- Background Information about the Tiger Leaping Gorge
- Hikes in the Tiger Leaping Gorge
- High Trail Hike of the Tiger Leaping Gorge
- Recommended packing list for the 2-day hike in Tiger Leaping Gorge
- Getting There
- Gallery of my 2-Days High Trail Hike in the Tiger Leaping Gorge
Background Information about the Tiger Leaping Gorge:
Tiger Leaping Gorge is a breathtaking natural wonder located in the Yunnan province of China. It is considered one of the deepest canyons in the world and is a popular destination for tourists and adventurers alike. The Gorge is named after a legend in which a tiger jumped across the Jinsha River (金沙江) at the narrowest point, hence the name “Tiger Leaping”. Jinsha River is a major tributary of the Yangtze River in China. Originating in the Tibetan Plateau, the Jinsha River flows through the provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan before joining the Yangtze River in Yibin, Sichuan. It is considered one of the most scenic rivers in China and is known for its stunning landscapes and diverse ecosystems. The Jinsha River basin is home to many ethnic minority communities and is also an important source of water for agriculture and hydropower generation.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is part of a UNESCO World Heritage site (Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas) and is protected for its unique and pristine natural beauty. The Gorge is surrounded by towering peaks and is home to diverse flora and fauna, including rare species of plants and animals. The Yangtze River flows through the Gorge and provides a habitat for many species of fish and other aquatic life.
Visitors to Tiger Leaping Gorge can hike the popular trail that runs along the river, taking in the stunning scenery and experiencing the unique and rugged landscape. The trail offers stunning views of the Gorge and provides a unique opportunity to explore and connect with nature. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or simply looking to appreciate the beauty of the Gorge, a visit to Tiger Leaping Gorge is a must for anyone interested in the natural world.
Hikes in the Tiger Leaping Gorge:
The Tiger Leaping Gorge in China offers several trails and hikes to explore its stunning natural beauty. These trails range in difficulty, length, and scenic views. Below is a list of trails and hikes based on fitness levels and length: A map can be found here (external link).
The low trail is approximately 15 kilometres long and takes around 4 to 6 hours to complete. The trail is been reported that it can be dangerous due to its steep inclines, rocky terrain, and potential for inclement weather. It is recommended to be in good physical condition, properly equipped, and aware of the risks before attempting the hike.
This trail is a bit more challenging than the Lower Trail and takes about 4 hours to complete. It offers stunning views of the gorge and the river but can be a bit strenuous for those with limited fitness.
The High Trail Hike of the Tiger Leaping Gorge requires a higher level of fitness. It takes about 8 to 9 hours to complete and offers breathtaking views of the gorge and the river. The trail is steep and challenging, but well worth the effort for those up for the challenge.
This is the most challenging hike in the Tiger Leaping Gorge and is only recommended for experienced hikers. The summit hike takes about 10 hours to complete and offers panoramic views of the entire gorge. One of the key highlights of the Summit Hike is the stunning view from the summit of Haba Snow Mountain. The summit stands at an altitude of 5,396 meters and provides panoramic views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.
Regardless of your fitness level, there’s a trail or hike in the Tiger Leaping Gorge for everyone. Just make sure to prepare properly, bring plenty of water and snacks, and always be mindful of your surroundings. In this post, I will describe to you a pleasant two-day hike on the High Trail from west to east of the Tiger Leaping Gorge.
High Trail Hike of the Tiger Leaping Gorge:
The High Trail Hike of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, located near Lijiang and Shangri-La in Yunnan, China, is one of the world’s most breathtaking and exciting hikes. This two-day trip will take you from Naxi Family Guesthouse to Tina’s Guesthouse and showcases the beauty of the surrounding mountains and river.
Day One: From Naxi Family Guesthouse to Tiger Leaping Gorge Tea Horse Gasthaus (approx. 5 hours with breaks)
Start your journey at Naxi Family Guesthouse (纳西家庭旅馆) and hike along the stunning scenery of the Jinsha River (金沙江) and the surrounding mountains. In my case, the taxi was not able to get far up the street to the guesthouse, because of heavy dents in the streets from construction work close by. Therefore, my hike started close to the main street in the valley. After reaching the Naxi Family Guesthouse (1h to 1.5h), make your way up the 28 bends (28弯道). The 28 bends are for sure the most exhausting part of the hike. On the way up the 28 bends, I took a break at a small house along the way for a simple, but delicious rice dish. Here you also have the chance to watch a mule graze nearby. After the long hike upwards, you can spend 10 RMB to a local, to jump on the lookout for a stunning panoramic view of the river and the steep mountains.
As you make your way further on the high trail, you’ll see the low water levels of the blue/grey Jinsha River in the winter. On the other side of the gorge, you can watch the sun shining on the beautiful huge mountains.
You can end your day one hike at Tiger Leaping Gorge Tea Horse Gasthaus (虎跳峡茶马客栈), located in the heart of the gorge. You can get a decent dinner and breakfast here and you can get some free drinking water. It is recommended to book a room with a private washroom as the public washrooms are not well-maintained. The Tiger Leaping Gorge Tea Horse Gasthaus is better located than the Half Way Guesthouse, which is too far away from the western side of the gorge if you start closer to the valley as I did. In addition, you will have the chance to have a beautiful view of the sunset here.
Use this komoot link for Day 1: Day One of Tiger Laeping Gorge
Day Two: Tiger Leaping Gorge Tea Horse Gasthaus to Tina’s Guesthouse (approx. 4 hours with breaks)
On the second day of the High Trail Hike of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, the hike continues from the Tiger Leaping Gorge Tea Horse Gasthaus to Tina’s Guesthouse. The hike is approximately 4 hours long with breaks and includes stunning views of the surrounding mountains and river.
Wake up early and witness the beautiful sunrise over the mountains and if you are lucky some red clouds above you. After breakfast and a good cup of coffee (surprisingly the coffee from the automatic Delonghi machine was very good 🙂 , but it will cost you 20 RMB), continue your journey along the high trail (高山小径) and enjoy the slowly warming up winter temperatures when the sun slowly climbs over the mountains. The winters are very dry and will provide you with an amazing blue sky.
On your way, you will pass some small villages. Here you will also pass Judy’s guesthouse (looks very good and modern) and the Half-Way Guesthouse. I was on this hike during Chinese New Year and therefore most places on the way were closed. So bring enough drinks with you. Depending on the weather, you will see more or less water on the waterfalls on your way. I did not expect a waterfall at all this was a pleasant surprise for the second day. Overall the second day is much less exhausting than day one.
Reach Tina’s Guesthouse (Tina客栈), where you can buy bus tickets for your return trip to Lijiang or Shangri-La. Here you will also find decent food options to refuel.
Use this komoot link for Day 2: Day Two of Tiger Laeping Gorge
Here is a recommended packing list for the 2-day hike in Tiger Leaping Gorge:
- Hiking backpack with rain cover
- Comfortable hiking shoes with good grip and support
- Quick-drying and breathable clothing
- Sunhat, sunglasses, and sunblock (get some for your lips, as well!)
- Warm layers for chilly weather and a windbreaker
- Plenty of water (at least 2 litres per day)
- Snacks and energy bars
- First aid kit (including pain relievers, bandages, blister treatments, etc.)
- Headlamp or flashlight
- Power bank
- ID and some cash, In Lijiang I had some issues with 5G and LTE coverage
- Trash bags to pack out all your waste and laundry
- Camera to capture the stunning scenery
Note: Be prepared for sudden changes in weather and pack accordingly. Make sure to bring enough food and water for the entire hike and to take care of yourself and the environment by following Leave No Trace principles.
To reach Tiger Leaping Gorge from Lijiang, it is recommended to take the bus (50 RMB, >2 hours) or a taxi (more than 200 RMB and ~1h 15 minutes). The entrance fee to the gorge in winter is 37 RMB (2023).
It is recommended to stay at Tiger Leaping Gorge Tea Horse Gasthaus for an overnight stay. The rooms are simple, but the location is unbeatable. The location description on booking.com is not correct. You can find the real location of the guesthouse as my end point of Day One on Komoot. There is also a fancier option nearby with private bathtub balconies if desired.
The High Trail Hike of the Tiger Leaping Gorge is suitable for those with moderate fitness levels and is a must-visit for nature and adventure enthusiasts. This hike with the 28 bends is a challenging but rewarding experience. Take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape, and push yourself to complete the journey over the two days. The end result is a sense of accomplishment and a lasting memory of your time in the mountains. So pack your gear, lace up your hiking boots, and embark on this unforgettable adventure!
- Komoot link for Day 1: Day One of Tiger Laeping Gorge
- Komoot link for Day 2: Day Two of Tiger Laeping Gorge
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Important Note: Make sure to have your hiking boots ready, as many loose rocks will be on your way or if it is damp, it can be slippery.