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Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia)

Lijiang, China

Yunnan is well-endowed with natural beauty and well-preserved minorities culture, but it doesn’t stop there. At the Tiger Leaping Gorge near Old Town Lijiang, you can get your adrenaline pumping with some adventure tourism as well! The gorge is one of the deepest in the world and the Jinsha river flowing through it feeds into the renowned Yangtze river. The river, along with two others, is part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site. But it is the hiking alongside the gorge that attracts foreigners here from all over the world.

It is at a distance of 60kms from Lijiang and close to Qiaotou town. Buses will take you there from Lijiang or Shangri-La in a journey that takes three hours at most. You also have the option to hire a private vehicle which is costlier (approximately RMB400/ day) but more convenient. At the entrance there is a nominal charge of RMB35 which is sometimes inadvertently missed when the booth isn’t staffed. Some places (like bridges, ladders, etc.) which are the property of the local Naxi population have separate tolls as well ranging between RMB15-50. The ideal times to visit are October-November and April-May. Where skid-proof shoes, pack lots of snacks and water (though you will come across the occasional inn and restaurant) and be prepared for sudden rains as the weather may take turns pretty quick. If you simply want to visit the Tiger Leaping Rock, a half-day trip is all it takes. But if you want to hike the full expanse of the gorge, it is advised to plan it for 2 days as dark sets in pretty fast here. And always travel with a partner or group, to help you out in case of emergencies.

There are three sections to this gorge; the upper (near Qiaotou), middle and the lower section. The 28 bends area, which you’ll encounter in the upper section is probably the steepest and most strenuous part of the trail (the upper trail, that is. The lower trail is a developed road for transport and goes right alongside the river). This section is also the narrowest and has the Tiger Leaping Rock point. Legend has it that to escape a hunter, a tiger jumped from this narrow point and saved its life. There are statues of the leaping tiger and even a broad walk built next to the river so people can enjoy taking selfies here. This is the spot most Chinese tourists flock to so be prepared for crowds!

The rest of the hike is quite but interesting with many sights to delight the nature lover. Be careful of rockslides. Overall, the hike isn’t considered too challenging, though it is rewarding. The inns along the way are basic but comfortable (there are a couple of modern inns at Qiaotou with Wi-Fi and western food). At the end of the lower gorge there is a ferry that will take you to Daju on the opposite side, from where you catch a ride back to Lijiang.

Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia) Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia) Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia) Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia) Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiao Xia)

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