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  1. Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking Route,Shangri-la

Tiger Leaping Gorge(Hutiao Gorge)
It is on the Jinsha River of the upper reaches of the Yangtze is located 105 kilometers south of Zhongdian County. The gorge is 17 kilometers long with a drop of 213 meters.

The gorge is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle and Lower Hutiao. At the narrowest spot the river is only 30 meters wide. The mouth of the gorge is 1,800 meters above sea level. The river is flanked by Yulong and Haba snow mountains, with a height difference of 3,900 meters. It is one of the deepest gorges in the world. 

Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking

Also click here to see the Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking Tour itinerary

Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge
Flowing through Shigu Town, the Jinsha River is flanked by the Yulong Snow Mountain to the east and the Haba Snow Mountain to the west. From the top of the Yulong Snow Mountain to the bottom of the gully is a drop of 3,700 meters, making it 1,800 meters deeper than the Colorado Grand Canyon, while the Haba Snow Mountain slopes gradually in its upper regions and is steeper further down. The mountain is 5,396 meters above sea level and the lowest point on the bank of the Jinsha River is 1,550 meters above sea level. The two mountains flanking the Jinsha River form a 15-km Gorge -- Tiger Leaping Gorge, further classified into the upper, middle and lower Tiger Leaping Gorge.

 

The Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge is the narrowest section, and in the center of the river is a huge rock called Tiger Leaping Rock. It is said that a tiger once leapt from the east bank, clearing the rock, to land on the west bank, hence its name.

 Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking

Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge
The most perilous section is the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, which features a huge drop in water level. Six km away from the upper gorge is a waterfall where the river crashes down over 100 meters hitting the rocks in the river bed and creating violent currents.

In one 100-meter section are numerous reefs, and the current is torrential. The gorge is rarely traversed by humans, but on the slope between the Middle and Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge there is a small village -- Hetaoyuan Village, which has little contact with the outside, and where villagers lead a simple and natural life, dwelling in stone-plate houses.

 

Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge
The most important sight in the lower gorge is the Feixing Rapids, from which people can look down on the unconstrained Jinshajiang River. A 32 km long road from the Haba Mountain to Jiangbian Village has been opened to traffic, but traveling on foot is much more interesting.

 

From Wlanut Grove to Haba, via Jiangbian, it is seven to eight hours. From here to the Yi village of Sanba is about the same, following trails. You could just follow the road and hitch with the occasional truck or tracker but this way is longer and less scenic. Some hardy mountain bikers have followed the trails but this is really only fun from north to south, elevations being what they are. The best way would be to hire a guide.

 

In Haba most people stay at Haba Snow Mountain Inn; In Sanba the Shanzhuangluguan. From Sanba there is an 8 am bus to Zhongdian (five hours), or you could get off at the turn-off to Emerald Pagoda Lake (Bita Lake, 25 km east of Zhongdia) and hike there.

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Trekking Routes in Tiger Leaping Gorge
There are three routes. One can start from Hutiaoxia Town along the river to Daju in Lijiang County, or go upstream from Daju. The third route sets out from Hutiaoxia Town to Hetao-yuan and is 28 km in length.An adventurous add-on to the gorge trek is to continue north all the way to Haba village and the limestone terraces of Baishuitai, making it a four-day trek from Qiaotou. From here you will travel on to Zhongdian.

 

Carrying a bag, walking among people in different colors of skin and speaking different languages, you are not on Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris but Tiger-leaping orge, the world famous place for people to ravel on foot. You can begin from the upper or lower part of the gorge and finish the trip in three days. It will be a safe trip. However, the dangerousness of the gorge itself will make it more difficult for ordinary travelers.

 

Access: Lijiang to Qiaotou or Daju

Starting: Qiaotou or Daju
Ending: Daju or Qiaotou or Haba Village

Route A
Daju-> Walnut Grove ( Woody )-> Tina's -> Middle Rapids -> Halfway Guesthouse -> 28 Turns-> Nuoyu Village-> Qiaotou
Remarks: from Daju to Qiaotou is upstream, Qiaotou to Daju is downstream, you can make the trek in either direction.

Part I : Qiaotou <=> Halfway Guesthouse, 6-8 hours
Part II : HWG <=> Walnut Grove, 3-4 hours
Part III : Walnut Grove <=> Daju : 3-4 hours

This means that trekkers leaving from Qiaotou will probably have to spend the first night in HWGH while trekkers leaving from Daju will have the choice of Walnut Grove or HWG.

Route B 
Qiaotou-> Nuoyu Village->  28 Turns-> Halfway Guesthouse ->Middle Rapids -> Tina's -> Walnut Grove ( Woody )-> Jiangbian-> Haba-> Sanba Village(Baishuitai) 

 

Two paths

The high path : long, strenuous & dangerous but amazing view : this is the "real" stuff. To find it from Qiaotou, walk 80m after the "entrance-fee short cut" or 200m after the entrance, take the large road on the left, pass a school sport yard, take the small path going up and follow the arrows of various colors.

The walk requires some previous trekking experience and good fitness. The path is sometimes slippery, sometimes very narrow (20cm), sometimes next to a ravine... It is OK under light rain but not more. In any case, check the conditions before going by asking at Backpacker's Cafe in Qiaotou. If you stick to the path and follow the arrows (red, yellow, white or blue) and the shoes traces in the dust, you should not have any trouble finding your way.

The low path : relatively easy, flat and boring. You can really walk in good condition from Walnut Grove to Km 9 only : from Qiaotou to km 9 is the domain on the Chinese tourist cars and buses (the Chinese come to see the Tiger Leaping Rock at Km 10) and you will have to take a lift or bring a mask gas as the road is transformed into a big dust cloud.

 

Two places to start (for the high path)

Qiaotou : Buses from Lijiang to Zhongdian stop at Qiaotou, 7:30~15:00, 2hrs, Y13.5 
Daju : Buses from Lijiang, 7:30~13:30, 3hours, Y23.5

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Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking Tour Itinerary

The popular section of trail begins at Qiaotou, two hours out of Lijiang.  You can take a Hutiao / Zhongdian-bound bus from Lijiang, get off at Qiaotou(Y13-15),  leave your bag at Backpackers' Cafe(unless you plan to trek further to Baishuitai near Haba), then change to a local minibus to the entrance of the gorge.

 

The entry fee is currently Y50, although it can be easily avoided if one arrives before the office opens, or at some opportune moment when the guard is out (or in the confusion if you're arriving with a number of other hikers).

 

Typically the hike is spread over two days, with a night spent at one of the many guest houses along the route, ending with a 40-60 minute bus-ride from Walnut Grove to Qiaotou (Y50-60 for a small van). More adventuresome types will continue to Baishuitai beyond.

 

 

 

 

D1 Qiaotou-> Nuoyu Village->  28 Turns-> Halfway Guesthouse

Your hiking trip starts from Qiaotou, the 28 zigzaging turns will be a real stuff. The 26km takes about 6-8 hours. From the top of "28 turns" on the high path further uphill to a place of altitude above 3000m, you can have a view of the panorama of the entire Gorge. Check this at a Tea Horse or Guesthouse if you cannot figure it out yourself. 

You will arrive at Halfway Guesthouse to finish today's trekking.  At an altitude of 2500m, you get a magnificent view over the Yangtze River below and the Yulong Mountain right in front of you. For the keen photographer this trek provides a great opportunity to capture nature's best moments.

Halfway Guesthouse organizes two-day treks up Haba Snow Mountain with an overnight stay uphill at a point of altitude above 4000 meters. Sleeping bags and mats for the trek can be rented at the guesthouse. Successful trekkers are awarded "donkey shoes" as souvenirs and their names and contact information are recorded in the "donkey skin book" at the guesthouse. Similar treks can also be arranged at Five Fingers Mountain Guesthouse.

 

D2 Halfway Guesthouse ->Middle Rapids -> Tina's -> Walnut Grove ( Woody )

Three roads lead to the Middle Rapids. One starts at the right of Woody No.2 (Y2 for "road crossing" fee), another starts near Teacher Zhang's Guesthouse (Y5 "road crossing" fee), the third starts near Chateau Woody where you see a sign advertising Xia Yin Gu's guide service. Once you enter, just go down and you won't miss it! The scenery is the most spectacular in the entire Tiger Leaping Gorge.

To return, you may go back on the same road, or take a different one. Notice that on the third road close to the rapids there is a very dangerous section of a few dozen meters long called "Tiny Sky" (and you need to pay between Y2-5 depending on the condition to cross that). At the rapids itself, there are two places charging "road crossing" fees of 2Y each: one for a small bridge leading to the first road, the other for crossing the wooden plank to the Middle Tiger Leaping Rock. The visit takes between 3 and 5 hours.

Reminders:

  1. Beware of the touts hanging around various guesthouses on the low path (Walnut Grove included except at Sean's Guesthouse): Offending these people may incur a harsh beating plus a demand for hefty money.

  2. It's out of electricity sometimes in Walnut Grove, makes sure you have a flashlight.

 

D3  Walnut Grove -> Haba Village 

An adventurous add-on to the gorge trek is to continue north all the way to Haba village and the limestone terraces of Baishuitai, making it a four-day trek from Qiaotou. From here you will travel on to Zhongdian.

From Walnut Grove to Haba via Jiangbian, it's about 30km and much of it is uphill, which takes 7-8 hours, more difficult than the high trail of the Tiger Leaping Gorge.  After a long ascent, you will reach the village of Haba for the night.  A few hundred residents in Haba, many of them are Muslim, and a couple of guesthouses tucked into a valley that spills down a hillside with mountains rising on three sides make up Haba. The Haba Snow Mountain Inn, a typical rural Yunnan guesthouse - a family farm with a couple of rooms converted to guesthouse use.

 

D4 Haba Vilalge to Baishuitai

A brief steep ascent in the beginning and a couple of steep descents are the only diversions from what is otherwise largely a flat trek and certainly much easier than the Walnut Grove to Haba portion.

 

Baishuitai (White Water Terrace), believed to be the birthplace of Naxi Dongba culture, is not as nice as Haba. A cluster of buildings around the base of the terraces themselves form the de-facto town of Baishuitai, which falls under the denomination of Sanba town. The main attraction is the limestone terraces, though interesting to see and worth the Y30 of admission. Basic accommodation is available in the town for Y10/bed. Off the main road most of the local dwellings are in the Naxi style and feature the twin-fish motif.

 

For moving on, the first bus to Zhongdian departs at 8:30AM, while others pass through throughout the day - either heading north to Zhongdian or south to Haba, Jiangbian, Tiger Leaping Gorge or Lijiang. On your ride to Zhongdian (4 hours),  you can get off at the turn-off to Bita Lake, 25km east of Zhongdian and hike there.

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Lodging in Tiger Leaping Gorge

Qiaotou or Tiger Leaping Gorge Town

  • Gorge Village Hotel, Xia Gu Chun (0887 880 6246), opposite Backpacker's Cafe, Dorm 10Y in 2/3 bed's room, Dble 25, Dble with bath 120Y / Restaurant

  • Jade Dragon Hotel "Lotus Hotel" (0887 8806 196), on the right from Bus Station, Dorm 12/15Y in 5/3 bed's room, Dble with bath 160Y / Restaurant

     

On the high path (kilometers from Qiaotou):

  • Naxi Family Guesthouse, 6km, Nuo Yu Village, 1.5-2 hours from Qiaotou, 5-8 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm Y10 / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

  • Old Horse Guesthouse,6.5km on a separate path, Nuo Yu Village, 40min walking up from low path at km 6.5, 1.5-2 hours from Qiaotou, 5-8 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm Y10/ Basic 

  • Tea Horse Trade Guesthouse and Peace Gorge Guesthouse, both at 12km, Ya Cha Corner, 5min between the two, 1 hour walking up from low path at 11km, 3-6 hours from Qiaotou, 3-5 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm Y10 / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

  • Halfway Guesthouse, 17km, Ben Di Wan Village, 1 hour walking up from low path at km 14, 4-8 hours from Qiaotou, 2-4 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm 10Y,12Y or 15Y in 1,2,3 or 4 bed's rooms / Basic but what a view (check the toilets...) / Hot water /Restaurant 

  • Five Fingers Mountain Guesthouse, 18km, Ben Di Wan Village, 4-8 hours from Qiaotou, 2-3.5 hours from Walnut Grove / Dorm Y10/bed, Hot water / Restaurant . From here it is 3.6 km (2 hours) to Tina's Guesthouse on the low path 

     

On the low path (kilometers from Qiaotou):

  • Woody No.2 (Zhongxia Meijing Shanzhuang), 18km  / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

  • Teacher Zhang's Guesthouse, 18.5km  / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant 

  • Tina's Guesthouse,  20km, in front of the path going up to the high path, 45mn from Walnut Grove / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water / Restaurant / If you are walking the low path to Qiaotou, take the shortcut just before the Guesthouse to avoid 1.5km of turning road. 

  • Midgorge Guesthouse, the former Ya Cha Hotel, now at 21km / Dorm 10Y per bed / Basic / Hot water /

    Restaurant 

     

At Walnut Grove (23km  from Qiaotou):

  • Chateau Woody, the first one from Daju / Great view from the clean room for 10Y or 15Y per bed in 1, 2 or 3 bed's room / Hot water in the evening / Clean Toilets / Restaurant 

  • Sean's Guesthouse "Spring Guesthouse", the first one from Qiaotou / Dorm 15 in 8 or 12 bed's rooms / Dorm 20 in Dble / 42 big beds / Hot water / Restaurant

     

At Daju

  • Snowflake Hotel or Tiger Leaping Gorge Hotel have cheap beds.  

     

Reminders and Travel Tips about Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking

 

Wear light hiking boots with ankle support. 
There is a risk of landslides in bad weather, though no one would like to step out of the door on a rainy day, just in case the weather changes when you are on route. After all, it's a 2-4 days trek. 
  
As with any touristy area, there are endless efforts of varying legitimacy to help you part with your RMB along the route. At various intervals, old women, young girls and sundry others will demand small fees for using optional parts of the path. Some, such as the decent to the river below Tina's guest house, are particularly annoying, as you'll be asked for a few RMB more at what seems like every step of the way, with an elaborate story to explain the cost. 
  
Also be aware that some guest houses may try to mislead you about your hiking options, for example Tina's guest house has been known to insist that while you may descend to the river below, you must hike back up, and may not continue along the river to Walnut Grove--one of the most spectacular sections of the trail.

 

Admission Fee:¥0

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