Tiger Leaping Gorge


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August

Due to heavy rainfall, August might the worst time in the year to visit the Gorge if you intend to hike the upper trail. Do take a rainjacket and/or an umbrella to protect yourself. If you prefer to take a ride on the lower road, you would just have to cover yourself when getting out of your minivan/bus while going down the stairsway on the Middle Gorge Tourist spot.

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Accomodation

A dramatic increase in visitors for both the upper trail and the lower road led to a significant increase of accomodation capacity. New guesthouses open here and there and the existing one doubled or tripled their accomodation capacity. For the the most famous ones, check 'accomodation'.

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Altitude

The entrance of the gorge is the small city of Qiaotou, located at 1900 meters above sea level. The upper hiking trail will bring you up to 2650 meters high (at the end of the 28 bends) before going down to Tina's at 2100 meters high. Walnut Grove village islocated at 1950 meters high.

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Advice

Please read most pages of this small website to get most the advice you would need to visit the Gorge. Do remember the Gorge (as most of Yunnan) is located in a mountain environment which implies to have always enough gear to protect from the sun, the rain, the wind and the heat and you should have a 1.5 Liter water bottle plus a few snack with you. Start early if you want to trek and remember that whwather conditions can change pretty fast.

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Best Time to visit

The Gorge can be visited all year long but avoid the rainy season if you can (from mid June to mid September). Winter is also a good time with clear sky and beautiful light.

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Bus

As one of the most visited spot of Yunnan, hundreds of public and tourist buses are driving back and forth to the Gorge. Check 'transportation' for more info.

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China

No doubt, the Gorge is located in China and is said to be of the 3 deepest Gorge in the world. Major road renovation works in 2011 on the lower road (wider and better asphalt) increased the traffic of visitors.

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China map

The Gorge is located in Yunnan Province, at the border of Lijiang and Shangri-La prefectures. Check 'maps' for more info.

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Day Trip

Though we would rather encourage travellers to take more than a day to visit the Gorge, it is technically doable to visit it in one day only. If you intend to drive in the Gorge on the lower road and have a look at the Middle Gorge scenic spot and take pictures along the way, have a deal with your minivan driver so he can either bring back and forth to Qiaotou (where you can cath a minivan/bus to Lijiang or Shangri-La) or drive you further (to Baishuitai for example). If you intend to hike the upper trail and you are really fit, since it is 26 km long, you can start early and complete the whole trail until Tina's. But do note it is getting harder to leave the Gorge after 5pm, so make sure you reach Tina's beforehand. Last, a more resonnable way to hike the Gorge is to arrive in afternoon to Qiaotou and hike up to the Naxi Family guesthouse and sleep there. The next around 6:30 or 7am, you resume hiking and shall reach Tina's during the afternoon, leaving you plenty of time to go to your next destination. That being said, we can only recommend you to take it easy, the scenery is gorgeous enough to stay more than a day.
It is also doable to call any of the major guesthouses (Naxi Family, Tea Horse and Half Way namely) to arrange a pick up drive to drive up and enjoy the scenery, a short hike and drive back.

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Dangerous

As every mountain trail, the hiking path can be slippery by rainy day and should not be hiked by anyone having vertigo since several sections of the trail are directly looking down from a great heigh... Do note there is no proper rescue along the trail.
Going down from the lower paved road to 'touch' the water in the canyon is not recommended since all ways going down (carved pathway or ladder) are dangerous.

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Dam

Haha... hard to to tell what is the current stage about the dam project. Launched in 2004 but scrapped in 2007, local, provincial and central governments are discussing back and forth the advantages of the dam. One thing is sure, the new asphalt road took more than a year and hundreds of thousands of yuans to be re-build...

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Elevation

Qiaotou city's elevation is 1900 meters high and the highest point of the trail (at the end of the 28 bends) is less than 2700 meters high. Bendiwan village where Half Way guesthouse is located at around 2400 meter, Walnut Garden village (where Tibet guetshouse, Sean's, etc. are located) elevates at around 1950m.

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Entrance fees

Since the beginning of 2012, the entrance fee increased to 65 yuans per persons. Student discount (with valid student card) still apllies.

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Hike elevation

The hiking upper trail represents a total distance of 26 kilometers, a total ascent of 1145 meters up and a total descent of 1090 meters down. The steepest part of the trail (the '28 bends') consists in 453 meters ascent (on 2.5 km long) from 2208 meters high up to 2661 meters high with an average grade of 18.1%. Fit hikers would do that in one to 1 hour and a half.
Special Thanks to the Amiwa Yunnan-based trekking agency for providing us these figures.

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From Lijiang

Plenty of buses will depart from Lijiang to the Gorge (ask for Qiaotou or HuTiaoXia in Chinese) and to Zhongdian. Most of them will depart from Lijiang New Bust station (Xin Keyunzhan). You can also check with Mama Naxi guesthouse in Lijiang or call Tina's in the Gorge since they organise private buses everyday back and forth.

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Getting there

Check the 'Getting there and leaving it' page.

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Guide

Check the 'Trekking with a guide' page.

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Guest house

Plenty of guesthouse along the upper trail so as on the lower road by the end of the Gorge (in Walnut grove village 核桃园). Check 'accomodation' for more info.

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Hike

The TLG hike is one of the very rare trail in all Yunnan you can safely go on your own (as long you are careful of course!). 26 kilometers long with 1145 meters ascent and 1090 meters down (from Qiaotou to Tina's guesthouse).

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Hostel

See 'accomodation'.

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Hike map

Check the differents maps on the 'maps' page.

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High trail

The Gorger can be hiked on a well marked trail called the 'upper trail' or 'high trail' in comparison to the 'lower road' (paved with asphalt).

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Itinerary

The usual itinerary to hike the Gorge is to start from Qiaotou city and hike up to the Naxi Family guesthouse (2 hours) and then go through the 28 bends before heading down towards the Tea Horse guesthouse. It is then getting easier with a flatter trail until the Half Way guesthouse. A final way up after the waterfall before trekking down till Tina's guesthouse. In the 80s and 90s (the Gorge opened to foreigners in 1984), travellers would go until Walnut Garden and further on till the village of Daju on the other side of the Yangzi but it losts its interests since it is all paved now (except you want to go further from Daju to Baoshan Stone village or Lijiang).

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In One Day

Check 'D - Tiger Leaping Gorge Day Trip' above.

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July

Better than August, July remains cloudy and wet with serious rainfalls. You will enjoy the Gorge anyway but we would recommend to come another time of the year if you have the choice.

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January

January is a great time to come to the Gorge with cooler temperature and clear bright sky.

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June

June is a good time to visit the Gorge with flowers blooming along the way. Spring at its best.

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Kids

Visiting the Middle Gorge spot on the lower road with your kids is not an issue as long as they stay on the main stairsway (where all tourists go) but taking them on the upper trail is another story: after four years old, it is said kids can hike as many km per day as their age - i. e. 5 km for a 5 y.o. kid, 13 km for a 13 y.o. kid...To make sure the hike is enjoyable for all (children & parents), try to maintain the pleasure and the entertainment aspect of the hike since it is mainly psychological rather a physical challenge for kids (they can get easily bored!). Last, make sure they drink enough water (2 to 3 liter per day!) as children (just as older people) do not have the same feeling of thirst as adults.

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Ladder

In several places (namely down under the Tina's guesthouse), local people digged or carved pathways to access the wather inside the canyon. One the way down requires to use a ladder (called sometimes sky ladder). All thoses places are dangerous and risky, we recommend you not to venture to any of them!

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Location

Located at the border of Lijiang and Diqing (Deqin-Zhongdian) prefectures, the Yangzi river running inside the Gorge can be accessed on both sides: on Lijiang side no hike but only a minivan drive to see the water. On Diqing side, you have the choice between hiking the upper trail or driving on the lower road. The GPS location of the Naxi Family inside the Gorge is: N27 11.126 E100 05.300.

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Map

Check the 'maps' page.

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Margo

Margo was an Australian lady running a café at the entrance of the Gorge (before the ticket office) providing information to travellers and the chance to store luggage while hiking the Gorge. Margo passed away 2 years ago and her Café is closed.

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Malaria

No risk of getting malaria in Yunnan except in the Xishuangbanna region and along the Nujiang river (for its Southern section), so no worries with mosquitos in the Gorge.

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November

November is a good time to visit or hike in the Gorge with lush vegetation (after the rainy season).

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Near Lijiang

The Gorge is located roughly 3 hours away from Lijiang (and 5 from Dali).

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National Park

The TLG scenic spot is subject to a 65 yuans entrance fee that you have to pay either in Qiaotou or in Hetaoyuan village (Walnut Garden village). This spot should not be mistaken with Yulong mountain national park North of Lijiang (~200 yuans/person).

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One day trip

Check 'D - Tiger Leaping Gorge Day Trip' above.

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October

As for November, October is a good time to visit the Gorge with enjoyable temperatures, little or no rain and lush vegetation. But try to avoid the first week of October (called Golden week in Mainland China) with huge increase of tourists on the roads...

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Photos

Check the photos page or google image ;-)

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Path

26 km long for the upper trail. You can get more info on the various maps being given for free in the Gorge (and available here: Tiger Leaping Gorge maps)

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Qiaotou

Qiaotou also called Hutiaoxia Zhen is the small city at the South-West entrance of the Gorge, 2 hours ride from Zhongdian (Shangri-La), 3 hours from Lijiang and 5 hours from Dali Old Town.

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Route

in 2010 and 2011, the lower paved road has been enlarged and fully renovated with brand new asphalt. 22 kilometers long (until Tina's guesthouse), it goes further until Walnut Garden and then New Village (Xin Cun 新村), Haba village (哈巴村), Baishuitai (白水台) and a bunch of Yi villages until reaching the Tibetan plateau and Shangri-La city.

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Rainy season

The rainy season from mid June until mid September will affect the Gorge. Since the lower road renovation, no worries for dribing there but you should be careful when hiking the upper trail since small landslide risks exist.

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River

The TLG river is... the Yangzi river that flows until Shanghai!

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Shangri-La

Two hours by bus and a bit less by minivan seperate Shangri-La (Zhongdian) from the Gorge. A seat in a minivan costs roughly 30 yuans and if you need to rent the whole minivan, roughly 200 yuans.

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Sean's

Just as Margo was at the South-West entrance of the Gorge, Sean - a local man - has a guesthouse at the North-East entrance of the Gorge in Walnut Garden village. You can get more info here: guesthouses of the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

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Trek

Trekking in the Tiger Leaping Gorge is likely to be the best way to experience it. Open to beginners as to more experiences hikers, this 26 km long trail is rewarding with an amaizing scenery (despite too many electric poles, increasing number of concrete roads and paints on the rocks).

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Tours

You don't really need a guide or an agency to hike the Gorge except you want to integrate it into a longer tour in North Yunnan. A good bunch of agency on the internet will offer a stop in the Gorge. We want to mention our local partner, the agency Amiwa Trek (www.amiwa-trek.com).

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Trail

We would recommend travellers to take 2 to 3 days to 'do' the Gorges trail, but it is also doable to hike it all in 1 day and a half with for example a first hike in the afternoon the first guesthouse (Naxi Family, count on 7 km from Qiaotou) and then the rest of the Gorge the next day.

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Upper trail

The hiking path is commonly called 'upper trail' to distinguish it from the lower paved road.

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Weather

Ha! Hard to give precise weather info for the Gorge since the wheather can be changing quite fast. Count on 15 to 25 degrees most of the year and up to 30 degrees during summer and down to 10 degrees in winter (still quite temperate). Rainsy season from mid June to mid September.

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Yunnan

Located in the Diqing prefecture, the TLG trail is indeed located in Yunnan province.

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Yangtze (Yangzi)

With 6418 km, the Yangzi river is the longest in Asia from Qinghai until Shanghai. Named Chang Jiang 长江 (the long river) in Chinese, it takes local names in each province (Yangzi Jiang being the name close to Shanghai). In Yunnan, it is named JinSha Jiang 金沙江: the Golden Sands River.

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Zhongdian bus

Two hours by bus from Zhongdian to Qiaotou. The latest bus leaves around lunch time. From the Gorge to Shangri-La, you can easily get a ride until 4 or 5pm or take a minivan later on.