Crouching Tiger Gorge
Crouching Tiger Gorge is one of the deepest in the world. It is surrounded by the best hiking trail in the Lijiang area. The area around it is very picturesque. Foreign hikers began to explore this area in the 1980s. Along the trail, inexpensive hotels and guesthouses were built especially for such tourists. The section of the Yangtze River in the area of the gorge is not suitable for navigation. Along the Yangtze riverbed at the bottom of the gorge is a road, on which special tourist buses run. This route is very popular among Chinese tourists. People who hike the trail at the top of the gorge are mostly foreigners. Rare groups of hikers are encountered while hiking along the trail. Occasionally, local Naxi people can be found on the trail. The views during the hike and the bus tour are spectacular.
View in detail
The valley is part of the Three Parallel Rivers Natural Area, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is an area of unique wildlife, the place where three of Asia’s greatest rivers originate. Different ecological and climatic zones meet here, and this gives rise to a huge variety of species. Rare species of plants and animals are found in the area of the gorge. The Crouching Tiger Gorge is one of the best natural attractions in southwest China.
The gorge is divided into three parts: the Upper Gorge, the Middle Gorge and the Lower Gorge. The entire valley is about 18 kilometers long. It stretches from the southwest to the northeast. The valley is between Hutiaoxia Zheng (Crouching Tiger Gorge City), also called Qiaotou, in the Upper Gorge area, and Daju City, located next to the Lower Gorge. The gorge is located near the source of the Yangtze, which is the world’s third longest river. The Yangtze is considered to be China’s main river. Famous places are the mouth of the Upper Gorge and the Crouching Tiger Rock area. In the Middle Gorge, these are the Mantianxing (Heaven Full of Stars) and Yixiantian areas. There are many mountain streams in the Middle Gorge. In the Lower Gorge you can enjoy the views of Daju.
To the west of the valley is Mount Haba, 5,396 meters high, and to the east is Shangziudou Peak (扇子陡), 5,596 meters high. The latter is part of the Jade Dragon Mountain. The vertical distance to the Yangtze River is 3,600 meters in the western part and 3,800 meters in the eastern part. The upper trail is the main trail in the area of the gorge. It is used by tourists and locals. There are traditional style houses and inexpensive hotels along the trail. The gorge faces south, so hikers have the opportunity to bask in the sun while in the deep gorge. Most of the trail passes at an altitude of about 2700 meters. Even though the Yangtze River is not so close, you can hear its rumble as you hike the trail. Most of the Upper Trail runs about a kilometer above the river. The eastern side is often in the shadow of the nearby mountains, and the surface here is rocky, sometimes covered with snow. Closer to the river, the landscape is green.
This gorge is one of the best places for hiking and trekking. The ascent is not too difficult, except for the beginning of the ascent through the constantly changing terrain. If you hike the trail at a moderate pace and take breaks during the hike, you will only enjoy the hike. It is very convenient that there are hostels and hostels all along the trail. If you try to hike the entire trail at a fast pace, it will be quite a strain. The surrounding nature is very scenic, and most hikers are very satisfied. Although it is one of the best hiking trails in China, there are very few people on it. Mostly foreigners, mostly from America and Europe, and sometimes locals with their livestock, can be seen on the trail. During the hike there is a small group of hikers about every 1-2 hours.
There are no major hazards on the trail, but you must be careful during rain, strong winds and other unfavorable natural phenomena. When it rains, the rocks become slippery and the trail becomes viscous. If you see rock shifting in any place recently, you need to be careful. In some places, the trail becomes narrow; sometimes you have to pass by squeezing against the rock. From a safety standpoint, it is definitely better to hike the trail in a group. You can lose your bearings quite easily during the hike. Overnight spots can serve as landmarks.
Stock up on a map before you hike. The season with the most rainfall is June through September. Perhaps the best time to hike is in the fall.
If the need arises, medical care may not be of high
quality. The staff at the hospitals speak almost no English.
One of the attractions are the caves with pictures on their walls. The area was inhabited by cavemen, and evidence of their presence is sometimes found here. There are secondary trails departing from the main trail that can lead you to one of the surrounding villages. Some hikers go to the streamside area in Middle Gorge. There are two trails that lead there that are more challenging than the main trail. The upper trail stretches for 30 kilometers. That’s 19 kilometers longer than the road below along the river. If you walk, you can see more sights than tourists taking a bus tour.
Recommended hiking tour.
There is currently one trail that runs throughout the valley. It is called the Upper Trail. We suggest the following 2-day walking tour.
Day 1: Section from Qiaotou to Halfway Guesthouse
The first day is a hike from Qiaotou to Halfway Guesthouse. The total length of the route on the first day is about 17 kilometers. Travel time is 6 hours. The Halfway Guesthouse, as the name suggests, is halfway along the entire Upper Trail. First, it is a two-hour walk to the Nasi Family Guesthouse. Lunch at the gesthouse. Then another two hours to a section called “28 Bends.” Breakdown. The scenery all around is stunning. The scenery is unforgettable. After the rest stop, it is another two hours of hiking, at the end of which we arrive at the Halfway Guesthouse. The views from this place are magnificent, overlooking the snowy Yulong Mountain and the Jinsha River Valley. The views can be enjoyed from the observation deck. The hostel provides clean beds and hot showers.
Day 2: Section from Halfway Guesthouse to Lower Gorge.
Descend in two hours to the guesthouse “At Tina’s”. Along the way there are waterfalls and gorges. Within an hour descend on a secondary trail along a steep cliff to the Jinsha River bank. Exploring the reefs of Mantianxing. This is another narrow part of the gorge. Continuing along the road to the Lower Gorge (about an hour and a half to two hours). A ferry leaves from here to Daju. If you are interested in hiking in Crouching Tiger Gorge we can create a unique tour especially for you.
Click on the map to enlarge.
- The hike is uncomplicated, except for a section called 28 Bends, which you hike on the first day of the proposed tour. The hike begins with a fairly steep climb. For about one hour, you will need to put in quite a lot of effort. There are only simple inns along the way.
- There are two new cafes in the town of Crouching Tiger Gorge, offering Western-style food and Internet access. Be careful while trekking, especially on slippery rocky areas. Shoes with non-slip soles are recommended.
- Best time to go: The worst time is the rainy season, which lasts from June to September. You may be too cold in winter at 2700 m altitude. The best time, in our opinion, is October, November and May. You can travel light. Food, drinks and places to stay overnight can be found on the trail. Some hotels do not provide clean linens. You may want to bring your own sheets. Be sure to bring rain gear and a container of water.
- Dress appropriately for mountain conditions : Safety: Although the trail is often hiked by hikers, from a safety standpoint it is best not to hike alone. If necessary, medical care in the settlements may not be of high quality. The staff may not know English at all. Make sure you have a map before you go.
The Yangtze River in Yunnan Province is called the Golden Sands River. Near the entrance of the gorge in the middle of the river, there is a block of stone called the Rock of the Crouching Tiger. According to the local people, a tiger crossed the river at this place, taking advantage of this rock. This is actually the answer to the question about the name of the Crouching Tiger Gorge. The distance between the bank and the cliff is 25 meters.
Foreign hikers began to explore this area in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the area began to develop tourism. In 2003, the Gorge of the Crouching Tiger was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In 2007, proposals to build a dam in the area of the Gorge were rejected by the provincial government.
The gorge is an obstacle to river transport. The gorge was first passed by ship in 1986. In September 1986, a Chinese rafting team conquered the Gorge of the Crouching Tiger. Two members of the team were killed.
The Gorge is on the west side of Jade Dragon Mountain. The bus from Lijiang to Qiaotou takes about an hour.
Types of recreation
- Enjoying the views.
- Excursion by bus through the lower part of the gorge. You can combine a hike and a bus tour. The views at the bottom of the gorge next to the river are stunning.
- Trekking, overnight stays in hotels.
- Recreation in a semi-wilderness area.
Nearby are the highlands on the west side of Mt. Yulun. Stairs leading up to 4,600 m to the peak in Glacier Park. Lugu Lake and the First Bend of the Yangtze River.
Individual Tours Recommended
Lijiang City Classics
The history of Lijiang City is more than 1,000 years old. In this tour you can see the beauty of ethnic diversity and learn the ancient culture of China.
Walk to the Leaping Tiger Gorge Lijiang, Zhongdian,
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Jumping Tiger Gorge. China
In southwestern China in the Sino-Tibetan Mountains, the famous Yangtze River flows through the beautiful Hutiaoxia Gorge. But the place is better known as Leaping Tiger Gorge. A 15-kilometer stretch of the river divides the Yulunxueshan (up to 5,596 meters high) and Habasyueshan (up to 5,396 meters high) mountain ranges.
Leaping Tiger Gorge on the map
- Geographical coordinates 27.216974, 100.134853
- Distance from Chinese capital Beijing about 2000 km
- Distance to the nearest airport in Lijiang County about 60km
The gorge is located in Yunnan province 60 kilometers north of Lijiang city. The name of the gorge comes from an old legend. A long time ago, a very fast and agile tiger, fleeing from hunters, was able to jump over the river in a place where its width was as much as 30 meters, and in the middle was a large stone. The tiger survived, and the gorge became known as Jumping Tiger Gorge.
The Golden Sands River (as the Yangtze is called in the area), forms a whole cascade of rapids here. They are quite dangerous to pass, but this does not stop lovers of rafting.
The first attempt to cross the gorge by Chinese rafters in 1980 ended in tragedy – the guys disappeared in the turbulent streams of water. They were never found. Another Chinese team in 1986 still conquered the rapids. If you do not need such extreme, it is better to pay attention to the Verdon Gorge in France.
The Gorge of the Leaping Tiger in tourism
For tourists access to the Leaping Tiger Gorge was allowed only in 1993. The main routes are two Upper and Lower.
The Lower one is an ordinary road. It is possible to walk along this path. It is located in close proximity to the Yangtze River. The choice is yours, but it is better to take the second option.
The upper path goes along the left side of the gorge. Slow trip along it usually takes a couple of days. The views from this path are unbelievable, especially on mountains-five-thousanders (of course, that is their height, not the cost).
You can spend more time in the hike and enjoy the views from the heart. And for such sophisticated hikers, there are several guesthouses along the way, similar to those on the way to Mt. Fujiima in Japan. These houses, gest-houses (as they are called in English), are quite comfortable and inexpensive, although they look ungainly at first glance. And built in places where the view from the window never ceases to amaze the imagination. Rest and meals here are organized at a high level, literally and figuratively.
The entrance to the gorge was made for a fee. There are barriers on the road, cash registers and guards. And don’t try to enter the gorge without a ticket, it won’t work. First, there are cameras at all entrances. Second, even if you get into the territory of the gorge unnoticed (as you think) – do not rejoice. The guards do not eat their bread for nothing. Most likely, you will not go to jail, but politely asked to buy a ticket. So be prudent – take care of a legal visit to this beautiful place.
Walking along the paths of the gorge, you will surely notice interesting fields that are like two drops of rice terraces in the Huanglong Valley. However, here, their area and size are much more modest.
Actually, what you think are the sights of the world, is actually the usual place of residence of the local population. Here, as well as thousands of years ago, people live, grow crops, and now even work in the field of tourism. After all, since the official opening of the Gorge for travelers, wishing to wander through it every year becomes more and more.
You can get lost only if you try very hard. Everywhere along the route you can find signs. You can see red arrows on the stones or usual signs showing directions to the guest houses and the time en route. On the route there is a place called “28 turns”. It is considered the most difficult part of the trail. But as you gradually make your way through it, while admiring the surroundings, you are unlikely to feel overwhelmed.
Walking and filling your camera with tons of pictures, do not forget the basic rules of hiking. Experienced travelers advise to take a lot of water with you. It may seem strange, but the sunscreen will also be very useful, because it is the mountains. And in the mountains, as we know, to get burnt in the sun is very easy. And, of course, the shoes should be comfortable and practical. The weather in the Gorge of the Leaping Tiger is changeable – a jacket and a small set of warm clothes will be nice.