Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2009

Forge Through a Gorge in Yunnan

For centuries, the rocky pathway that clings to the steep sides of the narrow Tiger Leaping Gorge in China's Yunnan province was traversed only by the horse caravans of tea merchants. Now this ancient route offers one of the most rewarding hikes on the planet. Imposing Himalayan foothills tower over either side of the canyon, framing the nine-mile (15 km) trek as amazing scenes of rugged natural beauty emerge around each of the many switchbacks. The two-day hike isn't particularly difficult, but it should be broken up with a stay at one of the hostels in the farming villages along the route. The Halfway House is a simple inn that serves up cold beer, magical apple pie and the "Toilet with the Best View Under Heaven" — a convenience offering a spectacular vista of the jagged peaks of the Jade Dragon Mountains.

— By Chengcheng Jiang