Tiger Leaping Gorge is a canyon on the Yangtze River or the Golden Sands River, located 60 km away from Lijiang Naxi Autonomous County, Lijiang City. It is 16 km long at the upstream of Jinsha River. The Tiger Leaping Gorge can be divided in to upper, middle and lower sections, winding 25 km. It has Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at east, Haba Snow Mountain at west. The vertical elevation difference of the gorge is 3790 m which is one of the deepest valley in the world. The narrowest part of the gorge was just 30 m, which is so narrow that a tiger can jump over the gorge, hence the name. Along the gorge, there are 21 dangerous shoals and 10 waterfalls.
The altitude of the entrance of the Tiger Leaping Gorge is 1800 m. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountain at the south bank is 5596 m above the sea level, while the Haba Snow Mountian at the north bank is 5386 above the sea level.
Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge, 9 km away from Tiger Leaping Township, is the narrowest part of the whole gorge. There is a giant stone in the middle of the river. It is said that once a tiger jump on the giant stone and then jump to the opposite bank.
Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge is 5 km from the upper section. “Mantianxing”reef area is the most dangerous area in this section.
Passing by the “Huashiban” which is also an dangerous area the Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge. There is a 1 km deep gully nearing the exit of the gorge, which is the best place to appriciate scenery here.
The inhabitants of the gorge are primarily the indigenous Naxi people, who live in a handful of small hamlets. Their primary subsistence comes from grain production and foreign hikers. The gorge is not considered navigable. In the early 1980s, four rafters attempted to go down the gorge and were never seen again. In 1986, the first known successful attempt to sail through the gorge was made by the first expedition to float down the entire length of the Yangtze, starting at the river's high source at the Gelandandong glacier lake.
It is said that Lijiang ruler Lord Mu was very rich at that time, there are quite a few talented people around him. One people among them had ability of fortune-telling. One day, he told Lord Mu his fortune, he said that Lord Mu was rich when he alive but he has no coffin available after death. Lord Wu was frightened, from then on anywhere he had to pass, every 10 li (li, a Chinese unit of length = 1/2 kilometer) was placing a coffin to fight against prediction. One day, the weather is wonderful, Lord Mu’s mood is admirable, he rode on his tiger, went along the side of Jinsha River where has he surging river and the picturesque riverbank. He and tiger went to a relatively narrow area, the tiger leaped to a large rock in the center of the river. The tiger landed but Lord Mu was not landing at the same time and had dropped into a rolling river. Time has passed, there left a tiger leaping gorge for future generations.
There is another beautiful legend that Jinsha River, Nujiang River, Lancang River, Jade Dragon Mountain and Hana Mountain, originally they were five brothers and sisters. Three sisters grew up and made an appointment went out to find love; their parents were worried and angry and asked Jade Dragon and Haba to run after and take them back. Jade Dragon brought 13 swords and Haba brought 12 bows, they took a shortcut to Lijiang and took turns sitting there waiting for their sisters face to face, and they made a appointment that who let three sisters slipped would be beheaded. When it was Haba’s turn to guard, Jade Dragon just asleep, Jinsha came. The way was blocked by two brothers, how to do? Clever girl Jinsha remembered that Haba had an inclination to doze off, and then she sang as she walked and sang 18 songs continuously. Tactfully moving song can indeed make Haba addicted, gradually fell asleep. Jinsha grasped the opportunity, finally rushed past from the two brothers and laughed loudly on the way. Jade Dragon woke up and saw that, angry and sad, he was angry that Jinsha has gone far, he was sad that Haba would be beheaded. He couldn't breach of contract, so he draw out the sword and cut Haba’s head, then turned back to cry bitterly, two rows of tears became a white water and black water, Haba’s twelve bows turned into 24 bends on the west bank of Tiger Leaping Gorge, and Haba’s head fell on the river and became the Tiger Leaping Stone.
There are two options to travel Tiger Leaping Gorge: one is use car which is saving time and convenient; another is hiking, tourists can hike through Haba Snow Mountain path, or can also hike gravel road to taste the beauty of Tiger Leaping Gorge. Also can put the Tiger Leaping Gorge divided into gorge landscape and the mountain landscape, upper, middle and lower Tiger Leaping Gorge scenery is gorge landscape, mainly along the gravel road on the left side of the ridge of the gorge; Mountain landscape refers to see the landscape of the Haba Snow Mountain on foot, mainly in the walking path and the scenery that can see when throw over Haba Snow Mountain and the view on the way to Zhongdian Baishuitai.
【How to get to Tiger Leaping Gorge】
1. There are two buses depart (8:00 and 8:30) from Lijiang to Tiger Leaping Gorge Town directly. Or you can take bus from Lijiang to Shangri-La County, and drop off at Tiger Leaping Gorge Town.
2. There are many buses from Shangri-La County to Lijiang, getting off at Tiget Leaping Gorge Town.
• Car rental
From Lijiang, tourists can charter a car or car pooling to Tiger Leaping Gorge, the price is varied according to different type of car.
There is no accommodation in the Tiger Leaping Gorge Scenic Spot, the nearest accommodation is in Tiger Leaping Gorge Town where is 9 km away from the scenic spot.
【Best time to travel Tiger Leaping Gorge】
Between April and June in the late spring and early summer and the autumn time during September to October is the best time to travel. During these two periods it is suitable to go hiking on the Tiger Leaping Gorge, also can see the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain scenery. The late spring and early summer the temperature is moderate, flowers on the meadow blooming like a piece of brocade which is charming.
After about 20 days of Mid-Autumn Festival, the plateau is autumn secnery which is the most wonderful time of Diqing plateau.
From June to September is the rainy season of Diqing plateau, although the scenery is beautiful, but not suitable to travel.
After October the temperature is very low, if one wants to visit need to bring enough warm clothes.
Tiger Leaping Gorge even in August is also likely to fall a few snowflakes, and day and night temperature difference is very big, there is a saying that "there are four seasons in a day", so every season need to pay attention to keep out the cold.
1. It usually hot in day time, you can bring shorts and T-shirt. As hiking will consume lots of physical strength, you could take some high calorie food such as chocolate, malted milk, sliced dried beef and so on.
2. When you hiking to the Shenzhou Waterfall located between Walnut Garden and Zhongxia Hotel, you must be very carefull, as it may fall stone with the waterfall which is very dangerous.
3. Each year from June to September is the rainy season of the Diqing Plateau. You’d better avoid this period as it may occurs debris flow and mountain rock fall.
4. Located at the high altitude area, surrounded by Hengduan Montains, the climmate in Tiger Leaping Gorge is complicate and changable. The temperature difference between day and night is big. Take think coat, down jacket, gloves, anti-skidding boots with you.