While researching for things to do around Lijiang; the most recommended item that I came across was a 2 day hiking trip around the Tiger Leaping Gorge. I had heard of gorges and tigers but was quite intrigued by this name as it kind of brought back images of the movie Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon and the gorgeous landscapes around which the movie had been shot. Further research yielded that the Tiger Leaping Gorge is actually a canyon and considered to be deepest gorge in the world on the Yangtze River. It is part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas World Heritage Site and is divided into three sections – Upper, Middle and Lower Hutiao. It is called the Tiger Leaping Gorge as at one particular point of the river a tiger had leaped from one corner to the other to escape a hunter.
On further research I came across loads of articles and blog posts on this trek; all filled with stunning photographs of the gorge and the snow-capped mountain peaks all around. I was not surprised to know that this area is known for some of the best and most naturally beautiful and diverse treks in China. Numerous trails run high in the gorge passing through beautiful landscapes, sleepy villages, verdant forests, terraced farmlands and the snow-covered peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Snow Mountain. However due to multiple reasons such as shortage of time, no local guides (these are self-guided treks), etc we couldn’t trek in this area.
Hence we chose the cheat’s way of seeing this area. We drove through the high roads and captured some shots of the beautiful scenery around, many small waterfalls, high mountain ranges all around and a river flowing below. Though we got a sense of the general landscape it was no way close to the pictures that I had seen of the treks. Hence if you travel to this area, try to trek around.
We then climbed down the numerous steps (at least 200) to the viewing platform to see this mighty river up close and personal. The river though docile and sweet mannered in other parts, takes a different avatar in this section and is literally roaring and ready to wreak havoc at anyone who dares block its path. However if you are short of time, this section is quite avoidable.
We also had a mini adventure when a small landslide blocked the way and we had to wait for the crane to clear the road. We utilized this time with some photography and revising lessons in physics when these massive rocks rolled down the mountains and either disintegrated into small stones or caught speed and rolled down perfectly intact in the river. Hence if you travel through this area, plan for such eventualities and time accordingly.