Less than 40 miles north of the ancient town of Lijiang is the spectacular Tiger Leaping Gorge, a deep canyon forged over time by the powerful Jinsha River. It gets its evocative name from the local legend that tells of a tiger leaping majestically across the narrowest point of the thunderous river to escape its hunters. Not the most exciting legend, until you consider the fact that the gap measured some 25 metres wide!
Small hamlets of the local Naxi people dot the landscape, whilst the gorge itself sits within the protected Three Parallel Rivers National Park, an area of rich biodiversity, with abundant wildlife and rare plants. The real attraction here though is the jaw-dropping scenery, as the turquoise river snakes its way around the vertiginous cliffs, which rise sharply overhead, before it drops and gathers more pace, foaming into frothy white rapids.
A day visit here gives you a scenic overview of this extraordinary natural wonder and can also be combined with a panoramic view of the first bend of the mighty Yangtze River, the third longest in the world. The path of the river bends dramatically in a horse-shoe shape, creating one of the most arresting vistas in China. The bend is situated close to the Naxi village of Shiguzhen, with its local market and Iron Rainbow Suspension Bridge.