Tiger Leaping Gorge is situated about 100km northwest of Lijiang Old Town and it lies between the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Haba Snow Mountain. I found it interesting that the right bank is administered by the Yulong Naxi Automomous County of Lijiang City and the left bank by Shangrila County of Diqing Tibetan Automomous Prefecture and I have visited the gorge from both sides.
It is also known as Hutiao Xia and is believed to be one of the deepest gorge in the world. Looking from the top of the gorge you will see the steep mountain sides and the rushing Jinsha river with 18 rapids about 200m below.
The gorge divides into 3 sections, where the 1st section is the uppermost and narrowest part and the mouth of fast flowing Jinsha River.
There are numerous waterfalls along the route which unfortunately are dry this spring as there was hardly any rainfall.
For the adventurous you can take the high road and hike Tiger Leaping Gorge in 2-3 days. The other option which I took was a 2.6km flat walking street running close to the water on the right side of the Jinsha river which you can cover easily in 3 hours.
The gorge derived its name from an ancient legend that tells of a tiger escaping from a hunter, that leaped across the rock in the middle in a bid to get from one side to the other. The narrowest point of the ravine is about 20m wide.
In the middle section of the Hutiao Xia, it drops a further 100m and the flow rate increases to an amazing speed.
We unfortunately did not get to see the thunderous rushing waters slamming into the large rocks and the swirling whirlpools as the tide was rather low at this time but it does not make the walk any less interesting because the view was simply spectacular to say the least.
The 3rd and lowest section is the wildest and most dangerous as the river twists and turns and the surging river creates high waves as it collides with the mountainsides especially during the wet season.
What we did was a 1 hour banana boat ride from the 1st Bend of the Yangtze river which was relaxing and truly enjoyable. The only drawback was that they did not build a proper disembarkation point and we had to climb up a challenging steep and sandy riverbank just as it was starting to drizzle.
Here you can see the pedestrian path that has been painstakingly carved out from the mountain cliff, so that tourist can gain access to and view the central part of Tiger Leaping Gorge without having to trek for days. They spared no expense and built this walkway to the resounding tune of RMB26 million.
It was an overcast day with a slight drizzle but it made brisk walking very comfortable as it kept us warm in the cold outdoors.There are rickshaw rides available for those who are mobility-challenged but for the rest of us, this scenic and invigorating 2.6km walk is one experience not to be missed. I give it a thumbs up!