Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge
The Tiger Leaping Gorge (Hutiaoxia Gorge) is located between the Yulong Snow Mountain of Lijiang and the Haba Snow Mountain of Zhongdian. The movement of the earth's crust caused the Jinshajiang River to change its course.

The gorge is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle and Lower Hutiao. At the narrowest spot the river is only 30 meters wide. The mouth of the gorge is 1,800 meters above sea level. The river is flanked by Yulong and Haba Snow Mountains, with a height difference of 3,900 meters. It is one of the deepest gorges in the world.

Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge
Flowing through Shigu Town, the Jinsha River is flanked by the Yulong Snow Mountain to the east and the Haba Snow Mountain to the west. From the top of the Yulong Snow Mountain to the bottom of the gully is a drop of 3,700 meters, making it 1,800 meters deeper than the Colorado Grand Canyon, while the Haba Snow Mountain slopes gradually in its upper regions and is steeper further down. The mountain is 5,396 meters above sea level and the lowest point on the bank of the Jinsha River is 1,550 meters above sea level. The two mountains flanking the Jinsha River form a 15-km Gorge -- Tiger Leaping Gorge, further classified into the upper, middle and lower Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Tiger Leaping Gorge
The Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge is the narrowest section, and in the center of the river is a huge rock called Tiger Leaping Rock. It is said that a tiger once leapt from the east bank, clearing the rock, to land on the west bank, hence its name.

Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge
The most perilous section is the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, which features a huge drop in water level. Six km away from the upper gorge is a waterfall where the river crashes down over 100 meters hitting the rocks in the river bed and creating violent currents.

In one 100-meter section are numerous reefs, and the current is torrential. The gorge is rarely traversed by humans, but on the slope between the Middle and Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge there is a small village – Hetao Yuan Village, which has little contact with the outside, and where villagers lead a simple and natural life, dwelling in stone-plate houses.

Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge
The most important sight in the lower gorge is the Feixing Rapids, from which people can look down on the unconstrained Jinshajiang River. A 32 km long road from the Haba Mountain to Jiangbian Village has been opened to traffic, but traveling on foot is much more interesting.

From Wlanut Grove to Haba, via Jiangbian, it is seven to eight hours. From here to the Yi village of Sanba is about the same, following trails. You could just follow the road and hitch with the occasional truck or tracker but this way is longer and less scenic. Some hardy mountain bikers have followed the trails but this is really only fun from north to south, elevations being what they are. The best way would be to hire a guide.

In Haba most people stay at Haba Snow Mountain Inn; In Sanba the Shanzhuang Luguan. From Sanba there is an 8 am bus to Zhongdian (five hours), or you could get off at the turn-off to Emerald Pagoda Lake (Bita Lake, 25 km east of Zhongdia) and hike there.

Opening Hours: 08:30 to 18:00
Admission Fee: CNY 50