Saturday, August 20, 2011

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Our next stop on our Yunnanese tour was Tiger Leaping Gorge. We hired a private car to drive us 60 km and three hours north from Lijiang. There's no real town here, but there are a dozen or so guesthouses along the road. The real attraction is nature. You are halfway up a valley with steep, gnarly mountains on each side. At the bottom is a raging river, the Yangtze, which at this point is called the Golden Sands River. Legend says that, while fleeing from a hunter, the tiger jumped across the river three times at it's narrowest points (still 25m wide), which also happen to be where the rapids are most powerful.

We stayed at Sean's Guesthouse, which boasted a stunning location, clean rooms and excellent food. Esther liked the noodles.

The typical route for backpackers is to hike 22km from one end of the gorge to the other, stopping at various guesthouses along the way. The rents would not be able to hike this area, but we were able to go early morning horseback (and muleback) riding for a 3 hour trek up the mountain.

Our guides walked our horses the whole way, except for esther's guide, who frequently left her all alone. This was brought to our attention when we heard esther, often the last in the pack, shouting, "Hello? I'm all alone back here!".

My horse.

Three random horses grazing on the trail.

We really only had one full day and were determined to make the most of it. We learned the best hike 3 hours down to Middle Tiger Leaping Rapids, the most powerful rapids in the area and also the least developed. Esther and i hired a guide and we set off after lunch. The hike down was easy and beautiful, though in some places, you can't help but wonder how many people slipped and fell to the roaring rapids 150 feet below. Probably none, what with the twig-fences and rickety little bridges and all.

Sometimes the journey is more exciting than the destination. Other times, the destination is a rock jutting out into intense Class 5 rapids, with a huge wall of water dropping 10 feet from you, deafening deep percussion, and, like 4 other tourists.

Best. Scenic. Vista. EVER!



Anonymous said...

What's a "random horse"? I've heard of many other kinds including roans and pintos, but never randoms. They're very pretty!
Betty Vitale

kevinreitz said...

Haha, i guess random horses are the ones you aren't expecting to see? These were not with our group and were free to roam the mountainside. I doubt they were wild, but they sure weren't corralled either.

Anonymous said...

What's the update on Dad's beard??

Anonymous said...

Well done ! You are so brave and adventurous! These are great pictures of the Tiger Leaping Gorge. Which reminds me... I should go through my India pictures and post some. Having read this I thought it was rather informative. I appreciate you finding the time and energy to put this article together.

I once again find myself personally spending a significant amount of time both reading and leaving comments. But so what, it was still worth it! In return, I also found a great blog of trekking the Great Wall, I'd love to share it here with you and for future travelers.