The Tiger Leaping Gorge
The Tiger Leaping Gorge is located in Yunnan province, around 30 miles north of the marvelous but admittedly overrun destination of Lijiang City.
The Tiger Leaping Gorge is the deepest gorge in the world, with a maximum depth of around 3,700 meters (12,434 feet) from river below to mountain peak above.
Surging through the gorge, the speedy and wild Jinsha river transports an enormous amount of water through the astoundingly narrow rifts, in a grand display of a spectacular and mighty force. Massive rocks, which once fell into the flow from above the peaks and remained, dramatize the site even more as the water rolling with freefalling speed collides with them.
Through the centuries, mythical stories were told of this place, one of it being a tiger who was frequently seen skipping across the river by leaping between the fallen rocks, hence the name, Tiger Leaping Gorge.
The road built in the Tiger Leaping Gorge
Such places of natural wonders, and mythical stories attached to it, would surely give enough reason for the masses to pay a visit, and eventually the Chinese would build roads for them, no matter how high or deep. The site will have an entrance, with a fee. Tiger Leaping Gorge was no exception.
One of the enormous rocks in the river was entitled as the one which the tiger leaped through, so the road was built, and now the masses are arriving in packed buses to take their compulsory selfies – but mainly just from a distance, because descending to the rock wouldn’t be an easy walk. The place where this rock lies, in the river, in the gorge, is the so-called “Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge”. There have been attempts to appropriate the title of “the rock” a few village below, but the “Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge”, indeed a magical site, could not be dethroned so far.
Taking the “high-path” of the Tiger Leaping Gorge
Fortunately, the new road between the town of Qiaotou (the entrance to the site) and the “Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge” runs at the bottom of the gorge, close to the river, meanwhile a tranquil hiking path winds high above, with breathtaking views.
Getting through the “high path” of the Tiger Leaping Gorge is a 7-8-hour long journey, with great elevation differences. The path starts from the school at the town of Qiaotou, and leads to “Tina’s Guesthouse”, somewhere above the “Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge”.
The hike is best enjoyed when done within 2 days. Overnight stay is possible at one of the guesthouses in one of the secluded Naxi villages along the “high path” (Yacha Village or Bendiwan Village). Inhabitants of the gorge are primarily the indigenous Naxi people, who live in small villages along the trail.
The dangers of hiking the Tiger Leaping Gorge
Hiking in the gorge must not to be taken casually, and even for those in a good physical shape, it would be a tough workout.
The path constricts at several points, and can be critically narrow and dangerous in some places, with a dizzy drop-off on the side. One with acrophobia would find it rather troublesome to get pass at these points.
When it rains, rocks on the narrow path can be slippery, and in the rainy season, July and August, even landslides or swollen waterfalls can block the path.
Several hikers, including foreigners, have lost their lives in the gorge.
Despite the dangers, it is a magnificent hike every single step of the way.
Where did I sleep when hiking at the Tiger Leaping Gorge?
1st night in Bendiwan village, halfway the hike:Horse and Tea Hostel
Comments: The location is absolutely amazing, and the rooms/dorms are all clean and nice. The food is delicious. Book in advance!
Book it on Booking.com: Horse and Tea Hostel
2nd night, at the end of the hike:Tina’s Hostel
Comments: The location is beautiful, but it is really busy and noisy. This is a huge guest house. The food was below average.
Book it on Booking.com: Tina’s Hostel