A River Name Which Is Also A Flower Name Leaping Tiger Gorge – Grand Canyon of China

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Leaping Tiger Gorge – Grand Canyon of China

If you want to experience China’s rugged desert and see stunning natural scenery, the Leaping Tiger Gorge trail is for you. The Leaping Tiger Gorge is a huge gorge on the Yangtze River, the world’s third largest river and China’s most important river.

The ghat is approximately 18 kilometers long, runs from southwest to northeast, and is as deep as two kilometers in some parts. The canyon is formed when the Yellow River flows between Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (elevation 5596m) and Habaksushan Mountain (elevation 5396m). In terms of canyon depth and the height of the canyon walls, Leaping Tiger Gorge rivals the Grand Canyon.

The gorge is located 60 kilometers north of the picturesque city of Lijiang in China’s western Yunnan Province. The gorge has immense natural beauty, wide biodiversity and is a part of the “Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Area” World Heritage Site.

The local name for the river that flows through the gorge is the Golden Sands River (Jingsha) so don’t get confused if locals or maps don’t mention the Yangtze River. Same river, different names.

Name and story

In ancient times tigers used to escape from hunters and escape across the gorge at its narrowest point (25 meters wide). The tiger managed this leap by jumping over a rock. A rock that is now called Leaping Tiger Rock and is a major attraction for Chinese tourists

Wharf layout

A map that clearly shows the sections of the gorge, landmarks, landmarks and climbing times. This is one of the best maps you will find for Ghats as most maps are hand drawn.

The upper or first part of the ghat is at the mouth of the gorge where the river enters the narrow walls of the ghat. This point is the narrowest and highest. This is the part of the gorge that has the Leaping Tiger Rock. In the middle or second stage of the gorge, the river descends 100 meters and the flow increases.

In the lower or third stage of the ghats the river flows at its fastest and the cliffs there are steeper and more dangerous than in other parts.

Two signs

There are two trails through the ghat, the upper trail which goes along the top of the ghat and the lower trail which follows the river at the bottom of the ghat. These two trails are very different and cater to different types of tourists so read carefully which one you choose before you enter the ghats.

Upper walkway

This trail is on the north side of the ghats, 22 kilometers long and offers the most amazing views and an extreme experience. With an average elevation of 2,700 meters above sea level and an average elevation of 1,000 meters above the river, the views are simply amazing. The trail is as narrow as 20cm wide in some parts and looking down is a great adrenaline rush.

The upper trail is the most difficult, dangerous trail and requires minimal fitness and ideally some trekking experience. Don’t worry too much about the upper trail. If you’re in reasonable shape, you can complete the route by taking your time, taking frequent breaks and spending a few nights in the ghats at guest houses scattered along the trail. The hardest part of the trail is the first section where you climb a series of 28 switchbacks clearly visible on the map.

The trail has various micro-ecosystems that will change as you progress and also has several waterfalls that offer refreshing pit stops. Almost all Chinese tourists take the lower trail so you will find this trail to be peaceful and secluded. The people using this trail are mainly foreigners and local Naxi. I’ve heard you’ll see groups of hikers about once an hour.

A hike on the upper trail takes 1.5 to 3 days to complete, with 2 days being the norm. Guest house prices on the trail range from around 20RMB for cheap hostels to 150RMB for more expensive double rooms.

Lower Trail

This trail is easy, flat and boring. Many people travel by bus on this trail. This trail is very popular with Chinese tourists. Unlike the upper trail which follows the cliff, this trail follows the river so you get more views of the river. Not one kilometer above ground level!

There isn’t much I can say about the lower trail.

Recommended increase

Day 1 – You will start the day in Qiaotu, a small town at the top of a gorge and end the day at the Halfway Guest House which is literally the halfway point of the hike. It will take approximately 6 hours and cover 17 kilometers.

After the first two hours of the ferry you will reach Naxi Family Guest House which is an ideal place to stop for lunch and relax. The next part of the hike will take two hours and there you will have to make some efforts to climb 28 switchbacks. Once you’ve completed the last switchback, collapse and rest, then head to the halfway guest house for the final two hours.

Day 2 – Start the day at Half Way Guest House and end the day at Daju.

Hike for about 2 hours through some amazing waterfalls and small valleys to Tina’s guest house. Rest here for over an hour and then continue on a cliff-side riverside trail where you’ll see the main attraction of Leaping Tiger Gorge, the Mantianxing Reef.

At this point the river descends to about 100 meters where the rocks have a random pattern breaking the water. Like a star falling into a river, the river breaks on the rocks. Hence the name Mantianxing which means all the stars in the sky in Chinese. A very impressive sight.

Continue two hours by road to the lower gorge to a ferry that will take you across the river to the small town of Daju where you can catch a bus for the 3 hour journey to Lijiang.

Best times to go

May and early June are the best times to visit Leaping Tiger Gorge as the weather is perfect for hiking and the trees and flowers are in full bloom. October and November are also good times to go.

June to September is the rainy season which makes the trails dangerous so avoid visiting during these months.

At an altitude of 2,700 meters, the trails will be cold and uncomfortable in winter so try to avoid visiting during this time as well.

get there

You will find buses around Lijiang that will take you to Qiaotou. The journey from Lijaing to Qiaotou takes about one hour. The bus will drop you off either in Qiaotu or just outside the bridge, which will take you to the ticket office at the entrance to the pier.

From the ticket office, walk until you reach the school (about 200 meters). Continue past the school and take a small road on the left which leads to a steep path. There will be plenty of colored arrows pointing the way.

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