China – Tiger Leaping Gorge – Haba Village Trek with Jade Dragon Mountain
Tiger Leaping Gorge 虎跳峡 (1800m) is a world famous UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of the Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas in Yunnan, China. The scenic gorge is wedged between two majestic mountains - Jade Dragon Snow Mountain (玉龙雪山/5596m) to the south and Haba Snow Mountain (哈巴雪山/5396m) to the north. Stretching across part of the Jinsha River, a primary tributary of the upper Yangtze River, legend has it that in order to escape from a hunter, a tiger jumped across the river at the narrowest point, forming one of the world's deepest gorges. The stone where the tiger has leaped is called Tiger Leaping Rock.
Around 18km long, Tiger Leaping Gorge is divided into three parts: Upper Gorge (上虎跳）, Middle Gorge (中虎跳）and Lower Gorge (下虎跳). Trekkers can trek from Upper Gorge to Lower Gorge or from Lower Gorge to Upper Gorge. At present, there is one main trail, named the Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail (茶马古道), that runs the length of the beautiful valley. The Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail trek is commonly completed in a 2 days/1 night trek .
About The Trek
Our trek includes the 2D/1N Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail and a day hike to a 3500m peak in Haba Village (2600m). Haba Village, located about 1 hour drive from Tiger Leaping Gorge, is a small and quaint village, known for its snow mountain and high mountain lakes. One of the best preserved nature reserves in China, Haba Village and its surrounding mountains are rarely visited by tourists. It is mainly used by climbers as a base to climb Haba Snow Mountain.
The first day of the Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail trek covers a distance of around 11km (6-7 hours). The trail officially starts from Qiaotou (1865m), across a bridge, on the main road leading to a school, before entering into a village, where there is a Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail signage. Our transport will bring us directly to start the trek at the village, saving the walk from Qiaotou to the village on tarmac road. After the village, the trail narrows and enter into a dirt path, where it turns left into the gorge. From here on, the trail snakes gradually uphill and the Upper Gorge can be seen several hundred metres down from the trail. Lunch stop will be at Naxi Family Guesthouse, which is around 1.5-2hours walk from the start point. The most challenging part of the Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail trek, named the 28 Bends, comes after lunch. It takes around 2-2.5hours of steep ascend to hike up to the highest point (2650m). Descending from the highest point of the 28 Bends, day 1 trek ends at Teahorse Guesthouse. On a good day with clear sky, the sunset view of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain from the guesthouse is spectacular.
Day 2 is a shorter trek of around 3 hours. It starts with a relatively flat trail (1.5 to 2hours) to Halfway Guest House (literally the halfway point of the Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail). The trail then opens up to several beautiful water cascades and falls. The most beautiful fall is called Quanyin Fall and the Middle Gorge can be seen here together with the switchbacks of the Low Road. Continue to trek for about 1 hour, then climb up a small ridge (2480m) on a narrow and steep cliff. The trail begins to descend after the ridge and ends at Tina's Guesthouse (2100m). Have a well deserved lunch and visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge before the drive to Haba Village.
In Haba Village, the stay is in a home-stay lodge where one gets to experience a modern farmer's lifestyle. From the lodge (2600m), the day trek begins by walking pass the village houses to enter into the alpine forest filled with pine trees. The beaten trail is set on a gentle slope that leads to a nice view point at 2900m, continue further will be a steeper incline slope that leads to the highest point of the alpine forest at 3500m. The round trip trek takes about 6hrs with a lunch stop at one of the farmers' shelter in the woods.
We will visit Jade Dragon Mountain (via cable car), en-route our drive back to Lijiang from Haba Village.
There are 3 seasons suitable for the Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail trek - spring, autumn and winter.
Spring (April to May) is said to be the finest season for the trek. The air is crisp and dry with bright sunny days. The trail is filled with green trees and spring blossoms. In the day, the temperature is at a comfortable range of around 20 degrees celsius.
Autumn (October to November) is the next best season. While colder than spring, the air is also crisp and dry with bright sunny days.
Winter (December to early March) is the fringe/low season. Though the coldest season, the days are still mostly sunny, dry and clear. The temperature in the day is around 12 degrees celsius and dips to 0 degrees celsius at sundown.
Summer (June to September) is the rainy season and the most unsuitable time for the trek. Heavy rains can make the trail hazardous with landslides and rockfall. The trail and road might also be closed during or after a heavy downpour.
No trekking experience is required. Anyone with an average level of fitness can complete this trek. The trek will bring you to an elevation of (2650m) on the 2D/1N Ancient Tea Horse Trail/High Trail trek and up to a 3500m peak on the day hike in Haba Village. You will be trekking on an average of 4-7 hours a day with a 4-5kg backpack load.
Equipment and Gear
You can wear a quick dry t-shirt, trekking shirt or light weight thermal with trekking pants. For winter, a long sleeve top and bottom is recommended. You will need a fleece jacket and an outer shell jacket. Bring rain gear and waterproof your backpack.
A packing list will be provided to all our participants. Please refer to our Resource Centre page to learn about the layering system and choose the right gear/equipment for your trek.
The Tiger Leaping Gorge-Haba Village Trek with Jade Dragon Mountain is part of our Start Trekking initiative. Through Start Trekking, we hope to encourage more people to take up trekking as a way to keep fit and embrace the great outdoors.
The Start Trekking package fee include a trip leader from Singapore and is based on a group size of 5 - 20 people.
You can also form a private group for this trek. For enquiry, send an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
|Day||Description||Meals||Altitude at Rest Point|
|Day 1||Arrive in Lijiang.||2400m|
|Day 2-3||2D/1N Tiger Leaping Gorge High Trail Trek. Visit Tiger Leaping Gorge and transfer to Haba Village on Day 3||B/L/D||2400m|
|Day 4||Day hike to a peak (3500m) in Haba Village||B/L/D||2600m|
|Day 5||Visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Transfer to Lijiang||B/L/-||2400m|
|Day 6||Depart Lijiang||B/-/-|
Training: Regardless of your level of fitness and physical conditions, it is advisable to train prior to embarking on a trekking or mountain climbing trip.
Pure cardiovascular fitness is NOT enough.
Focus your training effort in the following areas, assuming that you are in good health and injury-free:
- Climbing conditioning – stairs and load training.
- Cardio training - Jogging/running and interval training like CrossFit or HIIT.
- Strength training for the lower body, shoulder, back and core
- Flexibility training - eg: Yoga and stretching exercises
A good two months of training would be a good preparation for this trek.
A recommended training guide specific to the trek or climb will be given to you upon signing up.
Refer to our Grading chart for an overview on the technical difficulty and fitness required for this trek.
Refer to our Training Guide for tips on trekking and mountain climbing training.