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Yak Meadow, Lijiang

Yak Meadow, an important component of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Scenic Area, lies at the northern tip of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. It begins from Liming Road in the east, and ends at the Black Water River in the south. Its west is the east side of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and its north is the upper part of Xuehua Village. It covers an area of 16.6 square kilometers.

How it got its name
The landscape rises and falls on the meadow. In spring and summer, Yaks with black and white skin wander in grass and all kinds of flowers. In autumn and winter, the mild edge of th meadow becoms a sharp contrast with the peaks of the snow mountain.

Four seasons on the Yak Meadow
On the Yak Meadow, full bloom flowers are as brilliant as brocade in spring. In summer, the grass looks like a green carpet. Yaks with black and white skin wander in grass and all kinds of flowers. In autumn, all plants are growing luxuriantly. In winter, the meadow is dressed in white snow. The mild edge of th meadow becoms a sharp contrast with the peaks of the snow mountain. The picturesque Yak Meadow is an incomparable holy place for sightseeing and vacationing.

What to see
Yak Meadow is a representative pastureland. The scenery of snowfield in the high mountain accompanies the brook of the Black Water River. Taking the natural and quiet primitive forests as the center, scenery in Yak Meadow is colorful and breathtaking.

Yak Meadow
Yak Meadow

High latitude and wide meadow give you a board view. Looking down at Ganhaizi, Yunshanping and continuous mountains, you will find that the snow mountain is so close to you. Clouds circle around the waist of mountain. Cool wind gently blows on your face. All the things here are so peaceful and beautiful.

Yak Meadow
Yak Meadow

The gorge is divided into three sections: Upper, Middle and Lower Hutiao. At the narrowest spot the river is only 30 meters wide. The mouth of the gorge is 1,800 meters above sea level. The river is flanked by Yulong and Haba snow mountains, with a height difference of 3,900 meters. It is one of the deepest gorges in the world.

Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge
Flowing through Shigu Town, the Jinsha River is flanked by the Yulong Snow Mountain to the east and the Haba Snow Mountain to the west.

Yak Meadow
Yak Meadow

From the top of the Yulong Snow Mountain to the bottom of the gully is a drop of 3,700 meters, making it 1,800 meters deeper than the Colorado Grand Canyon, while the Haba Snow Mountain slopes gradually in its upper regions and is steeper further down. The mountain is 5,396 meters above sea level and the lowest point on the bank of the Jinsha River is 1,550 meters above sea level. The two mountains flanking the Jinsha River form a 15-km Gorge -- Tiger Leaping Gorge, further classified into the upper, middle and lower Tiger Leaping Gorge.

The Upper Tiger Leaping Gorge is the narrowest section, and in the center of the river is a huge rock called Tiger Leaping Rock. It is said that a tiger once leapt from the east bank, clearing the rock, to land on the west bank, hence its name.

Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge
The most perilous section is the Middle Tiger Leaping Gorge, which features a huge drop in water level. Six km away from the upper gorge is a waterfall where the river crashes down over 100 meters hitting the rocks in the river bed and creating violent currents.

In one 100-meter section are numerous reefs, and the current is torrential. The gorge is rarely traversed by humans, but on the slope between the Middle and Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge there is a small village -- Hetaoyuan Village, which has little contact with the outside, and where villagers lead a simple and natural life, dwelling in stone-plate houses.

Lower Tiger Leaping Gorge
The most important sight in the lower gorge is the Feixing Rapids, from which people can look down on the unconstrained Jinshajiang River. A 32 km long road from the Haba Mountain to Jiangbian Village has been opened to traffic, but traveling on foot is much more interesting.

From Wlanut Grove to Haba, via Jiangbian, it is seven to eight hours. From here to the Yi village of Sanba is about the same, following trails. You could just follow the road and hitch with the occasional truck or tracker but this way is longer and less scenic. Some hardy mountain bikers have followed the trails but this is really only fun from north to south, elevations being what they are. The best way would be to hire a guide.

In Haba most people stay at Haba Snow Mountain Inn; In Sanba the Shanzhuangluguan. From Sanba there is an 8 am bus to Zhongdian (five hours), or you could get off at the turn-off to Emerald Pagoda Lake (Bita Lake, 25 km east of Zhongdia) and hike there.

Villagers here
With customs of primitive simplicity, and strong minority nationality's culture, the villagers mainly live on husbandry.

What to eat
When you arrive the summit, have a simple Tibetan style breakfast at the moutain top! Hot Yak milk is something that can not be missed, at this moment, this place.

Getting the summit
Service of a Cable car transfer to the summit is available. Highly recommend you to leave the town of Dayan earlier in the morning, to take the cable car. Usually it is very crowded from 9:00 in the morning. So you'd better leave the town at 7:00a.m., and drive one hour to the Yak Meadow.

Tour sites near here
Follow the trekking trail and walk around the forest. Yulong Snow Mountain is the spititual prop of the Naxi. The God of Jade Dragon, Sanduo, is the greatest protector of the Naxi people.

When to go
The best time to visit Yak Meadow is from April to July to enjoy the temperate spring and summer temperatures. The flowers for which Yunnan is famous are at their peak in late spring, from the middle to late May.

Trekking Routes in Tiger Leaping Gorge
There are three routes. One can start from Hutiaoxia Town along the river to Daju in Lijiang County, or go upstream from Daju. The third route sets out from Hutiaoxia Town to Hetao-yuan and is 28 km in length.

An adventurous add-on to the gorge trek is to continue north all the way to Haba village and the limestone terraces of Baishuitai, making it a four-day trek from Qiaotou. From here you will travel on to Zhongdian.

Yak Meadow
Yak Meadow

The furtherest from Lijiang at a distance of 60km, this cable car, costs 60 RMB for a round-trip. At an elevation of 3,500 metres and the least-visited of the three chair lifts this area offers grazing yaks, a Tibetan temple and a number of hiking possibilities. On the way to the chairlift's lower terminus the road drips down and crosses a river. A number of yaks are located here where for a fee you can sit on one. Their owners seem to have no objection to visitors taking photos for no fee of the yaks standing in the river with awesome Jade Dragon Snow Mountain in the background. You can also access Yak Meadow by hopping aboard bus 7 across from the Mao Zedong statue which will take you to the Impression Lijiang Theater for 10 RMB. At the theater there is a ticket booth to the left of the show entrance which sells tickets to both Spruce Meadow and Yak Meadow (80 RMB) and provides a tour bus to and from the cable cars and a cable car ticket. Be sure to find out what time the last bus passes the Impression Lijiang theater or you may find yourself calling a taxi which could be expensive. Also see "Impression Lijiang" info for entrance fees to the park itself.

Edited by Athena Lee
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