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Yunnan Adventure: 10-day
The First Bend of Yangtze River Rafting and Tiger Leaping Gorge Trekking Tour

 

Highlights:

• This tour is designed with the outdoor enthusiast in mind! The Great Bend of the Yangtze River makes a hairpin turn through a remarkable 10,000-foot-deep gorge (almost twice as deep as the Grand Canyon!) before continuing its march to the sea. On this trip, we run some 120 miles of the Great Bend—a spectacular whitewater experience, with about a dozen Class IV rapids, including some fun Grand Canyon–style wave trains
• You’ll also get to hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world’s deepest and longest canyons, and is considered by most to be the best hiking route in all of China
• On this tour you will also have fascinating cultural encounters with the Naxi people and descendents of Tibetan traders. Above all, you’ll be in the secure hands of our top river guides—the best in the world!

B=(Breakfast) L=(lunch) D=(dinner)  DEPARTURE: Daily

 

TOUR ITINERARY

Tour code:
AYN-06
Day 1: arrive in Kunming (D)

You will fly to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in southwest China, and upon arrival at Kunming International airport you’ll be met by your English-speaking guide. From the airport you’ll be taken to your 4 star hotel, and you will be able to unpack and relax after your flight.

Kunming is the capital of southwest China's Yunnan province, a primarily agricultural province of 45 million. Kunming has a population of five million and is located in one of the world's most geographically, ethnically, biologically and linguistically diverse regions. Situated at 1,900 meters (6,233ft) above sea level and 25° north of the Equator it has a rather unique and pleasant climate for a Chinese city. Kunming is also well known as the Spring City because of its nice climate all year round.

Day 2: Kunming-Lijiang (B, L, D)

Following breakfast in the hotel, you’ll get started on the day’s activities with a trip to the Stone Forest. It will take between 1-2 hours to drive there because it is 86km from the city. Being one of the National Scenic Resorts in China, the Stone Forest Scenic Resort has a complete range of karst formations. Among the most wonderful attractions in this area are the following eight scenic spots: Large & Small Stone Forests, Naigu Stone Forests, Large & Small Zhiyun Caves, Qingfeng Cave, Long Lake, Moon Lake, Fairy Lake, Feilong Falls. Standing upright in the Stone Forest are innumerable cliffs and peaks, lofty and majestic, steep and precipitous, charming and enchanting.

From afar, it really looks like a dense forest but as you walk closer, you will find "trees" are all slender stone pinnacles. The sight is vast covering some 350 kilometers. The Yi and Sani ethnic group who live there are hardworking and good at singing and dancing. Their folklore and culture are colorful and multifarious, backed up by a long history.

Following a lunch of traditional Yunnan food we’ll drive back into Kunming, and you will be taken to the airport, and you will make the short flight to Lijiang, which is located in northwest Yunnan. Lijiang is a charming little city that is an enclave of ethnic minority cultures, and the Naxi ethnic group is especially prevalent here. When you arrive in Lijiang you will be met by your guide, and from there you wil lget to stroll along the Lijiang Old Town. The old town is made up of three old districts that retain a special character of Naxi and Han construction and Naxi customs, arts and culture. It was a former trading town and a stop for traders carrying goods on the “Chama Road” trails. It was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997 following an earthquake and reconstruction in 1996 that returned the city to a more ancient look. The UNESCO description says: “The Old Town of Lijiang, which is perfectly adapted to the uneven topography of this key commercial and strategic site, has retained a historic townscape of high quality and authenticity.

You will then be taken to your hotel for the evening.

Day 3:
Lijiang-Qizong (B, L, D)

After breakfast we will make the 6 hour drive to the village of Qizhong a little village by the side of the Golden Sand River (which is what the Yunnan people call the Yangtze River), and we will prepare our materials and equipment for the rafting trip the next day. For the night we will stay in a guesthouse in the village.

The Yangtze is the third longest river in the World, but the longest river within a single country. The Yangtze River is rich in scenery and culture. The arid rooftop of the world (the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau) with its Tibetan culture, is the Yangtze’s source.

Day 4: Qizong-Judian (B, L, D)

Today we will get started on our rafting trip down the mighty Yangtze, and most of our day today will be taken up by the water rafting. From Qizong we will raft down to Judian, and the distance is about 37km, which is another little village along the Yangtze. For the night we will stay in a guesthouse.

Day 5: Judian-Zhongzei (B, L, D)

Like the day before, this will be a full day of rafting, so we hope you have the stamina to persevere! From Judian we will raft down to Zhongzei, another little town along the Yangtze. We’ll spend the night in a little inn in the town.

Day 6:
 Zhongzei-Shigu (B, L, D)

You’ve made it! This will be our final day of rafting down the Yangtze. From Zhongzei we will raft the final 39km to the fairly big town of Shigu (known as the “Stone Drum). The town is situated on the First Bend of the Yangtze. It is called the “first bend” because the river makes a 90 degree turn from south to east within a distance of 1 kilometer. The place was important militarily because big armies crossed the river at that point, and it was a place where Tibetans came down to trade with the people living in the area. It is an interesting scenic area, and there is hiking and other outdoor activities in the area.

Then we’ll visit the Stone Drum Town of Shigu This town derives its name from a white marble carved monument in the shape of a drum, (diameter 15 m, thickness 0.7 m). This monument memorializes the victory and subsequent spread of power of Baizhuang, the Tusi of Mu Family of Lijiang, during the Jiajin years of the Ming Dynasty. This historically relevant stone monument was erected during one of the earliest periods in Lijiang. To the right of the monument is a lovely willow forest at its bank; while on the left flows the Chongjiang River. Spanning this river is the 17m long Tiehong Bridge, constructed of boards paved over iron chains, and with similar iron chains serving as fences on both sides. Stone Drum Town is a historically important town on the ancient trade route for tea and horses between inland provinces and Tibet. The town still features a flourishing trade fair, currently held every three days.

For the night we will stay at a local guesthouse, and recuperate from our rafting, while getting ready for our hike through Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Day 7: Shigu-Qiaotu-Halfway Guesthouse (B, L, D)

After breakfast we’ll make a quick 1-hour rafting trip down to Qiaotu, a little village that marks the start of our Tiger leaping Gorge hike. iger Leaping Gorge is one of the world’s deepest gorges, and is tucked in between Jade Dragon now Mountain and Haba Mountain. At a length of 17km, Tiger Leaping Gorge is the birthplace of the ancient Lijiang culture, whose people lived in the many caves, big and small, in the side of Yulong Xueshan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain). These caves were naturally formed houses. In some caves, rock paintings and artifacts shedding light on the life of these primitive peoples were found. The rock paintings have now become another attraction of Tiger Leaping Gorge. The gorge is regarded as one of the top ten hiking trails in China. At the mouth of the upper gorge, squeezed by the two snow-capped mountains and further blocked by the huge Tiger Leaping Boulder, the Golden Sand River (Yangtze) is only 25 meters in width. The water there makes violent whirlpools and hits the banks so powerfully that soaring breakers are created.

Today we will hike 17 KM for approximately seven hours to the Halfway Guest House. Firstly, we’ll hike two hours to the Naxi Family Guest House, and we’ll have lunch there. Then we’ll continue to hike for another 2 hours further up the steep 28-bends, and here the views are remarkable. After another 2-3 hours on the way we will arrive at the Half Way Guest House, which provides a great view of Yulong Snow Mountain, which overlooks the Jinshao River Valley. We’ll stay overnight in the Halfway Guesthouse.

Day 8: Halfway Guesthouse-Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge-Daju-Lijiang (B, L, D)


After getting up early in the morning, we’ll hike down to Tina's Guest House, and this will take us about 2 hours. On the way we’ll pass through the Guanyin waterfall and canyons. After having lunch at Tina's, it’s another 1-hour walk down the steep cliffs to the bank of the Jinsha River and Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, where pilgrims once worshiped the dangerous shoal of "Starriness”. It is the narrowest part of the gorge, where it is said that a tiger could easily jump over the Jinsha River. We’ll walk the 1-hour back to Tina's. Then after a half hour's drive we’ll arrive at the Xincun village pier, the lowest section of the Gorge where you will take a ferry across the river to the Daju pier. It usually takes about 1.5-2 hours from Xincun pier to Daju pier. For the evening, we’ll stay at a guesthouse at Daju.

Day 9: Daju-Jade Dragon Snow Mountain-Lijiang (B, L, D)

On the drive back to Lijiang, we will stop to visit Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The Jade Dragon Snow Mountains are a small group of peaks close to the city of Lijiang. The nearest slope is only about 30 kilometers north of the Dayan Ancient City District, and the mountain can be clearly seen from the Black Dragon Pool next to the ancient district. The group of mountains is notable because they contain a small ski area, good hiking along Tiger Leaping Gorge, great scenic views, and a 15,000 foot mountain with a specially built stairway and path to make climbing to the summit easy. If you’d like to climb to the top of a high mountain, that might be one to try. There is no sliding on steep paths or climbing with your hands, the distance from the tram is short, and oxygen tanks can be rented for a little more than 4 dollars USD. But the view is excellent! The tallest peak called Shanzidou has only been climbed once by two Americans who say it is extremely dangerous. The Yangtze River runs through Tiger Leaping Gorge in the valley below. The mountains are a place to go to in Yunnan for skiing or fun in the snow in the winter and for hiking and enjoying the natural scenery the rest of the year. By cable car and by foot we’ll visit all the scenic spots of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, including the Yak Meadow and the Ganhaizi Meadow.

Before reaching Lijiang, we’ll do one last bit of touring at the Baisha Old Town.The Baisha Old Town is one of the oldest towns in Lijiang. It is the earliest settlement of the Naxi people and is the birthplace of "Tusi", chief of the Mu clan. In the town there are many ancient buildings built during the Ming Dynasty, including Dabaoji Palace, Liuli Temple, and Wenchang Palace. The well-known Baisha Frescoes are located in Dabaoji Palace. Because of the white sand on the ground, the town was named "Baisha", which means "white sand". In the Naxi language, it is called "bengshi". The architectural complex is made up of two parts, folk residence and cultural sites. The folk residence is called "pengshizhi" which in the local language means "Baisha Streets". The streets all go from south to north. In the center of the old town there is a square where three thoroughfares intersect. Houses and small stores stand on the both sides of these streets. A crystal clear stream winds around all the houses flowing through the small town from north to south.

The center of town features a beautiful rendering of frescoes religious frescoes. The 44 pieces of Baisha frescos were drawn in the early Ming Dynasty. Most of the paintings are about religious stories of Taoism, Buddhism, and Tibetan Buddhism. The murals embody the artistic characteristics of the Naxi, Tibetan, Han and Bai ethnic groups. Among them the paintings about Kwan-yin and Sakyamuni are the most famous ones. Now Baisha Frescos, also known as Lijing Frescos have become precious data for the study of China's history of arts and religions.

We will then arrive at Lijiang, and you can spend the evening at your own leisure. After all the rafting and hiking you’ve done, you might already be wiped out!

Day 10: depart Lijiang (B)


After breakfast in the hotel, you will be taken to the Lijiang airport, and you will fly on to your next destination, ending your great journey through Yunnan.

Stuff to bring:
• Sturdy shoes or boots, sunglasses and sunscreen
• Bug spray and any other items needed in dealing with the tropical heat
• Tips for a job well done by your guides and drivers, money for any personal expenses not mentioned

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