Situated in beautiful Yunnan province, is the stunning scenic canyon, Tiger Leaping Gorge. Considered one of the deepest gorges on Earth, it is part of the UNESCO Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas World Heritage Site. This spectacular gorge is on the Jinsha River, which is a primary tributary of the Yangtze River. With its awe-inspiring landscapes, Tiger Leaping Gorge is a must-see attraction that cannot be missed.
- The maximum depth of Tiger Leaping Gorge is 3,790 meters (12,434 ft).
- About 15 km long, the gorge is divided into three sections called the Upper Gorge, Middle Gorge, and Lower Gorge.
- Adventurous backpackers have been hiking through the gorge since the 1980s. In 1993, the Chinese government officially opened Tiger Leaping to foreign travelers.
- Tiger Leaping Gorge is world-renowned for its hiking trails through some of the most outstanding natural beauty in China.
History Of Tiger Leaping Gorge
The indigenous Naxi (also known as Nakhi, or Nashi) people have inhabited Tiger Leaping Gorge since ancient times. This ethnic group has resided in the gorge and other parts of Yunnan province since ancient times. According to archeological findings, the Naxi settled in the area that is the present-day city of Lijiang by 3 CE. Roughly a thousand years ago, they established the Old Town of Lijiang (also known as Dayan. Because of its incredible significance representing traditional Nakhi culture, it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997.
Historians have concluded that the Naxi turned to agricultural production (mainly grain), replacing livestock breeding between the 10th and 13th centuries CE. This transition led to considerable prosperity for the Naxi. During this period, Tibetan Buddhism also became prominent in the areas surrounding Tiger Leaping Gorge.
In 1278 during the Yuan dynasty (1271 to 1368), the imperial court established the Lijiang Prefecture in Yunnan. During the early Ming dynasty (1368 to 1644) court-appointed hereditary chieftains ruled Lijiang, thus exercising power over the areas surrounding Tiger Leaping Gorge. During the Qing dynasty in 1723, the hereditary chieftains were replaced by officials of the court, acting as administrators for the region.
By the 1980s, adventurous trekkers were hiking through Tiger Leaping Gorge. In 1993, the government of China officially opened the area to foreign travellers. In 2003, Tiger Leaping Gorge became part of the 1.7 million hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site known as Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas.
Culture of Tiger Leaping Gorge
According to ancient legends, a tiger used a large boulder situated on a cliff overlooking the gorge as a stepping-stone. It would consistently use the rock to leap from side of the gorge to the other, hence the name.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is situated near the mouth of the Yangtze River, which is the third largest river in the world. The gorge is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle, and Lower. Considered one of the best hiking spots in all of China, the gorge consists of the “High Trail” and “Low Trail”.
The Upper Gorge is a renowned scenic spot because it is the mouth of the canyon, and contains Tiger Leaping Boulder. The wooden plank trail is ideal for hiking, regardless of age. This route usually takes about two hours to hike.
The Middle Gorge is most famous for the rapids in this section. Other renowned sites in this section include Yixiantian and the “Sky Full of Stars” area. The Middle Gorge takes about three hours to hike.
For those wishing to escape the crowds, the Lower Gorge is the best option. This section is far less crowded, and is considered the most scenic of the three sections. The lower Gorge takes roughly three hours to hike.
Tiger Leaping Gorge is part of a vast ecological preserve. In addition to the UNESCO inscription, it is also part of China’s Three Parallel Rivers National Park. Several ecological zones converge in this area, making it an important habitat for several rare species of plants and wildlife. The part of Yunnan province where Tiger leaping Gorge is located, is considered the most biologically diverse area in China.
- It is advisable to visit Tiger Leaping Gorge with a group, as it is easy to get lost. Visitors are advised to take a map when hiking through the gorge.
- In Tiger Leaping Gorge, the rainy season extends from June to September. Autumn and April through to the beginning of June are the best times to visit the gorge.
- Although the hiking trails aren’t strenuous, visitors are advised to bring comfortable clothing and footwear.