We drove from Lijiang to Shangri La (Zhongdian) through the countryside with stunning sceneries. On our way, we stopped for few hours by the Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the world’s deepest river canyons where the Yangtze River passes through the gorge with cliffs almost 4’000 meters either side. According to a legend the place was named after a tiger, which escaped from a hunter to save its life by jumping across the river at the narrowest point. This point is about 25 meters wide, but it was covered by flooding water while we were there.
One morning we visited the magnificent Sumtsenling Monastery in Shangri La, which is the largest Tibetan tantric monastery in Yunnan Province and home to 700 monks. The oldest part of the temples date back to the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama while the newest parts are still being built. The temple area is really beautiful with all the colours and flags, and inside the temples you can discover the amazing stories painted on the walls.
The stunning Pu Dacuo National Park, which is located on 3’500 meters above the sea level about an hour drive from Shangri La, was one of our day trip destinations. The park is only accessible by park busses, which will take you to the first hiking trail, which takes about 45 minutes and passes the colourful lake area. This view reminded me a bit of Finnish Lapland with blue water and old pine trees surrounded by hanging lichen. The second lake is much bigger and you can make a good 2-3 hours walk around it. It is amazing you can find this kind of place in China with such a high altitude!
While on the Tibetan Plateau, we stayed in a village of Ringha a short drive from Shangri La centre. The village itself is very picturesque with Tibetan style houses surrounded by the spectacular natural setting. Every morning yaks were walking through the village, and even our hotel area, to the mountains to spend their day there and then returning back in the evenings. I also spotted some cute black pigs eating the grass just outside our hotel door. At 3,200 meters above the sea level where the air is a bit thin was easy to relax and just enjoy the beauty around you…