Walking Holidays in China - Tiger Leaping Gorge - And Beyond


Holiday Highlights
  • High mountains, deep gorges, dense forests and cultivated terraces scattered with remote villages
  • Dramatic and diverse natural beauty, this is the world’s deepest river canyon
  • Visit Lijiang, the best-preserved ancient town in China maintaining original customs and traditions


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  • Overview
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  • Map
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Yunnan Area  Yunnan, is the most south-western province of China. Externally, it borders Vietnam, Laos and Burma and is a land of various ethnic groups, majestic landscapes, natural scenery, flora and fauna. There are 55 ethnic minorities in China and Yunnan is home to 51 of them. On the journey below you will witness the way of life of many of these colourful peoples – primarily the Naxi, Yi, Yao and Mosuo groups all with their own language, costume, architecture and traditions. It is an area of high mountains and deep gorges with fast flowing rivers, dense forests and cultivated terraces scattered with remote villages. 

Tiger Leaping Gorge  In this spectacular part of China with dramatic and diverse natural beauty, extends the Tiger Leaping Gorge - the setting for a world famous trek in an area considered to be the best trekking landscape China has to offer. The Gorge was formed by the Upper Yangtze River cutting a path between two mountains rising over 5500 metres on either side from the river bed at 1800m making it the world’s deepest river canyon. The Grand Canyon in the USA by contrast, is only 1600 metres deep. The trail runs high on the northern side of the gorge passing through quiet villages, shady forests, and verdant terraced farmland with the odd cliff to negotiate! It is said that a tiger escaping from a hunter jumped across the river at the narrowest point still 25m wide, hence the name. The local people are the Naxi and offer warm hospitality to passing trekkers. 

Lijiang  The city has an 800 year history and has the best preserved ancient town in China receiving recognition by World Cultural Heritages and UNESCO. The Old Town continues to maintain the original customs and lifestyle of the Naxi people as they go about their everyday life. Wandering around the narrow streets with their multitude of herbal and spice aromas, inviting tea houses and restaurants is a true delight hardly equalled anywhere else in China.  Yunnan Rural Area  Following a trek through the Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can travel into the surrounding rural areas seldom visited by western tourists. The journey takes you through a region populated by the Yi and Yao and ends by Lugu Lake with the Mosuo people with their unique matriarchal tradition of ‘walking marriages’ still practised today. 

Yunnan Rural Area 
Following a trek through the Tiger Leaping Gorge, you can travel into the surrounding rural areas seldom visited by western tourists. The journey takes you through a region populated by the Yi and Yao and ends by Lugu Lake with the Mosuo people with their unique matriarchal tradition of ‘walking marriages’ still practised today.

The Walking
This itinerary is fully guided. Hiking through the Tiger Leaping Gorge is on a well used path which does feature some vertiginous sections and care and attention is required after heavy rainfall to the extent that your guide may not consider it safe to walk. If you find the walking too challenging, you can abort and continue by car through the lower part of the Gorge. Walking in Lijiang and Yunnan rural areas are designed for you to experience the superb landscapes as well as the rural way of life in the villages and farming communities.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included on most days.

Day 1
Arrive in Lijiang, free time to explore this fascinating old town. Overnight Lijiang.

Day 2 Set off early and drive 60km to the start of the 2 day trek along the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Today is quite strenuous with the toughest section being the ’28 bends’ - a series of hairpin bends and relentless climb of 350m. Ascent 750m descent 300m distance 7 miles time 4 – 5 hours. Overnight simple guest house.

Day 3 An easier section today completes your trek through the Tiger Leaping Gorge descending to lower ground. Meet your driver and travel by car to the small ferry terminal in order to cross the Yangtze River. There is a 150 metre descent and ascent on each side of the river with your baggage, your guide and driver will assist you if needed! From above the river, you will be driven to your next hotel. Now you are off the proverbial ‘beaten track’ and this hotel will only see western tourists once or twice a month! Overnight Daju. Ascent 100m descent 300m 6 miles 4 hours, continuing on ascent 150m descent 150m

Day 4
Today you have a spectacular drive rising to over 3000m though Rhododendron forests with stunning views to the high Snow Mountain mountains (5300m) and down to the valley floors often 1500m far below. Continue the drive on a single track road with steep drops on one side (not for the faint hearted) through traditional villages set high above the Yangtze River where you will begin your walk. Descend 850m to the Baoshan Stone village. Drive time 3-4 hours Walk time 3 hours

Day 5 After breakfast, drop down 300 metres to the river for an amazing boat journey through the awe inspiring Prince gorge whose rocky sides tower 700 metres above. This is a special local experience – not a luxury river cruise! From the ferry destination, travel by car to Lugu Lake climbing spectacular mountain roads up to 3600m. During the journey a short walk through cultivated fields and orchards, and lunch at a farm owned by Pumi people is included. Overnight Lugu Lake. Travel time 4 hours

Day 6
A day at leisure at Lugu Lake, explore the beautiful Lake edge by hiring a bike or just taking a walk. Have a table top BBQ at one of the many lakeside restaurants and visit a cultural experience to learn more about the local Mosuo people. Overnight Lugu Lake.

Day 7
Drive to Lijiang, arriving in time to spend more time exploring the old town.

Day 8 Transfer to the airport or railway station for the next stage of your journey.

Itinerary – Tiger Leaping Gorge Only

As above Day 1-2

Day 3
Today’s section of the Tiger Leaping Gorge is easier as you finish the Tiger Leaping Gorge trek by descending to lower ground. Ascent 100m descent 300m 6 miles 4 hours. You will then be collected by car and taken to Lijiang.

Day 4 Transfer to the airport or railway station for the next stage of your journey. Or take an extra day in Lijiang.

Walk Grading 

Moderate to Challenging. 

This map is for illustration purposes only and we cannot be held responsible for its accuracy.

Tiger Leaping Gorge and Beyond

There is a choice of category in Lijiang, between a typical Chinese simple hotel or a 4* hotel. During the rest of this itinerary, accommodation is in simple family run traditional Chinese hotels or home stays. You will always have your own bathroom with western toilet if possible.

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Availability Information

Yunnan (Tiger Leaping Gorge and extension) has a semi tropical climate and is possible to visit throughout the year. The rainy season is between mid June and mid September when the humidity is at it’s highest and also the temperature is in the mid 20’s C in other months it ranges between a high of between 14 and 20C.

Please note our best to go information is generally referring to the walking which may fall in the early or late season in some places. This may mean that not all tourist facilities will be open at the time you visit. 

When to book your walking holiday in China - Tiger Leaping Gorge - And Beyond

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