Tiger Leaping Gorge

We’ve been back in Suzhou for a while now, but I haven’t forgotten to finish up with my posts about the rest of Yunnan and Guizhou! The beginning of the school year has kept me very busy, and of course, I’m still trying to find about 1000 animals homes, so sometimes, the blog needs to wait. These are just a few!

Our time in Yunnan was spectacular. As you can see in my posts about Lovely Lijiang, there is so much to see and do in Yunnan province. And, if all that good stuff isn’t enough reason enough, there is yet another spectacular site to see. A few hours away from this lovely city, you will find one of China’s greatest natural treasures: Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Tiger Leaping Gorge is the thing of legends. People have been writing about it for years, and its name actually comes from one of many myths written about it. It is said that a tiger was running from hunters when it came upon the massive gorge. Instead of diving into the water below, or being killed by the hunters, the tiger leapt onto a rock in the middle of the gorge, and then from there, safely to the other side.

The tiger has been immortalized in a stone carving

We heard of a lot of different ways to get to Tiger Leaping Gorge, but we were on a bit of a budget, so we decided to take a bus there, rather than book into a crowded tour. It turned out the bus we took actually WAS a tour, but it was cheap, and the guy who ran it was super nice, so we were ok with it.

The bus was pretty old, and one of the windows had a taped up piece of cardboard instead of a window, but it got us from point A to point B, and back again!
Our rest stop on the way to the gorge. That is a ‘toilet’ that you squat over. If you’re near the end, you get to see everyone else’s ‘stuff’ float under you while you’re going. Also, there are no doors, so you can watch someone across from you pooping. It’s all very….rural.

The time spent on the bus and in rest stops is well worth it once you arrive at the gorge. Tiger Leaping Gorge is one of the deepest in the world. It’s 16kms long, and is nearly 3,900kms deep, from the top of the two mountains where the river begins. When you get to the viewing point, you need to climb quite a ways down to get to the gorge itself. Don’t worry though: there are stairs leading the way down, and you can even hire someone to carry you in a chair up and down the stairs if you’re disabled, a child, or just plain lazy.

I don’t think I’d look so happy if I were carrying people up and down stairs all day!

Being down by the water is mesmerizing. The power this gorge holds is unlike anything I’ve seen. As the water thunders down from the mountains, into this narrow canyon, it’s almost hypnotizing. It hadn’t been particularly rainy before we went, but still, the water is deafening as it thunders through.

Even from up high, the gorge is unbelievable
As you get closer, it just gets even more incredible!

Upper Gorge is the most popular destination for tours, so it was pretty crowded, although not as bad as I had expected. The accessibility to Upper Gorge is quite good, so almost anyone can go, but more adventurous people carry onto Middle or Lower Gorge We planned on going to middle gorge to see some of the beautiful sites there, but when we arrived, it turned out it was just a guesthouse we were seeing, and we never got to go down to the actual water there. We did stop at a beautiful lookout on our way though!

We were hoping to see a bit more during our time at Tiger Leaping Gorge, but there was some construction on the road due to landslides, and we wound up spending over 2 hours waiting in traffic to get through to middle gorge, so we really only had a bit of time to grab some food and then head back.

There was an awesome pig across the road from the guesthouse where we got food though, so that was pretty cool!

If you’re thinking of making the trek out to Tiger Leaping Gorge, you will not regret it! My only wish is that we could have spent a few days hiking around there, but it would have meant giving up some of our time in Sichuan or Guizhou, so we did what we could with the time that we had. Lots of people do hike the very long trail though, and they’re rewarded with gorgeous views when they do! Once you’re in Lijiang, you’ll be spoiled with options to see the Gorge. Every hotel and guesthouse offers info on tours and trips down there, because it’s the main reason people go to Lijiang in the first place.

And don’t worry…by the time you get to the actual gorge, you’re back in the land of nice toilets!

That’s all I’ve got for Yunnan! My next post should be about Guiyang City; the place Dave and I called home during our first year together in China! It was pretty surreal being back there this summer, and I’m looking forward to writing all about it!

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