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Tiger Leaping Gorge

5,988 bytes added, 01:10, 29 October 2012
The Tiger Leaping Gorge trek (虎跳峡; Pinyin: Hu Tiao Xia), near [[Lijiang]] in [[Yunnan]], is one of the finest treks through some of the most naturally beautiful and diverse landscapes China has to offer. The trail runs high on the northern side of the gorge passing through quiet villages, shady forest, blustery precipice and verdant terraced farmland. The snow covered peaks of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (玉龙雪山; YuLong XueShan; 5596m) and [[Haba]] Snow Mountain (哈巴雪山; Haba Xueshan, 5396m) shadow either side of the gorge.
'''Current situation (Sept 2010)''' The lower trail is officially closed due to construction. There is no problem of walking the high trail. Major land and rock slides from blasting the rocks near the trail stops traffic and passable only on foot. Walking the trail back and forth from Qiaotou is a much safer option at this moment. The constructions should finish around December. An '''open ended ticket''' to the trail is ¥50 ¥65 (as of April 2012) (¥25 for students''under 25'') purchased from the ticket booths at either end of the trail. Some trekkers have avoided the entry fee by setting off early before the ticket booth opens or sneaking past when the guard is out. Starting Spring 2010 - The road near entrance office was in reconstruct so they didn't sell tickets.
Typically the hike is spread over two days (one and half - three day) but a slower pace will afford you to time contemplate the natural surrounds and unwind in the villages quietude.
A little used side-trail to a remote waterfall just outside Walnut Garden is not shown on most maps but is marked with yellow arrows. The path is a challenging but worthwhile detour, passing through shady stands of bamboo to the base of the waterfall where the crashing water flows into a series of tranquil water pools.
If you prefer to visit without any (strenuous) hiking, a road along the south side of the gorge enters from the west and goes for a couple kilometers before stopping at a parking lot. After that there is a fairly level paved trail to Upper Tiger Leaping stone. Tours can be arranged in Lijiang or you can try to hire a driver to take you as a day trip from Lijiang, though drivers from Lijiang are not allowed to cross the river as that's outside their allowed territory.
If you want to avoid any hassles of figuring out your own transportation and directions you can go with a guide and a group from Lijiang for about 500RMB ¥500 (covers transport, one night lodging, and any fees; no food).  There are a few ATMs in Qiaotou; however, they are only likely to take Chinese bank cards. The best idea would be to take the money you require for your time at Tiger Leaping Gorge from an ATM in Lijiang, to be on the safe side. There are no ATMs at any point along the trail.
== Directions ==
'''From Qiaotou:''' From the ticket office, walk along the road till you reach the school gate. Stay on the road, following the schools grey-white wall till its end where painted arrows point up an embankment at the beginning of the trek. From here keep to the well worn path and follow the plentiful painted red/yellow arrows. About 10km later, at Tina's there is a trail down to the river. You can come back up to Tina's two ways (Tianti (the heavenly ladder), or Teacher Zhang's trail) or take a trail that goes a little ways down the river before coming back up a little farther down the road.
'''From [[Qiaotou]]:''' From the ticket office, walk along the road till you reach the school gate on your left. It's less than 1K from the bus station. There are blue and yellow signs that mark the start and most of the trail. Stay on the road, following the school's grey-white wall till its end where painted arrows point up an embankment at the beginning of the trek. From here keep to the well worn path and follow the plentiful painted red/yellow arrows.  A misleading fake path before the school forks off at a brick wall painted with fading arrows. People may tell you it is the right way, but stay on the road to the school. (If the road to the school is under construction you may have to take this one. Don't worry, you'll get to the right place eventually.) About 20km, and 7 hours, later at Tina's there is a trail down to the river. You can come back up to Tina's two ways - Tianti (the heavenly ladder), or Teacher Zhang's trail - or take a trail that goes a little way down the river before coming back up a little farther down the road. From Tina's GH / Zhang GH, you can go down the middle gorge but each path costs 10¥ to use it. No combined ticket if you want to use both. Viewpoint from Zhang's GH has entrance fee of 2¥ / 5¥, which seems to be enforced only reluctantly. Once down in the gorge, turning left at the last hut before the Tiger Leaping Rock, you can continue downstream to Walnut Grove, along the river through an impressive cut along the sheer cliff. Bus from [[Lijiang]] or [[Shangrila]] should be about ¥30. They start from north gate Lijiang and drop you off at Qiaotou. Buses to [[Lijiang]] or [[Shangrila]] should be around ¥50. They depart from Tina's at 8AM, 1PM and 4PM. You will see signs along the hike advertising a ride from Sean's GH in Walnut Grove to Lijiang at 330PM. However, this bus does not run everyday and should not be relied upon if planning to hike from middle gorge to Walnut Grove. Get down to previous intersection if you want to check town and local marketGet up to next crossing and turn right to reach entrance of the park (and the counter)
== Annoyances ==
The instant you step off the bus in Qiaotou touts will insist you take their mini-van to the ‘start of the trail’ (for ¥120+ one way) but they should be politely ignored. The real start of the trail is a 2 minute walk over the bridge and down the first road on the right.
On the trail there are endless efforts of varying legitimacy to help you part with your cash. At regular intervals old women, young girls and sundry others will demand small fees for using optional parts of the path. Some, such as the descent to the river below Tina's guest house, are particularly annoying, as you'll be asked for money at what seems like every step of the way, with an elaborate story to explain the cost. Men There is a 10 Yuan fee to hike down to the Tiger Leaping Stone, and another 10 Yuan fee if you choose to take the ladder trail back up. Locals will attempt to charge you fees to use the rocks as photo ops, but ignore them and take the trail to the building downstream, visible from the stream. The views are much better from there.  Nearing the most difficult part of the trail (the twenty-eight steep switchbacks), local men with horses or donkeys who will offer to take you part way for a fee. They will charge anywhere from ¥150-300, regardless of where on the trail you decide you want to use their services. If you feel the need to have the accomplishment of doing the hike on your own two feet, they can help you by taking your bag for about ¥50.
Some guesthouses may try to mislead you about your hiking options. Tina's guesthouse has been known to insist that while you may descend to the river below, you must hike back up, and may not continue along the river to Walnut Grove - one of the most spectacular sections of the trail. While this part of the gorge has its charm, some feel it is not an essential part of the trek and could be skipped, though some emphatically disagree.
However if you go out of season (Late March for example) many of the money collecting posts will be unattended and you'll be free to take advantage of the vistas without being harassed.
== Sleep and Eat ==
Numerous family run guesthouses are conveniently dotted along the trail. Prices rise during the peak periods but outside of these times guesthouses are cheap and blissfully quiet. Qiaotou has a handful of comfortable hotels but there is little reason to stay. Starting the walk at midday leaves ample time to reach Naxi Guesthouse or push on to 5-Fingers Guesthouse.
[[Qiaotou]] town has also some hotel but with very limited english speaking staff, no trek informations and not so competitive price against guesthouses on the trek.
In (average) time and distance order from Qiaotou along the high trail.
* 00h00m 0h <sleep name="HikerJane's Tibetan Guesthouse" alt="" address="On the corner of the bridge and start of trail, next to ticket office. You cannot miss it." directions="" phone="08878806700/15284571200+86 887 8806570" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long="" email="[email protected]" fax=""> Opened in June 2010 by a guy from Shanghai who loves hikingwith good restaurant. Luggage storage is 5 yuans per can leave bag for unlimited here (¥5 virtually without timelimit). Very good English is spoken.</sleep>
* 02h00m <sleep name="Naxi Family Guesthouse" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="08878806928/13988758424" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="dm: ¥20, d/tw: ¥40, d with bathroom: ¥70" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">A range of neat rooms looking into the central courtyard. Basic shared washing facilities with warmish showers and nice garden views from the toilet. Good-value freshly cooked Western/Chinese food made with locally grown produce (try the pumpkin!)-- this is hands-down the very best food available anywhere along the whole trail, so fill up while you can. Very authentic feel, great alternative to staying in Qiaotou. Pickup by Jeep or horse and reservations can be made in advance.</sleep>
* 05h00m <sleep name="Tea-Horse Trade Guesthouse" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="13988717292, 13988707922" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="Double or twin room 50RMB&yen;50, shared bathroom, 120RMB &yen;120 for double or twin ensuite, triple bed room &yen;90" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Friendly atmosphere, unbelievably nice owners (after seeing that we didn't finish one of our dishes at breakfast, they took it off our bill –– almost unheard of in China), very tasty food with huge menu but , all freshly cooked by the owners children. Affordable massages (50RMB&yen;50/hour-- though they aren't always open) and very nice staff. Toilets are outside, Chinese-style, without doors. Be sure to bring your own toilet paper. Smaller then Halfway, about 20 rooms</sleep><sleep name="Hiker's Guesthouse" alt="" address="On . No heaters in the corner of room, and the bridge and start of trailmattresses are almost painfully thin, next to ticket office. You cannot miss it." directions="" phone="0887-8806700" url="http://wwwbut there are very thick warm" checkin="" checkout="" price="" lat="" long=""> facts correct as of September 2010 </sleep>
* 06h30m <sleep name="Halfway HouseLodge" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="13988700522" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="25RMB &yen;25 for dorm beds." lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Cheap beer, great decent food, and simple and clean rooms. If you come just to eat, the service can be very poor. Double room with shared bath 50RMB&yen;50. En suite rooms are 130RMB&yen;130. Unusual (and completely unnecessary) "scenic toilet" with views of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Nice pictures can be had from their "Inspiration Point" area for dining. Be sure you can make it before dark. This guesthouse can be very noisy as it is huge. If you are tired and it is evening, stay the night at one of these guesthouses - don't walk any further as the walk gets quite slippery/steep down to Tina's and would be dangerous in the dark (no barriers to falling off the mountain).</sleep>
* 08h30m <sleep name="Tina07h '''Five Fingers Mountain Guest House'''s Youth Hostel" alt="" price="" lat="" long="" email=" " faxphone="">More than 13988776286 is a Youth hostel, they added recently some twin/double charming farmstead B&B that offers accomodation in basic but clean rooms. Very good Chinese with (shared) hot showers for 30 Yuan per person (and some Westernapril 2012) food - cheap . It is located around 30 meters above the trail about 20 minutes past the Halfway Lodge and simple but well-prepared is an excellent alternative to the better known hostels. This place is a genuine farmstead, a square courtyard surrounded by beautiful traditional Yunnan buildings with what seem like all-local ingredientsbreathtaking views from the courtyard and rooms. The manager Li MIng Xing and her family are very friendly, Internet and wifiwill do everything they can to make you comfortable within the restricted possibilities that their home can offer. Some staff speak EnglishThis is not a comfy hotel, but a hospitable family inn. Taxi van to QiaotouIf you are afraid you will get cold at night ask for a room at courtyard level, which fits up to 7 people they have stone walls and will be warmer than the flimsier ones on the upper floor. Li MIng Xing will cook an excellent meal for you and costs ¥150 after some bargainingyour party at a low cost (menu in english).</sleep>
* 09h30m 08h30m <sleep name="SeanTina'sYouth Hostel" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="0887-8202222 / 13988745942+86 887 8202258" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="dm: ¥20" lat="" long="" email="" fax=""> The More than a Youth hostel, they added recently some twin/double rooms here are overpriced . 24 hour hot water is advertised, but there was no hot wa*ter available during entire stay. This is by far the staff speak Englishmost touristy place (in a bad way) along the trail. Dorms have a teddy bear Chinese (and some Western) food on each bedthe menu, but as of April 2012, the prices for food are considerably higher than anywhere else along the trail, and the quality is noticeably less.Great food Internet and WiFi does not seem to be offered anymore. Uncomfortable beds, inferior blankets, pitiful heating pads, and no MSG! Part of GH insulation makes the room colder inside than it is outside. The owner, Tina, seems to be the only person who speaks English. Staff is under reconstructiongenerally unpleasant to deal with. Minivan, which fits up to 7 people, costs ¥150 to Qiaotou, and ¥350 to Lijiang (February 2012). Can make regular bus to Lijiang stop for ¥50 per person at 16:00, you can also ask for this Bus to stop at Jane's Guesthouse if you need to pick up your bags. All tickets to be booked and paid upfront in the morning.</sleep>
* 08h40m <sleep name="Tibet Guest House" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="00 86 13988740050" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="20" lat="" long="">Run by a Tibetan family since it opened in May 2006. Price &yen;20-100. Hot water 24hours, Tibetan meal, western meals, chinese meals, plus warranty cool beer.</sleep> * 09h30m <sleep name="Sean's" alt="" address="" directions="" phone="0887-8202222 / 13988745942" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="dm: ¥20" lat="" long="" email="" fax=""> The rooms here are overpriced but the staff speak English. Dorms have a teddy bear on each bed. Privates have 24hr hot water & heated rooms. Great food and no MSG! Part of GH is under reconstruction. As of April 2012, the best map for hiking the gorge is made available by Sean's. It can be obtained (for free) at the entrance tickets gates at Qiaotou. When using the map, note that you must reverse everything, as the directions are for *starting* from Sean's.</sleep> * 09h30m <sleep name="Chateau de Woody" alt="" address="" directions="500m past Sean's" phone="13988745996" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="dm: ¥15-30, d with/without bathroom: ¥180-320" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Ignore the concrete building on the left and head opposite to the recently added rooms with hot (hot!) showers and big comfortable beds The paved courtyard overlooking the gorge is the perfect place to relax with some walnuts or something from the Chinese/Western menu. Jenny, the ever-helpful host speaks ‘good enough’ English. </sleep> * Haba <sleep name="Haba Snow Mountiain Inn" alt="" address="" directions="centre of town, opp Haba KeZhan" phone="13368873488,13988765396" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="¥80, twin without bathroom" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Basic accomodation with wonderful friendly hostess with limited English. </sleep> * Haba <sleep name="Haba Hostel" alt="" address="" directions="centre of town, opp Haba Snow Mountain Inn" phone="" url="" checkin="" checkout="" price="¥100, twin with ensuite bathroom" lat="" long="" email="" fax="">Functional Hotel, rooms have tv. Restaurant on ground floor </sleep>
Before leave leaving Lijiang/Qiaotou/Daju, be sure you have enough water for the first part of the hike. On the way , there are no shops, but on the trek there are several women occasional vendors selling fruits, water and beer. Prices vary, but fruit will be ¥2-3 per piece. Guesthouses charge ¥5 for per 1.5 -litre bottle of water. Between Naxi's GH and highest peak is a "shop" (artistic use of Red Bull cans) where you can buy really lot a variety of things. Don't count on open shops and present vendors in low season, make sure you bring sufficient supplies from Qiaotou or Nuòyú.
==Get in, Get out==
 '''From [[Lijiang]]:''' Morning buses to Qiaotou (桥头), ¥16¥30, 2hrs, leave from the bus station, stopping to pick up passengers at the new Southern Bus station down the road. Get to Bus station from city centre by bus no.13.As of April 2012, the roads are under heavy construction, and the drive will take closer to 3-4 hours to reach Qiaotou. Make sure you only pay for going to Qiaotou if you plan to hike the upper gorge. They might sell you a more expensive ticket to "Tiger Leaping Gorge" but that would take you past the start of the trail.  :*If you are arriving in Lijiang by train, it is only a ¥15 taxi ride to get to the main bus station from the train station. The public bus is also an option but requires transferring onto another bus. Avoid the private minivans waiting in the train station parking lot that will ask for ¥400-¥500 to drive you directly to Qiaotou.
'''To/from Qiaotou/Walnut Garden:''' Minivans do the 30min trip between either end of the trek. The cost should be ¥80 for the entire van. Drivers will ask for more. As of Summer 2010 this entire road is under construction; you will have to walk it and risk the blasting if you don't want to go the high road.
'''From [[Shangrila]]:''' You can pick any bus to Kunming, Lijiang and Dali, there is a bus at least every hour. About 30y.
If you are heading north to [[Zhongdian]] (Shangrila) or coming from there, there is an alternative road via [[Haba]]. It is a longer but quieter with fantastic mountain landscapes. The tarmac is very good for bikes. You can think about doing some camping along this road:
'''To Haba from Walnut Garden:''' Tina's or Sean's guesthouse can organise a minibus (&yen;180-200RMB200) to [[Haba]] along a scenic road (1.5hrs). From [[Haba]], there is a daily bus to [[Shangrila]], then.
''' Walnut Garden to Daju'''
If you are coming from Qiaotou over whole gorge or from Tina's of Walnut garden, you got to the river bank with ferry. After you cross the ferry, there might be two buses a day departuring to Lijiang, first at 1PM, 30Y(?) per person. If you arrive soon, you can walk a bit to forward Daju because bus will stop by every guesthouse or shop on the way through village. The village is really long! (not sure where it starts and finish. there is just a lot of houses by the road) When you get on the bus, it will stop a lot and soon will be full of locals going just a few kilometers with goods, vegetable or whatever from place to place.
Along with a bus there should be a private minivan bus hustler. From here they take you on a road back to Lijiang, about 3 hours. At times this road is under construction and you might have to get out of one van, walk across construction, and get into another van more than once. As of July 2010 this was not the case, however, but conditions in China are unpredictable.
'''Lijiang to Daju'''
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