Today we left Lijiang by car for Shangri-la. I had always thought Shangri-la was a mystical, make-believe Eden from somebody’s folklore…Turns out it is a real town (by Chinese standards) of 125,000. On the way there, we reached the headwaters of the Yangtze River, which is the largest in China. Many visitors do cruises downriver on the Yangtze. We stopped at what the Chinese call the First Bend of the Yangtze…Not because it is The first, but because they feel it is the most important. If the Yangtze did not bend here, it would flow into Myanmar instead of China. A view of the bend is below:
Then it was upriver to Leaping Tiger Gorge. As we climbed in elevation, mountain ranges encroached on both sides of the Yangtze. The water goes from smooth to raging, as the gorge narrows to 20 meters. Legend has it that a Tiger leaped from one side onto Leaping Rock, then jumped to the other cliff to complete his migration… Hence, Leaping Tiger Gorge. Pics first:
And now a video:
We climbed back up the Gorge and drove further north. The road to Shangri-la followed the river, then gained elevation. Soon we were looking down a good 1500 vertical feet as the mountains welcomed us. The Chinese are building a new road and railroad to link Lijiang with Shangri-la. In fact, there are construction projects everywhere. But the new road will miss the Gorge!!