Introduction to Tiger Leaping Gorge

A couple of hours drive north-west of Lijiang is one of China’s most stunning natural wonders. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest river canyons in the world. Here the mighty Yangtze River (known in Yunnan Province as the Jinsha River) gushes between two colossal mountains as it makes its long journey to the East China Sea. The peaks of Yulong Snow Mountain on one side and Haba Mountain on the other soar to well over 5000 meters and are coated in snow year round. Down in the canyon, the mountainsides are a sea of greenery most of the year. This is the setting of Tiger Leaping Gorge: snow-capped peaks against a deep blue sky and soaring mountains plummeting into a green valley where one of the world’s great rivers surges between towering cliff-faces.

Tiger Leaping Gorge has been officially opened to foreign tourists in 1993. Since then there has been much development and a road now runs through the gorge making it very easy to visit. Day tours can be organised from Lijiang. But while the scenery is wonderful, Tiger Leaping Gorge has achieved its fame due to the trek you can do through it. The hike is a wonderful experience. Most travelers do it in two days with an overnight stay at one of the many guesthouses along the trail. You could theoretically do it in one day but you would need to arrive in Qiaotou very early. If you only have one day to spare, then it would be best to forego the hike and just take a taxi from Qiaotou to Tina’s or Walnut Garden and explore a bit from there. There are plenty of options for extending the trek if you want to spend longer in the area.

Tiger Leaping Gorge is a must-see for anyone visiting Lijiang or, indeed, anyone visiting Yunnan Province. And any able-bodied person should really do the hike rather than just taking a car out there. It’s well worth the time and effort.

Where: Two hours drive north-west of Lijiang. Admission: ¥50