Tiger Leaping Gorge
The highlight of the trip so far has been hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge.
We left our main bags in Lijiang, taking only our smaller rucksacks and jumped on the bus to Qiaotou. The hostel was basic, deserted and run by someone wandering around on the street eating corn on the cob. We headed into town to find some food and quickly found that the town is as bad as the hostel. Plain, white, rectangular concrete buildings. The town just felt like a dive, but we did find somewhere to eat and it was fine.
The next morning we set off and had a pretty unadventurous two hour walk to the first highlight, the Naxi Family Guesthouse.
After a great meal there we set off for the 4 hour trek to the Halfway Guesthouse.
Our stay at the Halfway Guesthouse was a mixed experience. We met a few other very friendly hikers and had a pleasant evening with them, but upon arrival to the hostel we were greeted by children. The children took our details, our money and gave us a room key. They then cooked everyone’s evening meals (25ish adults). I looked in the kitchen around 8:30pm and the kids were still cooking. Absolutely no sign of any adults running the place all evening!
The next day started with a good breakfast then back onto the path along the gorge.
The hike ends with a horrible one hour – 600m – descent back to the road. Not much new to see on the descent and slippery in places (we both lost our footing). This brought is to Tina’s Hostel where we booked our place on the bus back to Lijiang.
My recording of the track (over two days):
The hike doesn’t actually take you to the highlight of the gorge, Tiger Leaping Stone.This is the stone from which a tiger supposedly jumped over the river to the other side to get away from a hunter. I reckon the hunter lied when he got home to avoid embarrassment.
So, we then had a grueling 45 mins descent down to river level. The path is hacked into the sheer cliff face for much of the way. The strange thing is I’m terrified of heights but on this path I felt no fear.
The Yangtze is squeezed into about 25m and to stand so close and hear the roar and see the force of the water was an amazing sight and made the walk down (and the inevitable slog back up) well worth it.
Some of the rocks are quite dangerous to step on; Very basic iron pole stuck into the rock with some wire strung between them, very easy to slip beneath and nothing you stop you actually slipping, certain death if you slipped. But, I took a chance and got onto a rock as close to the water as I dared.
The walk back up was horrendous. The sun had just risen high enough for the sunlight to reach the bottom of the gorge, instantly causing the temperature to jump from comfortable to very hot. Many steps were knee high and just kept on going. We’re not that fit (yet) and it took us a little over an hour to get back up to the road, but we really had to push ourselves to keep on going.
We ended our experience in the gorge in the cafe at Tina’s Hostel. Nice food, very nice coffee and a reasonable price. A great walk, spectacular scenery, some good food and good company.