China Travels: Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-La

China Travels: Tiger Leaping Gorge and Shangri-La

Tiger Leaping Gorge

After exploring Kunming, Dali and Lijiang, it was time for some nature and hiking, so we went to Tiger Leaping Gorge and embarked on a two-day hike. Tiger Leaping Gorge is a 15 km long canyon with a depth of almost 3,800 m. Jade Dragon Snow Mountain is on one side and Haba Snow Mountain on the other, separated by a river. The name of the Gorge comes from a legend, which claims a tiger escaped its hunter be leaping across the river – after seeing the mountains, gorge and river, I’m quite impressed by the tiger! 😉

Hike Day 1: Start / Naxi Guesthouse – Tea Horse Guesthouse

A driver picked us up in Lijiang and brought us to the beginning of the Gorge to buy tickets. While Thorben, Tim and Freddy started hiking from there, I took a little short-cut and had the driver drop me at Naxi guesthouse to start the hike. I was told the first part was not as nice anyway and since I hadn’t recovered from the cold completely, it seemed like a good idea. Steph was so nice to accompany me and deal with my very slow hiking.

I don’t know if it was the altitude, the remainder of the cold or my general fitness state (or all of the above), but the hike and especially the 28 bends were brutal. A lady with a horse sensed my weakness and followed us for an hour trying to get me to take a ride. Thankfully, she gave up, otherwise I might have eventually caved 😉 After the big climb, it was really beautiful! We had great views and the rest of the hike to the guesthouse was really enjoyable.

Our guesthouse had an amazing terrace with beautiful views, where we reunited with the rest of the crew plus 4 friends from Shanghai.

Hike Day 2: Tea Horse Guesthouse – Tina’s

On the second day, the guys started hiking a bit earlier, because they wanted to add on another hike down to the river at the end. I decided to join our friends from Shanghai and hike at a more moderate pace. The second day was even more beautiful than the first – pictures really don’t do it justice. The gorge is massive! It was a really nice hike with lots of beautiful scenery, waterfalls, goats, flowers and fresh air … and most importantly, not too many inclines, just a lot of going down at the end.

After lunch at Tina’s, the guest house where most people finish the hike, we continued on to Shangri-La, our last stop.


Old Town

Our first day in Shangri-La was mostly rainy, so we hung out in a Café in the Old Town until the afternoon and had breakfast, lunch and tea there while playing card games. It was quite the relaxed day. In the afternoon, we walked around a bit and also explored some more the next day. For food, we tried Yak burgers – tasty, just like a beef burger – and had some Tibetan barbecue. The town itself is made mostly out of wood which really gives it a mountain feel. Most of the buildings are rebuilt because of a big fire in 2014. They did a good job, it’s very pretty!

Songzanlin Monestary

On the second day in Shangri-La, the weather was much nicer, so we headed to Songzanlin Monestary. There is a lake to walk around and get some pretty views with reflections. When we went inside to explore the different buildings and temples, it cleared up even more – the bluest sky I’ve seen in a while. What a beautiful place!

After another taxi and train ride, we arrived back in Kunming for some more Yunnan food and of course Snicker’s ice cream at Salvador’s. Yunnan was really beautiful, and tasty. I’m glad we got the chance to cross it off the China bucket list!

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