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Tiger Leaping Gorge

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Leaving Dali we caught the local bus going towards Shangri-La. The old vehicle rattled it’s way along, with occasional stops and constantly overtaking on blind bends. After six hours it dropped us at the village of Qiaotou where we spent the night at Jane’s guest house; not that we met Jane, the ‘bloke’ who owns the guest house. There was heavy rain during the night but it had cleared by the morning so we set out on the high trail through Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is one of the classic treks in China, following the Jinsha river through one of the deepest gorges in the world. We stopped for lunch at the Naxi Family guest house then tackled the climb up ‘twenty four bends’. Whilst steep, this was less challenging than many blogs suggested and largely unaffected by the previous night’s rain. We had decided to take the trek gently so stopped overnight at the Tea Horse guest house that provided great views from its terrace. Our room also had a TV although the effect was rather spoilt by a lack of electricity until later. The next morning we trekked through the superb scenery of the middle gorge, finally reaching Tina’s Hostel in time for lunch. This is where the high path meets the low road. The latter is currently being upgraded to take hordes of tour buses but fortunately this is still work in progress. A further forty minutes on the still unpaved road brought us to Sean’s Guest House where we sat on the terrace, drinking beer and listening to the sound of the rapids. The next morning we walked down to the river. Rather than pay to visit Tiger Leaping Rock we explored the largely unused route down from Sean’s that came down close to the lower rapids. The path was somewhat overgrown and tricky to navigate but great fun. An hour and a half later we were back on the low road and with some fellow travellers we hired a minibus to take us out via the low road. This was an adventure in itself as the bumpy unmade road runs beside a sheer drop into the river. At one point the driver had to stop and do quick repairs when some of the protective casing was knocked into the transmission by an exceptionally hard impact. Finally we reached the site where a landslip was blocking the road and we had to transfer on foot to another minibus. After that we were on paved road back to Qiaotou where Jane’s gave us lunch and organised another minibus to go to Lijiang. All together a superb few days in a wonderful scenic spot that fully deserves its reputation. While the development of the low road will eventually bring many more tourists to this side of the gorge I hope the high trail can keep it’s unique character.

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Written by zantine

September 26, 2010 at 5:36 am

Posted in China, Travel

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