Daju Town is located south of the Yangtze River and the northeast portion of Tiger Leaping Gorge. The town is most famous for its significant crossing point when hiking along Lijiang’s excellent treks. It is also known for the wonderful sight of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain it provides. Its inhabitants are extremely hospitable and friendly, as visitors are invited to stay in guesthouses and seek tour information from its owners.
Once the wonderful Tiger Leaping Gorge trek has concluded, most tourists head over to Lijiang using a similar route they used to arrive; this is going via Qiaotou village in the southwest, then finding transportation to Lijiang. There is an alternate route via Daju town to Lijiang, which is a much better route. The route leads to Lijiang along the eastern border of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range. When skies are clear, passengers along this route can catch a glimpse of the mountain range.
Why visiting Tiger Leaping Gorge
- The Gorge has one of the world’s deepest canyon with a great path that is elevated above the Yangtze River. This elevation helps to reduce the deafening roar the river produces and even offers inexpensive accommodations. This makes it different from other canyons found around the world, as they do not offer cheap restaurants and hotels along the inner trails of the canyon.
- Thanks to a rugged countryside, visitors are able to hike as energetic as they want. There are switchbacks near the Leaping Tiger Gorge Town which are steep and climb up to around 1 kilometer.
- As one of UNESCO World Heritage natural preservation areas, the Gorge is an ecological treasure-trove thanks to a plethora of rare plant and animal species.
- The Gorge is near to other historical and natural highlights namely: the Three Parallel River National Park and the UNESCO Three Parallel River World Heritage Site. Visitors are able to view the location where three major Asian rivers flow alongside each other.
- The native Naxi People are the gorge’s inhabitants and they have a unique culture.
Tiger Leaping Gorge — an Ecological Hotbed
The valley is part of the Three Parallel Rivers World Heritage Site, a UNESCO natural preservation area. It is also a portion of the Three Parallel Rivers National Park of China. It is an ecologically important area for the preservation of wildlife and is also the headwaters for 3 of the largest rivers in Asia.
Since numerous ecological zones converge in this region, coupled with a large climate range, it has become an ecological hot spot thanks to its atypically large amount of varying animal and plants species that exist in it. Tiger Leaping Gorge is a natural and scenic highlight.
Three Parts of the Gorge
The gorge is segmented into 3 categories namely; the Upper, Middle and Lower Gorge. The entire valley measures at about 18 kilometers in length. It stems from the northeast to the southwest. It is located between Tiger Leaping Gorge Town (Hutiaoxia Zhen) also referred to as Qiaotou which is close to the Upper Gorge, and Daju Town which is near the Lower Gorge.
This canyon is located close to the source of the Yangtze River which is China’s most important river and the world’s third lengthiest river. The renowned Upper Gorge scenic areas are located at the gorge’s entrance and Tiger Leaping Boulder Area. Yixiantian and Manrianxing or “Sky Full of Stars” Reef Zone are renowned areas of the Middle Gorge, which also houses rapids. The Lower Gorge offers beautiful landscapes around Daju.
Haba Snow Mountain is located at an elevation of 5396 metres west of the valley, while the high peak Shanzidou, of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain range is locate to the east at an elevation of 5596 m. It can be said that the Yangtze River is about 3600 m down when coming from the west, while being about 3800 meters when coming from the east.
The Gorge’s Two Trails
The Low Trail: visitors to the gorge area can tour it using tour buses that travel along the road that follows the river’s course at the canyon floor. This route is extremely popular with tourists from other parts of China.
The High Trail: this is the primary canyon route and is well travelled by local people and hikers alike. Along the trail are native inns and houses. This trail is good for those that want to hike a path that offers solitude, as only a couple hiking groups use this trail all day.
This trail points southward, so hikers are treated to sunlight even deep into the gorge. The majority of this trail is at 2700 m. The roars of the river can be heard when it rushes just below the trail. The majority of the trail only rise about 1 km from the river. The trail’s eastern portion is frequently shaded thanks to the peaks, with higher elevations often appearing to be white snow or bare rock.
Hiking in Tiger Leaping Gorge
Numerous tourists prefer to hike Tiger Leaping Gorge while enjoying the breath-taking landscape. Considered to be among the list of China’s finest hikes, the gorge is not strenuous apart from the initial climb at the switchback series near Tiger Leaping Gorge Town.
Should visitors prefer to walk the trail slowly, they are able to take advantage of accommodations which are in great shape. The hotels and inns for backpackers on the trail make hiking it very comfortable. Nevertheless, the trail can be strenuous for those that want to hike the entire length in one go or too quickly. With a spectacular view and landscape, backpackers generally prefer to hike this trail.
Despite the fact that it is an extremely popular trail in China, it is not one that gets overcrowded. Foreign hikers of mostly European, Israeli and American extraction prefer to use the elevated river path. Very few Chinese visitors use this route, however, native people can be seen using this route to graze their herds.