Tiger Leaping Gorge
Chinese name: 虎跳峡 (Hu Tiao Xia)
Location: The Tiger Leaping Gorge is about 90km north of Lijiang city, it is located in the Qiaotou village (also known as the Tiger Leaping Gorge village).
Admission fee: RMB50/p.p (entrance fee only, if you want to hike the middle Tiger Leaping Gorge from the local footpaths, you may need to pay an extra CNY10 to the local farmer who built the paths.)
Opening time: 09:00-18:00.
Best season to visit: The Tiger Leaping Gorge is suitable to visit all year round, but if you want to hike on the high way, it is suggested to choose a period without rains as the hiking is not easy. The two Snow Mountains at the gorge (Yulong and Haba) do not have snows even in early winter sometimes in recent years, so if you come for the snow mountain views, the best time for a visit is in December or even later.
Recommended time for a visit: at least 2 days.
How to get there:
By bus: The most common way is taking bus to the Tiger Leaping Gorge from Lijiang. There are two shuttle buses going to Qiaotou village in Lijiang everyday.
Rent a car: Most of the cars tourists can rent are the mini-bus (7 people including the driver), a round trip to the Tiger Leaping Gorge is about CNY200 per car, means CNY30+ per person.
If you are coming down from the north part - Shangri-La (Diqing), you can also find buses or rent a car to the gorge. If so, your hiking on the high raod is reversed to the normal hiking method.
Introduction of the Tiger Leaping Gorge:
The gorge is known as the 'First Gorge of the Yangtze River', the gorge become famous after American pilot Rock's three fly experiences here and his photos of the gorge shocked the world. Since then, the Tiger Leaping Gorge has become the holy land for outdoor adventure fans and is regarded as one of the top 10 hiking routes in China.
The whole gorge is about 20 kilometers in length and is divided into three sections, the Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge, the Middle Gorge and the Lower Gorge; there is a 'Tiger Leaping Stone' in each section, legend said that tiger once jumped across the Jinshajiang River by using the big stone as its stepping-stone. We can also regard the high path hiking of the gorge as the fourth part.
1. The first section – the upper gorge
This section is about 9 kilometers from Qiaotou village; it is the place where most of the tourists visited, if you book a tour with the travel agent, you will be brought to the upper section. The upper gorge has the most torrential waters, it is a grand sightseeing. The travel agency arranges here for customers as it has the cheapest cost for driving but you may see a more magnificent views than the middle gorge, also the guardrails and other protective facilities of the Tiger Leaping Gorge Upper section are the best.
2. The second section – the middle gorge
This section actually is located at the end point of the high path hiking; it is also where the Tina’s Guest House is located. Visiting to the middle Tiger Leaping Gorge is a much harder challenge as tourist may need to go down from the cliff to the river bank, there are at least two paths (teacher Zhang’s house or the sky ladder house) built by local famer and the path starts from their own house to the river bank of the middle gorge, you need to pay CNY10 per person to use their own built path to see the middle section of the gorge. You need to hike about 2.5 hours for a round trip to see the middle gorge and the hiking is exhausting and some times dangerous as the road here was the real local path on cliffs only walked by ancient people and horses. Make sure you will leave most of your heavy equipment at the hostels as you may need to climb some vertical ladders which are over 20 meters in total. You can take photos with the commemorative plaque of the middle gorge but some of them are not for free.
3. The third section – the lower gorge
This section is where the Sean's Guesthouse located, also known as the Walnut Garden. If you have finished the high way hiking to the middle gorge (Tina's) and still want to visit the lower Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can continue your walk along the bus road. You may need to take bus back to Qiaotou if you do not wish to go to Shangri-La (Diqing), or you can across the Yangtze river by ship then continue your walk/taking bus to Daju village, then get back to Lijiang from there. There are two ferries: 5 kilometers and 10 kilometers from the Walnut Garden. If you choose the closer one, you will see the amazing landscape of 'a high gorge creates the peaceful lake'; it is also the best place to enjoy the whole gorge although most of the tourists will not visit here.
4. The fourth section – the trekking along the high path
The high road hiking on the Tiger Leaping Gorge become famous in the eyes of foreign tourists much earlier than in the eyes of Chinese. Every day, many backpacker travelers experience the adventure there as it is the hardest but most interesting one. All the high trail hiking is on the mountain, it is dangerous and risky, therefore, most of the travel agencies will not arrange it into the itinerary, but if you are interested in it, make sure you will accompanied by local tour guide and you have a good endurance as it needs 1-3 days' trekking according to the strength of the hikers.
There are many hostels on the mountains but you may need to walk 1 to 3 hours from one to another, bring enough water (at least 1.5L) before the trekking as the free mountain springs only exists on the second half of the path. Make sure leave most of your heavy equipments on the hotel at the mountain foot. Hiking on the Tiger Leaping Gorge, you may see two snow mountains, Yulong and Haba, you can start the hike from the entrance of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, from Qiaotou village to the middle gorge (Tina's guest house), or from the opposite direction from Tina's to Qiaotou. The main stop you will pass during the trekking includes the Naxi Guest House, 28 Bends, the Tea House Guest House, the Halfway Guest House, the Guanyin Waterfall, the Tina's Guest House and the Woody Guesthouse.