Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike: Day 1

This blog post follows on from Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike : starting in Lijiang

After a few days of exploring the Jade Dragon Mountain towns, we were ready to head off to Qiaotou (桥头 qiáo tóu), where we would start our hike to the gorge.

It’s not only train stations with added security, getting on a bus requires the same passport scrutiny, baggage screening and body scan. Our bus was bound for Shangri-la (香格里拉 Xiānggélǐlā) also known as Zhongdian (中甸 Zhōngdiàn). Lee and I visited this town 20 years ago and nearly FROZE. It is the closest you can get to Tibet without having to go through the paperwork to get there! This time, being the coldest month of the year we gave it a miss and just focused on our hike, we got off the bus at the town before, called Qiaotou (桥头 Qiáotóu). We walked to Jane’s Guesthouse 峡谷行客栈 (xiá gǔ xíng kè zhàn) who let us leave the kids’ backpacks there for 5¥ per pack for however long we were hiking. We knew parts of the trail were a little hairy, with really steep drops…and we didn’t want the kids to have packs that might ‘overthrow their balance’! So Lee and I carried all the stuff we needed for this hike.

It was a 45 minute walk or so till we actually got to the start of the track. It was the ‘high trail’ we wanted to make sure that we were on (the low road that has been built into the gorge for ‘lazy tourists’ is a bit boring and dusty). The high trail is the trail that has been used by the villagers and goat herders for many years. We kept our eyes open for the blue signs like the one in the pik above, to make sure that we were on the right trail. It’s winter, but in Yunnan province the winter days are blue skies and a harsh sun. So our packs were pretty much full with the layers of clothes and puffy jackets to keep us warm at night 🙂

Lucas was pretty happy to see the 芦 (lú) reed flower on the way. This character actually forms part of his Chinese name 芦卡思 Lúkǎsī.

We were both happy and scared to see the track…we couldn’t actually believe our eyes at how steep it started…it was pretty much 3 hours of UP 🙂

We were really happy to find our first guesthouse of the hike, The Naxi Family Guesthouse (纳西雅阁客栈 nàxī yǎgé kèzhàn) in Nuoyu village (诺余村 Nuòyú cūn). The hosts were very welcoming and friendly, and the food was yummy with an amazing view of the gorge!

The food on the menu at the Naxi Family Guesthouse is all grown around the village and on the terraced fields around.

The mountain views from the guesthouse just seemed to make the food yummier and the sense of acheievment from the days hard climb more rewarding 🙂 As the sun went down the colours of the mountains changed.

Time for sleep…to read about day 2 of the hike click the link. Or follow in our family’s Mandarin learning journey on our Facebook page Mandarin Motion 

6 thoughts on “Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike: Day 1

  1. Hi,
    Beautiful trip u had. What s ur favorite guesthouse out of the three? I planned to hike there in winter (dec) too.

    How to get there by bus in the afternoon?
    I only found info that there are a couples of direct bus to Qiaotou from Lijaing in the morning, sth like 7, 8 am. However, we like to arrive there in the afternoon. I guess that we should go by Lijiang – Zhongdian bus, right?

    How do we find these buses, timetable?
    Will all of them pass by Qiaotou?

    Many thanks 🙂

    • Hi zazee, the Naxi Family Guesthouse was very welcoming and warm, Sean’s was our favourite though, just a lovely place and village, awesome food, and nostalgia for me and hubby staying there 20 years previously and seeing Sean again 🙂
      We stayed in Lijiang 3 nights beforehand, gave us chance to get used to altitude, and chill a bit, so we were able to go to bus station 2 days before our planned trip to get our tickets. They will tell you when you go to buy the tickets what times the buses are for the day you want to go. The times didn’t correspond to any of the times we had read about or in lonely planet etc…and the prices vary as there are different kinds of buses etc. there were a couple that stop at Qiaotou, we got on one that went to Zhongdian and just got off at Qiaotou, there was one at around 11am from memory on the day we went…but we booked the 8am one, we didn’t stay in Qiaotou, just left some bags at Janes Guesthouse and hiked that afternoon. Have fun 🙂

        • I personally would recommend 3 nights minimum…with or without kids 🙂 just to take it in, take walks round the villages, enjoy the food, be safe 🙂

    • Hi Kathy, there is about a 45 min walk from Jane’s to the official start of the walk, it’s mostly on a road that part, not busy, although we were there in Jan, and there was a farm kinda house just before the start with a lady that had water and fruit and chocolate for sale, then it is a vertical uphill climb!!!!! From there to Naxi was about 3hours I think, the hard climb bit took about 45 mins of that.

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