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Tiger Leaping Gorge

Sitting in the northeast area of Yulong Naxi Autonomous County, 105km from Zhongdian County(中甸县城) and 35km from Stone Drum(石鼓镇), Tiger Leaping Gorge(虎跳峡) belongs to the upper section of Yangtze River and Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas World Heritage Site. Featuring steep terrain and turbulent torrents, it ranks as one of the most spectacular and deepest grand canyons in the world. After forming the first bend of Yangtze River in Stone Drum Town, Jinsha River( Golden Sands River,金沙江,the upper tributary section of Yangtze River)) turns northward and squeezes its way 16km along the 5596-meters-high Jade Dragon Snow Mountain on the east and the 5396meters high Haba Snow Mountain(哈巴雪山) on the west, staging a breathtaking natural spectacle which lures adventurers like a magnetic. In 2005, this gorge was evaluated as the second most beautiful grand canyons in China, just next to the Yarlung Tsangpo Grand Canyon, the deepest canyon in the world.

The 13-meter-high Tiger Jumping Rock, the narrowest point of Tiger Leaping Gorge

Varying from 30m to 60m in width, Jingsha River in Tiger Leaping Gorge section flows like a ribbon along the snow-capped mountains on both sides which thrust themselves into the sky abruptly from 2500m to 3000m above the river water. Frequently harassed by landslides during the past, Tiger Leaping Gorge’s landscape breathes of a weathered flavor.

About this gorge, there is a beautiful legend. Jinsha River, Nujiang River, Lancang River (the upper reaches of Mekong River), Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain are sisters and brothers. When Jinsha River, Nujiang River and Langcang River, three sisters came of age, they hung out to choose husband by themselves secretly. Worried and upset, their parents sent Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain to chase after them. These two brothers took the shortcut and waited in Lijiang Ancient City for their sisters. According to the rule, who let go of their sisters will have his head get cut. Finally, one of their sisters, Jinsha River showed up. However, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain fell asleep at that time and it was Haba who was on guard. Haba has a weakness, he will fall asleep easily. Thus, Jinsha River hummed an enchanting tune to Haba, and Haba was lulled to sleep in no time. When Jade Dragon Snow Mountain woke up, Jinsha River has gone far away. To keep the appointment, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain had no choice but to cut Haba’s head. Overwhelmed by grief, Jade Dragon Snow Mountain’s tears runed into two rivers: Baishui( White River,白水) and Heishui(Black River黑水). The twelve bows of Haba turned into the 24 bends in Tiger Leaping Gorge and his head became the famous 13-meter-high Tiger Jumping Rock which sits amid the turbulent rapids.

Middle Section of Tiger Jumping Gorge

This consistently running river forms seven mighty waterfalls with relative height of 170meters, producing thundering voices will can reach several miles away. Exhausted by the long trek, Jingsha River pauses to form 21 hazardous rapids, which posing as great obstacles to navigate its course. This gorge consists of three sections: Upper, middle and lower. Located 9km from Tiger Leaping Gorge Town, the Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge harbors the famous Tiger Jumping Rock, the landmark of the narrowest point of this gorge. Waters dash against this rock persistently, producing deafening voices which reverberate amid the valleys. This is the most frequently visited section. Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge is 5km from the upper section. Jinsha River plummets down like from heaven in this section. Mantianxing Rock Area( Starry Sky Rock Area, “满天星”礁石区), the most dangerous area in this section, boasts rushing turmoil and densely distributed rocks. Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge which boasts a giant gully measuring 1km in length and depth, is the best site to appreciate this gorge.

Hiking along the mountains above Tiger Jumping Gorge

Travel Tips of Tiger Jumping Gorge

Admission Fee: 30RMB

Advised Tour Time: Two to three days

Location: it sits between Shangri-La and Lijiang, 60km from Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County

Best Travel Season: with an average attitude of over 3300m, Tiger Leaping Gorge features constantly changing weather and temperature varies dramatically during day and night. You can experience four seasons within one day here. Coat, down clothes, gloves, anti-slippery boots, sunscreens, hats, sunglasses should be put on your list. June to September is the rainy season here. After October, it is get colder each day. You can time the visit during spring and summer. The weather is mild and the grasslands will be carpeted with colorful flowers. Besides, the 20 days after Mid Autumn’s Day(August 15,lunar calendar) is another golden period: Shangri-la’s Diqing Plateau nearby is a fairyland at this time.

Hotel: there are no hotels inside of this gorge, and the closest hotels are in Tiger Leaping Gorge Town which is 9km away.

How to get there: Choice one: take a bus from Lijiang, it will take 2 hours . Choice two: rent a car in Sifang Street. This is also the most convenient way. Back and forth will cost 200RMB.

How to tour this gorge

1 To save time and energy, you can tour this gorge by car

2 Hike along the left bank of Tiger Leaping Gorge to appreciate its upper, middle and lower section

3 Hike the Haba Snow Mountain Path to see the snow mountain and overlook this gorge at your foot

 Trek along the moutains above Tiger Leaping Gorge


(1)Tiger Leaping Gorge Town to Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge(12km): It is accessible by car or taxi,the cost is around 20 to 30RMB . One hour is needed to trek from the parking lot to the famous Tiger Jumping Rock. Generally speaking, most people only visit the Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge to see the Tiger Jumping Rock and go back to Lijiang Ancient City within one day.

(2)Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge: Measuring only 16km long, this section will take three and half a hour to tour. Harassed by landslide and rockslides often, it is less frequented by tourists. Due to the more inviting scenery, many backpackers venture into its depth by their own. Once there was an Italian girl married to a local man and they started a hotel there, their romance was reported by CCTV. If you want to go to Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can rent a car and ask your driver to wait there for you. 

(3) Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge to Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge: There is one hotel in the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge,which provides travel service and horse renting to visitors with fair price. To tour this section, a guide is necessary for there is no regular road and the path is very dangerous. 4 hours is needed to trek this section. Hotel here will only charge 20RMB per night. In Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge and Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge, you have to eat in your hotels with fair price.

You can appreciate the most fatastic view of snow moutains, waterfalls and Tiger Leaping Gorge under your foot

Dos and Don’ts

Bring shorts, T-shirt and coats with you, for it is hot during daytime and cold during night

To keep you energy, bring some chocolate and beefs

Be extremely careful when you are passing the big gully waterfall between the Walnut Orchard and Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge Hotel(Zhongxia Hotel,中峡旅馆). For rocks will fall down even in sunny days

To avoid high altitude sickness, do not walk too fast
Advised Hiking Route

Day 1: leave from Lijiang in the noon----Tiger Leaping Gorge Town(虎跳峡镇), also known as Qiaotou(桥头)----Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge---Hiking from Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge for 40minutes before reaching Naxi Yage Hotel

Day 2: Leaves the Naxi Yage Hotel----28 twists(28道拐)---Chama Hotel(茶马客栈)----Half way----tina’s----Teacher Zhang’s Hotel

Day 3: Teacher Zhang’s Hotel---Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge----One Stripe of Sky(一线天)---Wulnut Orchard(核桃园)---cross the river in Xindukou(新渡口过江)----take the bus to Lijiang
tiger leaping gorge hiking map
Author: Sophia   Posted on Oct 21, 2012
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