At 12434 feet (3,790 meters) from the peak to the river basin below, Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest river canyons in the world. It is well known as one of the best hikes in China and I would personally place it in my top 10 treks of all time. The gorge is in between the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and the Haba Snow Mountain. The TLG Upper Trail is 22 kilometers long through various elevation ascents, descents and micro-ecosystems. This area is also home of the indigenous Naxi people so there is some interesting history and culture here to dive into.
It was a long ride in a smokey bus, but we are finally here to the beginning of our journey.
Our adventure started in the small town of Qiaotou. After stocking up on food, water and supplies we made our way to Jane’s Guest House. This is the best guesthouse to help out with information on the hike, have some good food and Jane also lets you leave your big bags. She has a nice map on the wall that shows the path of the adventure ahead. Pack it up, Ross!
The food here is pretty good. Nothing like a good noodle soup, egg/ham sandwich and fries to start the day.
The TLG trail is fairly easy to find. After leaving Jane’s to the left, we headed up the road along the left bank of the river. Eventually, we get to a school and there were signs and red arrows pointing us in the right direction.
Looking back it is quite a sight to see the Yangzi river valley below.
We finally get to the real start of the trail and it just keeps going up !
The view begins to get really gorgeous. Looking down starts to get kind of mesmerizing. We still had a long way to go up.
Be careful with fire!!!! For the fire is hidden trouble. We want happy life!
After about three good hours of hiking from Jane’s, we reached Yacha Village. This is where our first stop of the night would be, at Naxi Family Guesthouse. I would highly recommend staying here if you are planning to do this hike. Wonderful family, cozy beds, good food, authentic charm, warm fire and breathtaking views.
Dinner was authentic and very tasty. So was all the company we met. The fire was warm and constantly well tendered. The beer and home-made wine was flowing. This was a good night of rest.
The views here were worth ten times the room rate alone.
The next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we said our goodbyes to the kind hosts and made our way back onto the trail. They claim the “28 Bends” is the most difficult part of the trail, but I didn’t really think it was all that challenging. The more difficult part was going DOWN into the gorge in the last kilometer before Tina’s GH.
Parts of the trail get a little hairy and you need to watch out for the loose gravel and pine needles under your feet.
Those tiny little boxes down there? Those are buses. The photographs (as I am super zoomed in) are difficult to do the experience justice but this is like straight down. You slip, you die.
Look, a cactus.
Look, it is a palm tree.
It is really beautiful out here. Took a nice break on a outcrop of rocks overlooking the gorge.
For lunch, we make it to the Halfway Guesthouse. Fantastic lunch, recharging the batteries and enjoying the view.
It’s really epic up here.
After a nice lunch, we continued on the trail. It is fairly flat but some parts are very rocky and you must be careful of each and every step.
Coming across some minor waterfalls was really cool.
We met some goats! These guys can climb like it is nothing!
Finally we made it down to Tina’s at the river level. (this isn’t Tina, even thought I wanted to say “Eat your food Tina!” (Napoleon Dynamite reference).
We walked a further 45 minutes down to the village of Walnut Grove. We stayed there for the night at Sean’s Spring Guesthouse. The next morning we got a taxi to take us back to Jane’s Guesthouse in Qiaotou.
We had an absolutely fantastic time on this adventure and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a good hiking experience in China. The road continues on…..