Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge, with a jaw-dropping elevation of about 213 meters from the river bottom to its top, is sandwiched between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Ha Ba Snow Mountain with a raging turn at the First bend of the Yangtze River of Stone Drum Town. The gorge is enroute to Lijiaing and Shangri-La and about 2-hour drive to from Lijiang. There are 4-5 buses (at about 20RMB/per pax) heading to Tiger Leaping Gorge from Lijiang bus station. Or you can also charter a private car for around 80rmb for a round trip.

The gorge, in the length of 22 kilometers, is divided into three sections, the upper gorge, the middle gorge and the lower gorge. The upper gorge, about 9km away from Tiger Leaping Gorge town (Chinese character: 虎跳峡镇, Pinyin: Hǔ Tiào Xiá Zhèn ) or Qiaotou (Chinese character: 桥头, Pinyin: Qiào Tóu ), is the section that buses can reach and tourist flocks always tour. Middle gorge, 5km far from the upper gorge, lures the thrill-seeking hearts with its most spectacular largest-gap view filled with roaring torrent and cliff cluster and piled giant rocks. The lower gorge is less impressive than the former two sections.

Hike through the gorge is the best way to maximize the experience of the gorges. The Tiger Leaping Gorge can start from the upper gorge or the lower gorge. Most of the hikers tend to choose the upper gorge route hiking path for its more appealing beauty and challenging condition. The hiking path stretching from the upper gorge section to middle gorge, also named the high way, was the original ancient Tea and Horde trail and is well-maintained and direction-marked and sometimes narrow, and serves as the Naxi local's daily life passage. A fair number of family-run guesthouses with good foods and accommodations along the route scan still get you ready for the demanding trek tour.

The pouring-in hikers have also activated the local's business intelligence. Some stops of the hiking route are charged extra controversial toll fee (5-10RMB) for the locals claim to be their diggers and builders like the Gorge Sky Ladder (Chinese character: 天梯, Pinyin: Tiān Tī), Zhanglaoshi Path(Chinese character: 张老师家小路, Pinyin: Zhāng Láo shī), etc. In the middle gorge bottom section, many underwater rocks are exposed to the air during the dry period and photographing on them is charged by the local. It is not advised for the safety's sake.

The better hiking time falls in May and the early July when the hills are drenched in plant and flower life and the gorge is more awesome with sufficient water. Rainy days are absolutely not for hiking since the rockslide can be easily triggered and the narrow paths become extremely slippery and the snow mountain scene becomes vague. The rainy season in the gorge lasts from May to November and the densest rainy period are from July to mid August. As for more detailed info, you can find it in many hiker-frequent cafés and accommodations in Lijiang. The latest hike information like hand-drawn detailed trekking maps, hiking advice can be pretty handy resources for your trek.

The Tiger Leaping Gorge is among the hottest hiking route and suits for the challenge-chasing ones. It is still not a hiking-impossible route once you have made a good homework.