which increases the velocity of the current and added to the elevation drop which increases the turbulence and speed of the water to make on of the scariest run able rapids on earth.

Challenge Lava Falls Grand Canyon Rafting

Anticipating the big drop Lava Falls Grand Canyon canyon.

Two of the worlds leading canyoneers of the 1990′s, Jill Bielawski and Eric Manthey, challenges Big Lava.

Sink that cataraft in Lava Falls Grand Canyon USA

Taste sweet victory Lava Falls Grand, Canyon

Cataraft captin and crew riding high in Lava Falls

What a thrill to see, what a thill to do, what a thrill to photograph like this.  WOW, one of life’s biggest thrills, in the boat and out!

The Havasupai, an American Indian tribe is called Havsuw’ Baaja, blue water people, have lived in the Grand Canyon for at least 800 years. Havasu Creek and the little village of Supai is their homeland. The creek and it’s sky blue colored water is a major attraction for river runners. The creek stays about 70 ?F year round and the clear warm water often offers a welcome respite and swim from the cold muddy currents of the “Red” River.

Sourcing from Havasupai, Havasu Creek with it’s blue-green water has forged out an artistic side canyon to the Grand Canyon that flows into the Colorado River. Maria Gates Photography 2011

The mineral-laden waters of Havasu Creek create vivid turquoise color that flows into the Colorado River. Maria Gates Photography 2011

Spectacular travertine formations and walls meander to create the beautiful shapes of Havasu Creek. Maria Gates Photography 2011

Spectacular travertine formations and walls meander to create the beautiful shapes of Havasu Creek. Maria Gates Photography 2011

Havasu Falls is considered one of the most beautiful water falls in the world.  It is ever changing as new terraces are built up by the lime in travertine sky blue waters and then washed away by the occasional flash floods. This falls is about 120 feet high making it one of the highest in the Grand Canyon.

If you have never been there, it is a life time experience if one loves canyons, waterfalls and remote swimming pools set deep in red desert cliffs. If one comes down by mule from the rim or takes the longish hike up from the river it is forever worth it.

No matter if you are a child or an adult come to our mystical Grand Canyon again and again and experience your gift of life again and again in this paradise hidden deep in the earth.

Hidden Canyon of China’s “Lost Tribe” of Mystical Pygmy’s

Pygmy Grand Canyon Fairyland Yunnan China

by Richard D. Fisher

Developement is progressing very fast in the China/Tibet/Myanmar borderlands. After this summers “elections” in Myanmar and Chinas strong push for development in it’s far western provinces roads, schools, electronic communications, health care and tourism is reaching even the most remote corners for this long hidden land. The local people are very pleased with the “progress” as it brings them so many “befits” that so much of the developed parts of China and indeed the developed world enjoys from their point of view.

Remains of a glacial foot print base now a beautiful mountain marsh meadow in resplendent fall colors. Upper Nu Jaing River headwaters on the old road to Dulong Yunnan China.

Our goal now is to reunite what remains of the migrant Trung tribal group in Myanmar with their tribal fellows in the China border lands. The first step now is to make sure they are genetically in fact linked. We have completed the China side of the sample collection in October 2011. Now that Burma is finely opening up our next goal this winter is to visit Dawi on the Myanmar side of the extreme mountains and canyons lands.

Although much has been made of Dawi and his disappearing tribe of Tyrone pygmies over the years very little science has been done in regards to this issue and virtually none if any humanitarian work has taken place on their behalf. The tribe now faces complete extinction in Burma.

Our first objective is to immediately address his humanitarian and health needs as a human being. Our second objective is to work with him and his Tibetan tribal co-members to respectfully and with informed consent do basic scientific studies such as genetic testing. Additionally, we hope to gather as much of the history of Dawi’s family migrations during the last one hundred years and see if any of the other Qui-pa or Zhu Ru/T’rung remember or can relate oral history for the historical record. Last, yet most importantly, it is our goal to see if Dawi would be invited to return to his ancestral homeland on the personal invitation of individuals living there.Dawi has told visiting anthropologists that he does want to visit his ancestral homeland in Tibet “to find a wife.” Whereas nothing was done to help him reach his personal dream he may perhaps be too old to marry and have children now. It should also be noted that people from Burma visit the Tibet borderlands each and every day for trade commerce and medical care. We believe that if he decides to stay he will need formal paperwork and visas, etc. but we do have people who are qualified to address these issues.

If you would like to support this project please contact us at:
Wilderness Research Expeditions Ltd.POB 86492Tucson AZ 85754520-882-5341 Email:

Rare deep mystical forest of the most remote part of the eastern tail of the Himalayan mountain range.

The last village at the current end of the road which is driving north to Tibet very nearby and it is said on to Myanmar.

The last village and our first true pygmy. Still days walk north of the current road end. Mr. Sho La standing in the red trousers said he was just over 60 and healthy. He did not appear to have any genetic challenges like dwarfism or mental handicap common with these isolated people.

Mystified yet peaceful curious people meets their first not so tall western visitor maybe ever. Sweet spirited gelflings, hobbits or pygmy s…beautiful people by any name. Lady Do San is one of the several surviving tattooed woman living in this remote “pygmy” Grand Canyon.

All little people standing tall.

Sho La try’s his first tasty canned peach maybe ever? He did know how to eat it so I cut it up with my Swiss Army knife and stabbed the slippery morsel with a chop stick.

Wa–open wide Mr Sho La. Missing a few teeth looks like. But still happy and going strong.

Sho La volunteers some inside of the cheek cells to help identify his lost tribal brother “Dawi” of Burma.

Now Sho La the last healthy Dulong Pygmy is really happy as he shows off his trusty crossbow. He shot both of the chop sticks I brought with me far into the bush. I can tell you he really had fun that morning and he it showed it! And I forgot all my discomfort from the rough frontier life and really enjoyed myself fully with my new found friends! What a day, at long last!

Lot’s af very little people abounding in this wilderness on the Tibet/China/Burma frontier.

Gelfling princess with ethnographic photographer Richard D. Fisher. October 2011

Progress and development rolling in fast. These people aren’t kidding around. They are pushing forward day to day. Every one seems happy as the local people get training and even the skilled jobs running the heavy machinery.

No messing around here. Drilling blasting holes high up on the cliff face.

Concrete blocks of progress…giddy up-mules!

The real deal for better homes and gardens in their view anyway. They sure work hard enough at it.

Now a just kidding photograph.  Old western guy modeling my drivers competition crossbow hand mad in China shirt and pants. The quiver has real boars tusk and wild mountain antelope hide. Hat from Tucson Arizona USA tops off the “high fashion” modern frontier look.

Ancient alpine forest now very rare in the most remote eastern Himalayan  canyons and ridges.

Last view upon leaving the enchanted fairyland of the “Lost Pygmy” Trung tribe. October 2011

Copyright California Academy of Sciences, photographer Dong Lin.

Above 3 photo’s from the “discovery” of the “Lost Pygmy Tribe” 2009

Beauty Queen of the Trung tattooed gelflng tribe.

Search for the “Lost Tribe of Tibetan Pygmies” 2009
Since his exploration of the world’s deepest canyon in Tibet in the 1990’s, Richard Fisher has been researching the existence of an unknown tribe of Mongolide pygmies in the tri-border region of China, Tibet, and Myanmar. Fisher has confirmed in 2009 that a unique tribe of pygmies, the T’rung, lives in the Dulongjiang Canyon of Tibet, hidden from the outside and unknown by the western world until now. Today there are over 5,000 T’rung people living in six designated villages within the canyon.

Formerly, the Taron (T’rung) tribe of Myanmar/Burma was scientifically defined as the only tribe of Mongolide pygmies after its discovery in the 1960’s. By the 1990’s, scientists claimed that the tribe was near extinction, having succumbed to genetic diseases. At the same time, Fisher had encountered families in the Dulongjuiang Canyon area that were extremely short in stature, yet otherwise perfectly formed humans. When he learned about the Taron pygmies in 2004, he decided further research was needed to learn if other similar tribes existed in the area.The T’rung are a peaceful people; they are increasingly educated, provided with basic health care (by who?), and as tribes across the world have done, are increasingly looking to and integrating into the outside world. The images from the Dulongjiang Canyon and T’rung people offer us a glimpse into an untouched and fascinating world most of us have never seen. Documenting the images and customs of this tribe is essential to preserving the history of these people. In recent years, the T’rung have begun to have more substantial contact with the outside world. In addition, the T’rung people are increasingly intermarrying with other ethnic groups. Time is of the essence to record the history and culture of this unique tribe. Not only will this encourage the sharing of human experience, but the micro-population of this isolated canyon also allows us to learn more about the process of human evolution. It is important to document this unique world and its people while we still can.

A. Project Background:

  1. The Taron Tribe of Myanmar/Burma were scientifically and officially defined in the 1960s as the only tribe of Mongolide pygmies. Special Report Series No. 1: The Tarons in Burma, the results of a scientific expedition by Burma Medical Research Society. Published in 1966, Burma Medical Research Institute (Rangoon), Contributions: Mya-Tu, Dr., Burma Medical Research Institute. One would be described as a common pygmy gene where individuals are less than 4’11” yet perfectly formed human beings. Other populations are equally small but display varying degrees of what can be described as dwarfism or hobbits.
  2. In the 1990s it was reported by numerous scientists, most notably Alan Rabinowitz, that the tribe was nearing extinction as there was only one male member left “Dawi” by name, who was young and healthy enough to have a family. The tribe had succumbed to genetic diseases originating from inbreeding which is common in remote and isolate places like these rugged canyonlands of northern Myanmar/Burma (as reported by Raboniwitz). It was also reported during this time period that the Taron originated in Tibet where they had been driven out of by slave traders and conflicts with their Tibetan neighbors in the late 1800s.
  3. The Taron are a part of a more numerous and also diminutive group known more widely as the Rawang (by P. Christiaan Klieger 4/09 and Alan Rabinowitz 2001) people. This is very similar to the situation in the Congo where defined pygmies are surrounded by a slightly taller tribe into which they sometimes marry.
  4. In the 1990s Richard D. Fisher noticed, as the first American to explore the world’s deepest canyon in Tibet, some individual families who were exceptionally small. Fisher assumed that this was a result of poor diet, inadequate food and also the extreme canyon environment which worldwide favors small agile people.
  5. In 2004 Fisher was invited to speak at a Texas Explorers Club meeting where he met a fellow explorer Brenda Shaddox who specialized in Myanmar/Burma who related the story of Dawi and the Taron Pigmies.
  6. After 5 years of research Fisher decided it was time to find out that if indeed there were Pygmies in the borderlands of Tibet/China/Myanmar.
  7. Fisher’s findings from 2 expeditions in April and May 2009 are:
    A. That yes, today there is a specific and specialized tribe in the tri-border region now known as “Dulong” people from whom the Taron are descended (Dulong= Taron= T’rung depending on your language. Dulong is Chinese and Taron is Burmese transliteration of T’rung). These people have for hundreds of years been recognized as a separate culture and especially small people. Prior to the 1950s they were known as the as the Qui-pa ethnic group in China and Tibet (I have been told that Qui-pa is a derogatory modern Chinese term. Monpa would be more accurate for Tibetans). Formerly they had strife with their neighbors especially over the capture and enslavement of their women by larger and physically more powerful neighbors. This is one of the reasons given for the tradition of face tattooing among the Qui pa women up until the 1960s.
    B. The name of these people depends on the language group that are describing them. I feel that perhaps they are best called T’rung. Today there are over 5,000 T’rung people living in the Dulongjiang Canyon which is 3,804 meters or 12,480 feet deep, more than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA.
    C. Within this area there are 6 designated villages, 838 households and 5,600 adults and many healthy and lively children as well.
    D. The canyon environment is diversified with many micro climates from subtropical rain forest to mountain tundra and there are a number of small glaciers remaining in the surrounding highest peaks. The forested region is still 97% intact with old growth trees predominating from the frigid alpine fern forest down to the tropical jungle through which runs a pristine and sparkling sky blue river.
    E. Historically the T’rung people have mostly kept themselves apart from the outside world as well as their nearest neighbors. Today they a peaceful and happy people who are increasingly educated, provided with basic health care, and are now as all native people worldwide, looking to and integrating with the outside world.
    F. Many T’rung also are living the old ways which are fascinating with many unique traditions. (I will elaborate more later) One of the most interesting customs was discontinued in 1966 is face tattooing of women. As of 2003 there were 60 women remaining who have face tattoos averaging 71.9 years old with the oldest being 108 years old. I was able, with permission, to photograph 4-5 of these matrons which to my surprise were very beautiful as well as animated. One tattooed lady I hiked along side of and photographed was carrying a burden basket heavier than 50 lbs. over 6 miles and she reported she was in her 80s.
  8. 8. Until the 1960s all T’rung pygmies had a nature based religion including bull sacrifice, praying for no flooding when they see fire in the sky and the god of good hunting. Today many T’rung are Pentecostal Christian yet retaining many of their beliefs on the forces of the natural world.
  9. 9. All that were interviewed report that they knew of no twins, that they normally lived to 70-80 years old, and that they are agriculturalists thriving on corn, vegetables, cattle, a few goats and pigs, and many chickens.

Why are T’rung “undiscovered” pygmies?

The western scientist who defined the Taron as pygmies in Burma did not look to this ethnic group’s historical roots in Tibet to see if there were others, because Tibet and parts of western China were “closed areas” until the past decade. Fisher was the first American to enter and publish on many of these vast canyonlands starting in 1987 most particularly the Yarlung Tsanpo where the issue of a lost Tibetan Pygmy tribe first came into question.

C. While Chinese ethnologists have long recognized the Dulong or Qui-pa people as exceptionally physically small and indeed a unique separate culture, they have never, until May 14, 2009, considered the issue that they might actually be pygmies. Why is this discovery important?Opening communications and dialog between the east and west is always an important goal for human understanding and knowledge.

  1. The T’rung people are increasingly intermarrying with other ethnic groups. Right now the time is critical to the human understanding of many aspects of shared human cultures, common as well as diverse histories and in this case the all issues relating to Pygmies and the quest for knowledge of human evolution.
  2. At the moment a scientific debate is raging about the findings of “hobbit” bones on the island of Flores in Indonesia. These new findings about the T’rung Pygmies may be of importance to this ongoing debate in many ways.
  3. Fisher’s proposal is that the canyonlands of Tibet/China/Myanmar are perhaps a hot spot of human evolution toward small nimble people, or on the other hand, a refuge for a human genetic line that will soon be lost in the mainstream of human “progress”. Both may certainly be true at the same time. Also in many ways canyons are like islands producing unique micro-populations of great diversity in plants, animals and perhaps humans as well.
  4. Such “findings” are fascinating to humans worldwide and make for interesting and readable news.
  5. The photography while being uniquely captivating and illustrative, is for the first time available to the IT (digital) universe.

D. On a personal note:

  1. I find it very interesting what these people are actually called or defined as. I found that while “Pygmy” is scientifically accurate, that “hobbit” may apply to the inbreed Taron group in Myanmar/Burma, that the best term that applies to my observations is “gelflings” after the imaginative “Dark Crystal” fantasy by Jim Henson.

Richard D. Fisher

Entering a mystical portal and down into a hidden land Spring 2009

Down to the sky blue river.

The lost pygmies of Tibet and their hidden mystical canyon. Spring 2009

Canyons and Caves of Vietnam and Laos

Exotic Canyons, Caves and Cultures of Indochina

Text and photography by Richard D. Fisher with photography by Maria Gates

Sapa Vietnam, Gateway to the Grand Canyon of Vietnam, is approached from the north from border town of Hekow China, a 5-7 hour bus ride south of Kunming Yunnan, Hakou is a tropical place hot and humid in the summer and very pleasant and dry in the winter.  Hekow is a relatively clean border town reflecting the modernization and relative wealth of the “New China”.  From the south Sapa is approached from Hanoi to Lao Cai by train (9+ hours) and then a spectacular 1-2 hour bus or private car ride up the mountain to the comfort of Sapa.

Fansipan Peak (3134 meters-10,308 feet) is called the “Roof of Indochina” dominates the view from Sapa but few see the canyons that are hidden in the mountains and rugged terrain on all sides.  The exact extent of the “Grand Canyon of Vietnam” is still to be determined but preliminary results reveal that the low elevation is about 1000 meters making the canyon about 6,000 feet deep, roughly the size the Grand Canyon of the Colorado in Arizona USA.

On my two visits to the area weather was a big factor for my exploration and photography. In mid-winter and early spring Sapa is very often fogged in completely for weeks at a time and in the summer monsoon rains create incredible thunder storms and again, lots of foggy days. In the summer, however, I found some incredible sunny afternoons. Late spring late fall are perhaps the best times to tour this spectacular region.

Unexplored slot canyons like the one above abound in this region which host the Grand Canyon Vietnam.

Besides being the gateway to the Grand Canyon of Vietnam, Sapa is home to some of the most diverse hill tribes in S.E. Asia. Hmong and Yao groups are seen in the largest numbers but Tay and Giay are selling crafts as well. Until 1910 or so these tribal groups dominated the high mountains and deep canyons. After that the French stated colonization here due to the “healthy climate”  the precipitous lands were slowly dominated in turn by the French followed by the lowland Vietnamese (Kinh) and now by…tourist from all over the world.

This region is now protected as the “Phong Nha-Ke Bang”  National Park as recognized  by UNESCO World Heritage Site (2003).  This is a Limestone (Karst) geological topography abounding in caves and underground rivers (estimated at 300+) but also hundreds of  “slot canyons” many of which are still unexplored. This is an extension of the famous Annamite Range which runs south along the Laos-Vietnam border for hundreds of kilometers. This is one of the two largest Karst/Limestone regions on the planet Earth. Technically the limestone is from the Palaeozoic era some 400 million years ago.

I stayed in several hotels in Sapa prices ranging from 8-30 USD per night, but I recommend the 3 Star Holiday Sapa due to their English speaking staff:

Holiday Sapa
16 Muong Hoa St.
Lao Cai Vietnam
(84) 203-873-874

Traveling south from Sapa one can visit Dien Bien Phu the township where the native Vietnamese defeated the colonial French colonist in a 6-7 hour private hire car or a 10-12 hour bus ride. This drive is overflowing with conical Karst mountain peaks, small canyons,valleys rivers, agricultural villages connected with very winding narrow but mostly paved roads. From there one can cross into Laos or continue south to the coast and down to the town of Dong Hoi, the gateway to the most spectacular caves yet discovered in Vietnam. This region is now protected as the “Phong Nha-Ke Bang”  National Park as recognized  by UNESCO World Heritage Site (2003).  This is a Limestone (Karst) geological topography abounding in caves and underground rivers (estimated at 300+) but also hundreds of  “slot canyons” many of which are still unexplored. This is an extension of the famous Annamite Range which runs south along the Laos-Vietnam border for hundreds of kilometers. This is one of the two largest Karst/Limestone regions on the planet Earth. Technically the limestone is from the Palaeozoic era some 400 million years ago.

As exotic a system of canyons and caves as found anywhere in the world in the Central Vietnam Highlands.

It was a long and grueling 2 day bus ride from Dien Bien Phu to Dong Hoi gate way ti the cerntral highlands. There I found a wonderful small family style hotel specializing in catering and providing assistance to cave explorers and environmental researchers. The owners there provide by far the best service to anyone wanting to see world class caves, rivers, canyons, and wildlife in this spectacular region.

Sy and Nga Ho Van run the Nam Long Hotel:
Address: 22 Ho Xuan Huong st – Dong Hoi city- Quang Binh Province, Vietnam
Tel: (84-52) 821851 ; Fax: (84-52) 829774
Room rate: from 10-16 USD

Conical Karst peaks dominate foothills landscapes of central Vietnam north to Dien Bien Phu and starting near Sapa.

Phong Nha Cave
A wonder of recent historical importance, this cave played a key role in conflicts since the 1950′s as it provided an air raid shelter for the population north of the DMZ. The Son river actually penetrates into the mountain for over a half a mile and from the mouth where there are 14 chambers  and secondary corridors that branch in all directions which which served variously as a hospital,  living quarters and storage areas large enough for a small city. There are numerous natural features such as the Lion, the Fairy Caves”, the Royal Court and the Buddha seen on the daily tours.

This tour actually starts and ends with a half hour boat trip on the river with about a two hour walking tour upon sailing into the cave.

Thien Duong Cave

Also called “Paradise” cave this is a newly found cave in the National Park. Some of the most beautiful and spectacular stalactites and stalagmites in the Park are found in this cave. The cave has been leased to a private company which has done a good job in developing it by putting in professionally designed road access, board walks and lighting. This cave was opened to the public in early 2011.  This cave is about 70 km or 1 hour+ by private car from Dong Hoi on a paved road that winds through the rice paddies and into the mountains and canyons to reach the cave parking area. In January 2011 the entry fee was about $6 USD.

Son Doong Cave
This mountain river cave gained much international attention in the last year as it has been designated by National Geographic USA and the British Cave Research Association as the largest cave in the world between the years of  2009-2011.

Wildlife of the Vietnam NationalParks in the Annamite Range

The forest is also home to 98 families, 256 genera and 381 species of vertebrates. Sixty-six animal species are listed the Vietnamese in the Red List of Endangered species and are still found here in these protected parks.

In 2005, a new species of gecko (Lygosoma boehmeiwas) was discovered here by a group of Vietnamese biologists together with biologists working for the park, Cologne Zoo in Germany and the Saint Petersburg Wild Zoology Institute in Russia.The Gaur and one species of eel have been discovered in this park.[1] Ten new species never seen before in Vietnam were discovered by scientists in this national park. The Park is home to significant populations of primates in Vietnam, with ten species and sub-species. These include the globally vulnerable Pig-tailed Macaque, Assamese Macaque, Stump-tailed Macaque and White-cheeked Crested Gibbon (Nomascus leucogenys and Nomascus leucogenys siki). The Park is probably home to the largest population of Francois’ Langur in Vietnam, including two different forms of the species. The area is highly significant for its population of Hatinh Langur and Black Langur. It is undoubtedly the largest population of these species in the world, and probably the only population represented in a protected area. Other endangered large mammals include theMainland Serow (Capricornis sumatraensis), Giant Muntjac (Megamuntiacus vuquangensis) and possibly the Saola (Pseudoryx nghetinhensis). TheAsiatic Black Bear (Selenarctos thibetanus) and Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) are confirmed. Other smaller mammals include Sunda Pangolins (Manis javanica) and the recently discovered Striped hare, called locally ‘tho van’ (Nesolagus timminsii). Ten bat species listed in the IUCN List of Threatened Species have been recorded in this park.Of the 59 recorded reptile and amphibian species, 18 are listed in Vietnam’s Red Data Book and 6 are listed in the IUNC Red List of Threatened Animals. The 72 fish species include 4 species endemic to the area, including Chela quangbinhensis.

The park is home to over 200 bird species, inclusive of several rare birds such as: Chestnut-necklaced Partridge, Red-collared Woodpecker, Brown Hornbill, Sooty Babbler andShort-tailed Scimitar-babbler. There is good evidence for the Vietnamese Pheasant (Lophura hatinhensis) and Imperial Pheasant (Lophura imperialis) species at Phong Nha – Kẻ Bàng area. An initiative survey conducted by Russian and Vietnamese scientists from Vietnam-Russia Tropical Centre (funded by WWF) recorded 259 butterfly species of 11 families. Almost all major butterfly taxa in Vietnam can be found in the Phong Nha – Ke Bang National Park.

The Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park was recognized by UNESCO in 2003 and again in 2007 as a World Natural Heritage Site.

Son Doong Cave
This mountain river cave gained much international attention in the last year as it has been designated by National Geographic USA and the British Cave Research Association as the largest cave in the world between the years of  2009-2011.

It is so good to see that such good hearted people have survived the dark years and are living so happily in our times to be our host, guides and now friends. This lovely couple welcomes guest from all countries globally with warm and hospitable services and true comradeship as well.

Into Laos….
Feb. 13, 2011

Lao Bao, southwest of Dong Hoi and near Dong Ha in Central Vietnam, is a good border crossing to obtain a 30-day Lao visas (US$30) are available on arrival in Nam Phao. If one is traveling the other way to Vietnam from Laos, Vietnamese visas still need to be arranged in advance; available at the Vietnamese embassy in Vientiane. Due to the border crossing problems encountered there we opted to hire our friends from Sy and Naga Ho Van to drive us to the border crossing. From the Vietnamese side it’s a short walk to the Laos border. Once in Laos, motor bikes,  jumbo (three-wheeled taxis) and sawngthaew (pick-up trucks) are available to Lak Sao the first place with hotels and cafes. We were glad to be well rested for this part of the trip as it was a very difficult 3 day transit to Paksi the gateway to the Bolaven Plateau.

Pakse (also spelled Pakxi) was founded by the French in 1905 as an administrative outpost, Pakse sits at the confluence of the Mekong River and the Se Don (Don River). The town has doubled in size since construction of the new bridge across the Mekong in 2002, facilitating a tourist crossing as well as considerable trade into Thailand. Pakse is the gate way to the canyons of the Bolaven Plateau.

Bolaven Plateau
Is home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls and canyons in Southeast Asia. The geology of the plateau is igneous which contrast sharply with the Karest Limestone to the Annamite ranges to the north.

The area wasn’t farmed intensively until the French started planting coffee, rubber trees and bansidered strategically vital to both the Americans and North Vietnamese, as evidenced by the staggering amount of UXO (unexploded ordnance) still lying around. The slow process of clearing UXO continues, but in areas where it has been cleared, both local farmers and larger organisations are busy cultivating coffee (see Kąaféh Láo ). Other local products include delicious tropical fruits. The largest ethnic group on the plateau is the Laven (Bolaven means ‘home of the Laven’). Several other Mon-Khmer ethnic groups, including the Alak, Katu, Ta-oy (Tahoy) and Suay, also live on the plateau. Katu and Alak villages are distinctive because they arrange their palm-and-thatch houses in a circle.

Among other tribes, the animistic-shamanistic Suay (who call themselves Kui) are said to be the best elephant handlers. Elephants were used extensively for clearing land and moving timber, though working elephants are hard to find these days.

The Alak, Katu and Laven are distinctive for the face tattoos of their women, a custom slowly dying out as Lao influence in the area increases. Several Katu and Alak can be visited along the road between Pakse and Paksong at the western edge of the plateau, and along the laterite road that descends steadily from Muang Tha Taeng (That Heng) on the plateau to Beng, in Salavan Province.

About 40km east of Paksi is in Paksong which host a large day market frequented by many tribal groups. Paksong is the center the coffee growing in Laos and claims to have the “best cup of coffee in the world”. The plateau has many several spectacular waterfalls, including Tat Fan  few kilometres west of Paksong, and Tat Lo on Rte 20 to Salavan.nanas in the early 20th century. Many of the French planters left following independence in the 1950s and the rest followed as US bombardment became unbearable in the late ’60s.

We variously took several bus rides and  a boat ride down the river through the 4,000 islands and stayed on the most exotic “hippy island” where all the young European travelers hung out on the Mekong Beach.

The Khone waterfalls and Pha Pheng is a waterfall located on the Mekong River in southern Laos, near the border with Cambodia. The Khone Falls are the largest in southeast Asia and they are the main reason that the Mekong is not fully navigable into China. The falls are characterised by thousands of islands and countless
waterways, giving the area its name Si Phan Don or ‘The 4,000 islands’. The highest falls reach to 21 metres (69 ft); a succession of falls stretch 9.7 km (6.0 mi) of the river’s length.

Kern Canyon Seven Teacups Canyoneering California

How to portage the Seven Teacups and survive

Photography Maria Gates Narrative Richard D. Fisher

The Seven Teacups is one of the earth’s short but most spectacular canyoneering challenges. The “Teacups” is a succession of seven sculpted circular pools punctuated by six waterfalls. These sparkling emerald pools are set in tawny High Sierra Nevada granite slick rock that is polished to a high sheen. The pools are carved by rocks caught in a crevasse and under the force of the powerful high velocity water are swirled like marbles in the bottom of each cavity causing each pool to become deeper and deeper.

The name of this place is Dry Meadow Creek which is a tributary of the north fork of the Kern a few miles east of the tiny village of Johnsondale, California. The creek drops nearly three hundred feet in two-tenths of a miles which is over 1200 feet per mile.

The big view of the Teacups tributary and the Kern River forms a spectacular circle
between canyon-river-sky and set in majestic High Sierra granite cliffs. Here you
can seethe 7 Teacupsand also how the last quarter mile is obscured from view,
which is now the “Seven Teacups Gorge Mystery”.

“Back In The Day” 1998, I was in the offices of the top German outdoor adventure magazine and saw an incredulous full page photograph of kayakers dropping through an extremely technical and hazardous, yet visually striking pools, in snub-nosed kayaks. I couldn’t figure out what to think about first. Where was it? How could they do it? or How stunningly beautiful is it actually?

In 2005 I finally found the location and was able to take some interesting photographs sans people. At that time it was virtually impossible to get any type of directions or written description of this place, so typical of lacking information concerning this type of unique canyon world wide.

Evan and Johnnie, a daring-duo of fifteen year old canyoneering kayakers,
scout the high water Teacups run in May 1, 2011.

In 2011 there was still a lack of the very specific detail information we needed to reach and successfully photograph the Teacups.  Even among experts and locals who had been “all over the area for most of their lives,“ we could not find the exacting details necessary to accomplish a safe yet productive photo expedition to this little known place.  While many have now been there, kayaked and descended the Teacups in various combinations of ways, we still could not find agreement in how to get into and negotiate the lower section of the Teacups Gorge.

None the less, we were able to follow the progress of the brave young canyoneers, Evan and Johnnie, through a maze of technical challenges.  From our “eagle’s nest perch” on the south side of the slot canyon, we could easily see the entire panorama as well as observe with a great deal of trepidation the progress of Evan and Johnnie.

Due to the uniquely high water this spring 2011, the daring duo made the wise decisionto portage.  It became clear to us from watching their heart stopping scout that they had been told where the portage was but had never actually done it themselves. Evan did a heart pounding descent on the north side of the falls only to find out that it is not possible without ropes in excess of 200 feet to get down that section.  After he gave us a couple of near heart attacks ascending to his original position on an extended unprotected freeclimb of featureless slick rock, he rejoined Johnnie.

They moved further north about 100 yards, perhaps 200 feet descending several brushy ledges and cracks.  There they found the place where they could lower their boats down a 100 foot slck rock cliff.

In 2011 there was still a lack of the very specific detail information we needed to reach and successfully photograph the Teacups.  Even among experts and locals who had been “all over the area for most of their lives,“ we could not find the exacting details necessary to accomplish a safe yet productive photo expedition to this little known place.  While many have now been there, kayaked and descended the Teacups in various combinations of ways, we still could not find agreement in how to get into and negotiate the lower section of the Teacups Gorge.
None the less, we were able to follow the progress of the brave young canyoneers, Evan and Johnnie, through a maze of technical challenges.  From our “eagle’s nest perch” on the south side of the slot canyon, we could easily see the entire panorama as well as observe with a great deal of trepidation the progress of Evan and Johnnie. Due to the uniquely high water this spring 2011, the daring duo made the wise decision to portage.  It became clear to us from watching their heart stopping scout that they had been told where the portage was but had never actually done it themselves.

Evan did a heart pounding descent on the north side of the falls only to find out that it is not possible without ropes in excess of 200 feet to get down that section.  After he gave us a couple of near heart attacks ascending to his original position on an extended unprotected freeclimb of featureless slick rock, he rejoined Johnnie. They moved further north about 100 yards, perhaps 200 feet descending several brushy ledges and cracks.  There they found the place where they could lower their boats down a 100 foot slick rock cliff.

Slick rock cliff kayak portage in the Kern River Canyon Teacups.

Look closely at the lower right quadrant of the above photograph and you will see a brilliant orange kayak. This will give you some perspective and scale of the mandatory portage of the Seven Teacups.

At this point it was getting very late in the day, so as Evan and Johnnie reached the bottom of this slick rock cliff, we departed for our three hour arduous bushwhack back to our vehicle knowing the daring duo were over the worst part and under the circumstances, reasonably safe.

Later at the Johnsondale take out bridge on the Kern River, we found that the canyoneers had several more close calls involving near broken legs, dehydration, and extreme sunburns. Being fifteen they were remarkably well-recovered the following day. They looked a lot like two nearly drowned and starving puppies, but our hats are off to them for their bravery as well as wilderness skills at such a young age.


For us one mystery still remains. What happens in the slot canyon gorge between the Teacups and the Kern River? It is not possible to see clearly from any vantage point but from our view point it appeared that there was another 200-300 foot drop through the hidden gorge to the Kern River. We have been told “there is really nothing in there except a few small falls.”. And on the other hand, we have been told that there are several small technical falls and deep pools and two more waterfalls in the range of 30-70 feet in this last mysterious quarter mile.

We leave our story of May 1, 2011 with a question: What specifically is in the lower Seven Teacups gorge. And we want to know the information from someone who has actually done
it personally. Can you help us?

What Goes Around Comes Around

This past year one of our most beloved sponsors, Daniel M., supported us with a Macintosh Communication System. Not only for use with the Tarahumaras but also to support the Tibetan Orphanage and communications concerning Green Energy Projects in Tibet and China.  This Apple donation completely changed our ability to communicate from far flung parts of the world about education, culture, conservation, and environmental information such as Green Energy progress around the world.

At the same time another long term Tarahumara supporter, Ellen B.,  donated sewing machines to these Tarahumara girls. Upon delivering the sewing machines we found that these students could also email and were beginning to read, write and speak English.  We realized at this magical moment that if we could somehow obtain lap tops for these students that they would gain access by their ability to communicate themselves about their own people and culture on the world wide web.

About more than a dozen supporters came through with donations ranging from $10-$300 to this very special project. So Daniel M., has started a revolution of communications and information exchange which now reaches the most remote cultures and most worthy students.

And so….”What goes around goes comes around”.

A deeply heartfelt Thank You goes out to those supporters as well as Maria G., Sonia E., Mariah S.W.F.  and so many others that support this type of cultural education and exchange.

More new details to come soon!

Thank you so much for your support Spencer and Emmy M. and Diana for all that you have done to make this project a big success!

First moments of start up on a new era of Tarahumara cultural history.

Proud fathers look over their daughters educational and cultural progress.

Maria G. made this project possible with wise advice and critical emotional support on crossing the border as well as considerable financial support!

Diana interpeter and on going cultural advisor and coordinator for education and food deliveries. With a very happy Cynthia.

Education goes late into the night.

Some very happy campers!

Now modern IT Indigenous Americans visit an ancient Native American ceremonial site for prayers of thanks and education about their ancient past…all in the same day.

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The Ancient Town of Dali

Sacred Place of Canyons

Photography by Richard D. Fisher and Maria Gates

Traveling up Cangshan Mountain with the south gondola immediately brings you to the breathtaking Qingbi Stream.

Qingbi (Clear Green) Stream with it’s Green Dragon Pool derives from a mountain spring gushing out from the bottom of a rock, and the water forms a pool in the shape of a big basin
in three tiers.  This stream received it’s Poetic Name of “Overlapping Green Basins” from poems written during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

Overlapping Green Basins Waterfalls  (Qingbi Stream and Green Dragon Pool)

The Magnificent Cangshan Mountain 13,495 ft (4,122 M) also known as Diancang Mountain, lies like a protector west of Dali City, and meanders north to south.  It’s 19 Peaks create
18 breathtaking and world class canyons each with 18 streams that water fall between the peaks, and flow into Erhai Lake via the Dali Dike.

Erhai Lake sits at an altitude of 6,410 ft, (1,972 m) and resembles a crescent silently lying between  the water sources of Cangshan Mountain (Mt. Diancang) and Dali Dike.  It is dubbed  “Pure jade amidst mountains” since ancient times for it’s purity.

Float through the air and clouds up into the majestic Cangshan Mountain, and enjoy the captivating evergreen trees for as far as the eye can see.  The ride lasts long enough to get lost
in the towering peaks.

“Dark Mountains embrace green waters:  Mountain scenery sets off the lakes: Flowers are in full blossom all year round, and fragrance widely spreads” is an ancient poem written for this wonderful, eye melting sight.

The Great Gorge of Cangshan hosts beautiful streams, waterfalls, pagodas, walking paths and the gondola to enhance the experience of being in one of the finest canyon gorges without having technical skills.

The Great Gorge of Cangshan goes into the vastness of eternity it appears with the eye.  A feast for all of the senses.

Waterfalls cascade down from pool to pool in another one of the 18 canyons of the most impressive Cangshan Mountain.

WIND AND FLOWERS  Reflecting two of the famous four sights of Dali-wind, flowers, snow and moon.

A sensual waterfall that appears out of nowhere from the delightful canyons that seem to not end as they meander north to south.

Two Beautiful sights, a waterfall and a canyon beauty.

On the West side of the Cangshan Mountain sits the largest and most spectacular and grand gorge of all of the 18;  SHIMENGUAN (Stone Gate Pass: Shimen Pass) which is formed by two 1,050 ft (320 M) steep high peaks in the shape of an huge gate, hence its name. The highest peak of Cangshan Mountain, Malong Peak, creates this amazing gorge with the Snow Stream that flows through the gorge creating 119 waterfalls and pools along its path. This historical gorge witnessed the southern expedition of Kublai Khan, the founding emperor of the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368)

The Shimenguan gorge is home to Bai ethnic Families still living like the times of Kublai Khan.

A local beauty enjoys the magnificent sight of Shimenguan.

The Geothermic Kingdom of Hot Springs is the largest hot springs in Asia, and may be the most beautiful. Set in a valley surrounded by mountains, and so big you could get lost inside; there are pools of all temperatures and sizes, pools shaped like giant hands, pools with caves, pools filled with skin purifying milk, and one that claims to cleanse your heart and soul. An hours drive out of Dali.

Dali, Yunnan, China

Erhai Lake crescents the valley and can be seen from Cangshan Mountain through and between the numerous canyons.  The lake is dotted with thousand year old Bai villages that continue to function as they have for all of the past centuries.

Viewing Erhai Lake and the famous Dali Three Pagodas through Canyons on Cangshan Mountain.  The thousand year old Bai villages around the lake are so friendly, yet most visitors only experience the touristy villages.

Old Dali with Peach Tree Blossoms in December, 2010.  The colors of the Peach Blossoms consume the eye palette and bring one into a state of pleasant nirvana.

The Butterfly Spring Park in Old Dali is rarely seen by tourists.  This hidden secret amoungst the locals makes the park an escape to peace and tranquility.

Old Dali and it’s unforgettable Cangshan Mountain with 18 Canyons and waterfalls is so easily accessable.

Dali Guide to contact for tours:
Yang Qing
Ph#  +86 13577268401

Grand Canyons of Ethiopia

Art depicting the Ras Dashen Mountains in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The Inscription says:

Could Gabriel Dante Rosetti (1828-1882)have ever been in Ethiopia? It looks like his style including the model and presentation. Who ever painted this would have needed to have an intimate knowledge of the Ras Dashen Mountains, Ethiopian “Gelada” Baboon as well as canyonlands of this virtually unknown region of Africa.

Does anyone recognize this art work? I found it falling apart on a wall in a ancient colonial era hotel in Addis Abba, Ethiopia. I added the waterfalls myself.

It represents for me “ideal beauty”. “Beautiful people in beautiful places is my byline and life’s story. Perhaps as the artwork is not preserved and goes unnoticed, it will soon disappear from this world. It represents a lost persons spirit and passion. Who ever painted this knew Ethiopia and the Ras Dashen mountains, canyons and wild life. It is romantic in nature but true in sprit. I would like to find who may have painted it originally.

The Gelada Baboon is painted very accurately as well.

It would be a shame if it were lost….

Next we flew to Aksum which is the center of tourism for the Tegray Province. We were able to photograph the new dam on the Takeze River, which was a great mystery concerning the roads and access into the area. I told the local authorities that as my name was “Fisher” I want to start the first fishing guide operation on the new lake.  They were so suppressed by such a novel idea that they did not know whether to take me seriously. But none the less I could still not find directions to the road to the new dam from anyone including the official government roads department and the tourism departments. This all remains a mystery to this very day. Maybe this is the only picture ever published of the new dam?

The new dam on the Tekeze River: first published photo for adventure tourist?

The Tekezé River is a major river of Ethiopia, and forms a section the westernmost border of Ethiopia and Eritrea for part of its course. The river is also known as the Setit in Eritrea, western Ethiopia, and eastern Sudan. According to materials published by the Ethiopian Central Statistical Agency, the Tekezé River is 608 kilometers long.< href=”″ target=_blank>[1] The canyon which it has created is the deepest in Africa and one of the deepest in the world, at some points having a depth of over 2000 meters

Hydro power in Ethiopia – the staged construction of Tekeze Arch Dam
11 May 2009

Upon completion at the end of February 2009, the Tekeze Concrete Arch Dam in Ethiopia became the highest dam on the African Continent. Here James R Stevenson and Mihret Debebe provide further details of the staged construction and filling sequence for the dam, while summarizing and updating the status of the power projects currently underway in the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia by the Ethiopian Electric Power Corporation. The Tekeze Dam is located on the Tekeze River in the Northern Tigre Region of Ethiopia. The Tekeze and Atabara Rivers originate in the Simien mountains of Ethiopia. Each of these Rivers are little known but are key tributaries to the 6650km long Nile River. They are also separate from the White and Blue Nile tributaries. Since ancient times, the Nile has supported the many civilizations that surround it. The Blue Nile combined with th Tekeze/Atabara Rivers provide most of the water and silt in their seasonal runs to the Nile. Most of the rainfall (89%) arrives with the East African Monsoon during the months of July, August, and September.

Also please see for more:

and comments by Pasquale Scaturro, leader of the first descent of the Tekeze river:

Old meets new on the soon to be paved road out of Axum Ethiopia.

The first bronze war statue I have ever seen that is holding a communications device and not a weapon. Welcome to the future, now!

Exploring the remains of the Ethiopian Civil War in 2010 And:
The Ethiopian Civil War began on September 12, 1974 when the Marxist Derg staged a coup d’état against Emperor Haile Selassie, and lasted until the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF), a coalition of rebel
groups, overthrew the government in 1991. The war overlapped other Cold War conflicts in Africa, such as the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002).

Here are the very last of the big trees in June 2010. In April 2002 this was part of the Simien Mountains National Park and a protected area for wildlife and and savanna grasslands forest.  No more.  Now it is a refugee resettlement area.  The poor people and the poor nature.  Future home of an extension of the Sahara desert?

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ras Dashen (alternatively Ras Dashan or Ras Dejen Ge’ez  rās dāshen or rās dejen, Amh. “head guard”) is the highest mountain in Ethiopia. Part of Semien Mountains National Park, it reaches an elevation of 4,550 metres (14,928 ft). The more common form, “Ras Dashen” is a corruption of its Amharic name, “Ras Dejen”, used by the system of the Ethiopian Mapping Authority (EMA) which means “the general who fights in front of the Emperor”.[1] According to Erik Nilsson, Ras Dashen is the eastern peak of the rim of “an enormous volcano, the northern half of which is cut down abou thousand metres by numerous ravines, draining into the Takkazzi River.” Its western counterpart is Mount Biuat (4,510 meters), separated by the valley of the Meshaha river.

Tirhas, our assistant guide and coffee maker with the local school teacher made us feel at home over night in the newly built school.

The mid level plateau foot hills of the Ras Dashen Mountains.

Tirhas, lady left, and her brother Michael (far right) were our wonderful guides from Aksum where on their first extreme adventure in the wilderness of the Ras Dashen Mountains.  Michael has a college level degree in Tour Guiding.
We highly recommend him as well as his sister Tirhas  for any guiding job in the Aksum or northern Tigray Ethiopian region.

Maria and Tirhas at our waterfalls goal deep in the Ras Dashen North Rim Canyonlands.

Exploring a side canyon of the Tekeze River. Here is a cave of cut through of an incised meander, a rare canyon feature.

Maria Gates greets a crowd of refugee children in the Tekeze resettlement camp.

Canyon beauty of the Tekeze River gorge.

Happy local farm children in the Tekeze River Gorge. Put your own caption here? No question they have their own unique styles!

This is Maria Gates photo done in photo shop by Richard D. Fisher.  He was overheard saying “I wish that photo was mine”. “It is a work of art”!

Red Jakal Tour Operator: Yohannes Assefa has a new fleet of comfort Toyota Land Cruisers. Master Tour Guide operator for all things Ethiopian.

Local Addis Ababa photography art. Enjoy the creativity as well as the famously beautiful Ethiopian woman!

Tengchong China

Canyons and Volcanoes Wonderland Water World

Teng Chong, Yunnan, China

Tengchong, an new center for Green Tourism or Eco-tourism travel.

In western Yunnan, China on the Burma border TengChong county has 23 nationalities, most predominately the Han, Dai, Hui, A’chang, Lisu and Bai. During the “New Stone Age” people lived in this fertile valley and evolved into the early Han Dynasty state called “Dianyue” or “Elephant Riding State”. TengChong was a major stopover, supply, and resting place for the southern Silk Road traders in silk, tea and highly prized jade.

Tengchong has been a frontier protection zone for China through many time periods but played a key role in the “Anti-Japanese War”, or what is more widely known as WWII. During this time period the Tengchong people and main Chinese army joined forces with the American Air force, the so called “Flying Tigers”,  who were flying what is called the “Burma Hump” to expel the Japanese. Therefore, Tengchong people and American have a long and enlightened history together. Today Tengchong is still a destination for the “Flying Tigers” and their descendents who fondly remember, working shoulder to shoulder together, to rescue and save many the crashed American high flyers.

TengChong has always also been a very famous retreat for artist, philosophers and religious thought and practice, principally Buddhism and Taoism. It is a place and people who prize for themselves and their guest moderation, and hospitality.

Today, Tengchong is the center of cultural and natural tourism.  Equally, now seven 5 star resorts are finished or nearing completion. It now has a golf resort, a number of very well furnished hot spring retreats and spas and plans for more in the near future. It has a new completely modern airport and the new “freeway style” road is scheduled to be completed by 2012. It is the gateway to the NuJaing River and it is planned to be a gate way into Burma, it is hoped, soon. Downtown Tengchong in 2010, is under complete renovation, which according to current Chinese national development standards, will be finished so very soon, perhaps in one year or so.

A view looking west of the TengChong Valley from Gaoligonshan Mountains.

September-October 2009

The Tengchong valley has a unique geological history that provides for it’s very rich soils. The  “volcano barrier waterfall” pictured below was an intrusion that stopped up the Tengchong river for a time.  A large lake built up behind this “volcanic barrier” and deposited very fertile sediments that almost filled in the lake. Eventually and slowly bit by bit the lake water overtopped the volcanic intrusion allowing the river to flow toward the south again. The lake drained bit by bit leaving behind the rich sediments for agriculture and now only the so called small marshy lake called “north sea” or more properly Baihai Lake Wetlands is all that is left of the original lake that filled the entire valley. This agricultural fertility stimulated the TengChong vallies early settlement and is one of the primary reasons for it’s importance today.

This waterfalls in virtually in downtown Tengchong and now the center of a 5 star commercial development. October 2010

The “Charming Ancient Town of Heshun” is one of the major tourist attractions and is the famous home town of many overseas Chinese. May 2010

The “Lil Dog” of Heshun-Guards the town today. Please do not disturb the tranquility here. 2009

Mystical school girls climbs the stairs of Laifeng Forest Park Hill in downtown Teng Chong.

The Hot Sea Tour and Resort
Is in a deep and mysterious canyons with many pools, geysers, and steam vents and is about 10km to the southeast of town on a paved road. There are many accommodations and healthful baths found in this region.

It’s called Hot Sea, OK?

Yufeng Mountain

Yunfeng Mountain,  a shrine for Taoist is 60km northwest of Teng Chong and has a cable way half way up to the top.

“Tabacco Drying Tower”,  Village life at the foot of Yunfeng Mountain. September 2009

Cherry Blossom Valley Hot Springs – A Natural Canyon Hideaway
This is one of the best trips from TengChong for the nature lover and hiker has rustic accommodations and good food available. This canyon is located in the Gaolingshan Mountain nature reserve  and has “many pink wild cherry blossoms everywhere in the valley…falls gushing from the steeps of the mountainside swiftly drop down like flying dragons…the drips splash in all directions like pearls…” What beautiful local language. The reader can go and judge for themselves if it is all true. Cherry Blossom Valley is about 20km east of TengChong 20km along a cobble stone road.

“Jade-dragon like flying falls” and a “a natural oxygen bar”, and also, what would be a tourist area without a few local “canyon beauties” to spice up the views?

Tengchong Water Bufflo to market in late September 2011

Gaoligonshan Mountains

These mountains are called locally by many names, green labyrinth, green gene storehouse, spontaneous museum,natural arboretum, a shelter for rare plants and animals. It is ranked as a class ‘A’ nature reserve by the World wildlife Fund in 1992.

These mountains produce some of the finest and most highly prized teas of China. This is a photograph of a shaded tea producing grove especially made for the cultivation of Japanese tea counisers  of the finest taste requirements. some tea trees here are many hundreds of years old and there is so much demand for their produce that the trees can hardly keep up.  so some of the teas from this volcanic mountains can be perhaps the most expensive in the world, it is said.

Yunnan is a treasure land of China for developing the tea industry. All the tea-producing areas of the province are located at elevations from 1,200 to 2,000 meters. The annual mean temperature ranges from 12°C to 23°C, effective annual heat accumulation is between 4,500°C and 7,000°C, and annual rainfall is 1,000-1,900mm. The monsoon season is concentrated in May through October, during which the rainfall constitutes about 85% of that of the whole year. The  monsoon coincides with the hottest months, and there is a very high value of effective rainfall. In the dry season which starts in November and ends in April, There are sufficient sunny day. There is adequate sunshine, and the tea trees have a long growth period. Under normal conditions, the tea-leaf plucking period may last for 8 to 9 months. The tea-growing areas are generally covered with red, yellow of brick-red soils with the pH value ranging between 4 to 6. Comparing with other major tea producing countries, the climate of Yunnan is more suitable for growing tea trees. Therefore, Yunnan has rich varieties of tea trees and excellent tea species.

This history is so interesting 4 links are provided for the reader to enjoy the extensive history and this cultural resource to humanity:

Rice Harvest in Mangbang 30km east along the main road from TengChong. This is an exceptionally beautiful terraced canyon/valley that never sees any tourist. So the local people do not know quite how to respond to visitors.
Maybe some day it will be fitful for tourist and a tourist attraction like some other major terrace complexes elsewhere in Yunnan, China and southeast Asia. If hospitality is provided to visitors, then tourism will very likely benefit the local economy much.

Canyons of Southern Turkey

Our quest to find the major Canyons of Southern Turkey began flawlessly with a flight from Istanbul directly Antalya  to this port and major tourist destination on the Mediterranean. From years of research on these canyons I was eager to actually lay my eyes on this ancient landscape whose history was so important to Islamic, Christian, and Hebrew religions and I was equally interested in the ancient Greek and Roman history of this incredible place. Events here have played a part in modern history for more than 4,000 years.

I already know the canyons were of Karst Geology (limestone) and there for would most likely be what are called “Slot Canyons” of a rugged and challenging nature. Swimming long pools, bouldering, a bit of climbing as well as rafting might be required to explore them. The first thing to do was locate maps and level expert on these canyons.  We were in fantastic luck again when our frist and perhaps most important discovery was  Enver Lucas,  a Turkish/American who spoke both native English as well as Turkish languages and owned a much in demand fine yacht and know a considerable amount about the local canyons as well as all things Turkish including an encyclopedia knowledge of the history of the entire region and indeed the nation of Turkey.

The history, geography,geology and culture that Envor shared with us over several days was so fascinating I must recommend the Antalia link on Wikipedia which is exceptionally well done.

Photography by Maria Gates and Richard D. Fisher

Koprulu Canyon
Along side the Mediterranean when you take the Alanya highway and drive to Northeast of Antalya, at the turn off for Tasagil, is the scenic route that leads to the Koprülü Canyon National Park . The twisting road crisscrosses over mountain streams and passes through Virgin forests. It is often a slow drive as the view at every turn is more beautiful than the last. The park, 92 km from Antalya , is the valley of wild beauty rich in flora and fauna. The canyon stretches for 14 km along the Koprü River and is 400 meters deep in some places. The Roman Oluk Bridge , which spans the canyon, and the Bugrum Bridge over the Kocadere stream, are engineering feats of antiquity. From this park you can make two possible excursions to the ancient city of Selge and to the Dedegol Mountains. Dedegol, the highest peak in this mountain range rises to 2,992 meters. An important city of ancient Pisidia, Altinkaya (Selge), northwest of the Koprulu Canyon National Par , is reached by a winding mountain road. Now Canyon is very popular for white river Rafting area make is attractive by the tourists in the Antalya Hotels, and everyday a thousands comes and have Boat rafting tours in the Koprulu Canyon (Beskonak) on the region. Connection of Manavgat province with other centers is only maintained by road. Bus companies within province are maintaining transportation to other cities and provinces from Antalya at west and Alanya at east. Bus companies in Manavgat and Side coaching station, are increasing their bus voyages according to tourist number, which increases during summer months. Alternative minibus voyages are organized from province to Manavgat Waterfalls, Side, Sorgun like visitable places. (the next 4 photo’s below)

Enver and Richard discuss their worldwide canyoneering adventures over good local wine, bread, goat cheese and salami on the stunning overlook of the Korprulu canyon.

Richard Fisher carefully listening to the advice of the original canyoneers Gok Tevfik and Enver Lucas at the entry way to Turkeys incredible canyoneering challenge in Koprulu. Gok Tevfik, meaning “sky Tevfik” for his blue eyes, has a wonderful B&B at the entry way of the Koprulu canyon narrows. (above)

Maria Gates hiking the canyons section of the St. Paul Trail. (above)

Please see:

The lovely small villages scattered about the rims of all of these canyons is breathtaking. A small village above the Saklikent Canyon. (above)

Turkish Canyon beauty was selling tasty tea, flat bread and diced mutton in a very small family road side tent. (above)

Tourgut Canyon

The entrance of the Tourgut Canyon or “Deer Canyon”.  A little known slot canyon near Marmaris. The splendor of the native Pink Bougainvillea common to all of these canyons came as a complete surpise. For the true canyoneer, this hidden jewel is yet a challenge to be discovered. (above)

Many of the canyons in Turkey still beckon the canyoneer.  We basically did an inventory of the major canyons along the southern coast. It would require a wet suit do to the very cold water and a great deal of canyoneering skill as well as youthful strength and energy to explore more deeply into these, perhaps dangerous, narrows. We are quite sure it would be worth it however. Such an explorer would find and incredible array of springs, water falls, side canyons and deep emerald as well as sky blue waters which most likely have never been photographed before.

Saklikent Canyon: an incredible slot canyon about 60km west of Antalya (below)

Excellent Guide/English speaking Turkish/American
Enver Lucas
Address: PIM PK #20
Antalya, Turkey 07275
Phone: (0242) 419-2441
Cell:  (0532) 477-2642

Contact web site:

Enver Lucas is a Turkish American who introduced adventure travel to Turkey. After graduating from TED Ankara Koleji and college in San Diego, he lived in Yosemite National Park for over a decade. Here he learned about the hospitality business and became an avid mountaineer, skier and naturalist. He became a professional whitewater rafting guide and worked many Western US rivers before returning to Turkey to navigate the first descent of the Coruh River. Enver remained in Turkey to climb mountains and to author his book Trekking In Turkey for Lonely Planet, he married Tosun’s daughter, and then started his own company specializing in adventure travel tour operations in Turkey. Enver realized the potential for tourism along the beautiful Turkish Coast at a time when pleasure trips there were unheard of so he researched the area from that perspective. He i considered the pioneer of classic, ecologically safe, and culturally interactive sailing itineraries in Turkey such as “The Turquoise Coast” and “The Sapphire Seas”. Enver is an accredited professional guide and tour operator for connoisseurs, and works with leading American adventure travel firms such as Geographic Expeditions and Wilderness Travel.