Hutiao (Tiger Leaping) Gorge
Tiger Leaping Gorge is on the Jinsha River of the upper reaches of the Yangtze) is located 105 kilometers south of Zhongdian County. The gorge is 17 kilometers long with a drop of 213 meters.
The gorge is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle and Lower Hutiao. At the narrowest spot the river is only 30 meters wide. The mouth of the gorge is 1,800 meters above sea level. The river is flanked by Yulong and Haba snow mountains, with a height difference of 3,900 meters. It is one of the deepest gorges in the world.
Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge
Flowing through Shigu Town, the Jinsha River is flanked by the Yulong Snow Mountain to the east and the Haba Snow Mountain to the west. From the top of the Yulong Snow Mountain to the bottom of the gully is a drop of 3,700 meters, making it 1,800 meters deeper than the Colorado Grand Canyon, while the Haba Snow Mountain slopes gradually in its upper regions and is steeper further down. The mountain is 5,396 meters above sea level and the lowest point on the bank of the Jinsha River is 1,550 meters above sea level. The two mountains flanking the Jinsha River form a 15-km Gorge — Tiger Leaping Gorge, further classified into the upper, middle and lower Tiger Leaping Gorge.
The Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge is the narrowest section, and in the center of the river is a huge rock called Tiger Leaping Rock. It is said that a tiger once leapt from the east bank, clearing the rock, to land on the west bank, hence its name.
Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge
The most perilous section is the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, which features a huge drop in water level. Six km away from the upper gorge is a waterfall where the river crashes down over 100 meters hitting the rocks in the river bed and creating violent currents.
In one 100-meter section are numerous reefs, and the current is torrential. The gorge is rarely traversed by humans, but on the slope between the Middle and Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge there is a small village — Hetaoyuan Village, which has little contact with the outside, and where villagers lead a simple and natural life, dwelling in stone-plate houses.
Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge
The most important sight in the lower gorge is the Feixing Rapids, from which people can look down on the unconstrained Jinshajiang River. A 32 km long road from the Haba Mountain to Jiangbian Village has been opened to traffic, but traveling on foot is much more interesting.
From Wlanut Grove to Haba, via Jiangbian, it is seven to eight hours. From here to the Yi village of Sanba is about the same, following trails. You could just follow the road and hitch with the occasional truck or tracker but this way is longer and less scenic. Some hardy mountain bikers have followed the trails but this is really only fun from north to south, elevations being what they are. The best way would be to hire a guide.
In Haba most people stay at Haba Snow Mountain Inn; In Sanba the Shanzhuangluguan. From Sanba there is an 8 am bus to Zhongdian (five hours), or you could get off at the turn-off to Emerald Pagoda Lake (Bita Lake, 25 km east of Zhongdia) and hike there.
Trekking Routes in Tiger Leaping Gorge
There are three routes. One can start from Hutiaoxia Town along the river to Daju in Lijiang County, or go upstream from Daju. The third route sets out from Hutiaoxia Town to Hetao-yuan and is 28 km in length.
An adventurous add-on to the gorge trek is to continue north all the way to Haba village and the limestone terraces of Baishuitai, making it a four-day trek from Qiaotou. From here you will travel on to Zhongdian.
Carrying a bag, walking among people in different colors of skin and speaking different languages, you are not on Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris but Tiger-leaping orge, the world famous place for people to ravel on foot. You can begin from the upper or lower part of the gorge and finish the trip in three days. It will be a safe trip. However, the dangerousness of the gorge itself will make it more difficult for ordinary travelers.
The Tiger Leaping Gorge stretches from the Qiaotou village through the Zhongdian County and eventually ends at the Daju village, Lijiang City. The gorge is 18 kilometers long situating along the upriver of the Jinsha River, or the Golden Sand River. It can be divided into three parts based upon its hypsography characteristics: the upper gorge, the middle gorge and the lower gorge. The most famous scenic spots are the Mouth of the Gorge and the Tiger Leaping Pebble, both of which are on the upper gorge.
The Mantianxing Reefs Area and the Yixiantian in the middle gorge are the two most famously known dangerous spots. One can tell the arduousness from their names, Mantianxing Reefs meaning that there are so many reefs that it looks like a starring sky, and Yixiantian meaning huge rock cracks.
The name of the Tiger Leaping Gorge comes from a legend. The story goes like this: once upon a time, there was a tiger trying to leap across the narrowest part of the gorge, which was merely 30 meters wide. The reefs in the gorge are grotesque in shape. There are 21 rapids, 10 waterfalls and 7 10-meter drops along the Golden Sand River.
Geographically speaking, the Tiger Leaping Gorge is formed as a result of crust movement in Jinsha River area and the Yulong Snow Mountain (the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain).The gorge is not only a scenic area but also a place with abundant natural resources. Experts believe that it is feasible to build a hydroelectric dam at Tiger Leaping Gorge.
The Tiger Leaping Gorge area is the birthplace of the ancient culture of Lijing. There are many caves that were naturally formed houses for the ancient primitives. Rock paintings and carvings found in the caves depict the lives of ancient tribes. It has become one of the most popular tourist attractions at Tiger Leaping Gorge.
Explore the Tiger Leaping Gorge
The Tiger Leaping Gorge is recognized as the first gorge of the Yangtze River. In the early 1930’s, an American scholar Joseph F. Rock, flew over the gorge three times and took a lot of photos of the gorge; these photos were published making the Tier Leaping Gorge one of the most famous and popular adventurous spots for explorers all over the world. It is also regarded as one of the top ten hottest hiking routes in China.
Flowing through the mountain pass of the upper gorge, swashing the Tiger Leaping Pebble and sandwiched by two snow-capped mountains, the Golden Sand River is such an amaze and wonder. Violent whirlpools, fierce strikes to the river banks, soaring waves, shrouding clouds and mist create an unbelievably adventurous holy land that attracts tens of thousands explorers and adventurers.
September 1986, the Chinese Yangtze River Drifting Team managed to cruise down the Tiger Leaping Gorge for the first time in history with the price of two precious lives, Sun Zhiling one of the members in the team and a journalist whose name was not revealed from the “Youth World” magazine.
The Tiger Leaping Gorge is said to be hikers’ heaven. There are two popular routes. The first starts from the Lijing AncientTown, through the Lashihai and arrives at the Qiaotou (the Hutiaoxia Town or the Tiger Leaping Town). It provides path into the upper gorge and the east foot of the Haba Snow Mountain. It is a two-day walk route through the gorge.
The second route starts from the Ganhaizi (the Dry Sea) on the eastern slop of the Yulong Snow Mountain (the Jade Snow Mountain), passes through the lower Tiger Leaping Gorge at theDaju County of the Lijing Ancient Town, then goes along the Jinsha River, and eventually arrives at the Tiger Leaping gorge of the upper gorge.
The tourism department of Lijing city has been planning on constructing a plank road on the slop of the Yulong Snow Mountain to connect the travel routes of the Yulong Snow Mountain making it a more entertaining and adventurous attraction.