Pete Sweeney (more chengdu)|
60km from Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County. Tiger Leaping Gorge in Zhongdian County. It's nestled between Yulong Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain.
It might seem redundant to write about one of China’s most famous outdoor death-marches, but the wonders of Yunnan’s Tiger Leaping Gorge are, in your correspondent’s opinion, worth reiterating, particularly given persistent rumors that the gorge is destined to be dammed/damned by local authorities.
The gorge itself is a deep…well…gorge, carved between mountains by the Yangze river, and the hike runs along a narrow footpath above the gorge, through small villages, corn fields, waterfalls, and the occasional herd of goats tripping along the precipices. The views are magnificent, indescribable, and other praising adjectives as well. The gorge is simply too vast in scope to photograph without a 360˚ lens.
Helpful hints: get to the trailhead the day before, spend the night, and then start early. Carry next to nothing except money and a toothbrush. The first phase of the hike features a brutal, altitude devouring, grade, and almost everything you’d need can be bought along the way. I recommend doing the bulk of the hike on the first day, getting to the Halfway House hostel, and then spending the next day doing nothing except for eating and maybe wandering around the local area and seeing what peasant life is like when it’s lived on a near 90˚ slope. If you must cheat, you can do it on mule-back for about 100RMB, but you need to be okay with the mule getting beaten like a . . . mule by its owner. Do check the weather before you go. Hiking this gorge in the rain is not only miserable it’s dangerous.
Tiger Leaping Gorge can be reached by bus out of Kunming or by heading to Lijiang (another prominent “traditional” tourist trap which can be worth a day) via Panzhihua, and then catching another bus from there. Basically you should allow yourself two days to get to the trailhead, and at least another three days hiking (four or five is optimum, two is stupid).
Admission Fee: 30RMB
There are 4 or 5 buses from Zhongdian to Tiger Leaping Gorge every day, normally 4 people can take a bus for about 60RMB. A half day is sufficient for visiting the upper portion of Tiger Leaping Gorge. To experience all of Tiger Leaping Gorge it is best to travel by ferry. There are two piers (one old, one new) to leave from. We suggest the new one. The ferry costs 15RMB/person. You will arrive at the Naxi Haika Village.
Leave from Zhongdian, you can charter a bus to the lower portion for 600-700RMB, the journey takes 5.5 hours and covers a total of 179km.