Hike in Northern Yunnan from Lake Lugu to Shangri La

A hike in Northern Yunnan of moderate level through remote and authentic Naxi, Mosuo, Pumi and Yi Minority villages in modest accommodation but allowing you to observe the daily life of these rural populations. A cultural discovery within generous and smiling families, with beautiful background landscapes of mountains, valleys and plains discovered recently between Lake Lugu and the Tiger Leaping Gorge.

You will visit :

Useful information about the trek 

  • During the 6 first days exploring the villages between Lugu and Tiger Leap Gorge, accommodation will be in modest conditions, but always with a warm and friendly welcome from local people.
  • Anyone in good shape and used to hiking could do this hike.
  • Hikers will need to carry everyday their necessary items for daytime, the other items will be carried by horse or by car. 
  • Hiking times indicated are an estimation of moderate rythm including pauses, photo stops and visiting the villages.

When is the best time for this hike?

The trek from Lugu to the Tiger Leap Gorge, combined with visiting the Lijiang and Shangrila regions, can be done all year long but preferably not from June to August during the rainy season when the risk of falls on slippery trails is higher. Besides Shangrila whose Altitude is 3200 m, the hike takes place at an average altitude of 2000 – 2400m. The best time of the year is from March to May, then from September to November.

Daily program: Hike in Northern Yunnan from Lake Lugu to Shangri La Download the PDF brochure

Day 1 : Arrival in Lijiang ~ 40min drive

Arrival in Lijiang on flight… Welcoming at your arrival at the Airport and transfer towards Lijiang Old Town (entry : 80 RMB per person). Check In in the charming hotel Manty House. Rest of the day free.   Overnight at charming Manty House 3*.

Day 2 : Lijiang - Lugu Lake (B) ~ Altitude : 2680m

Meet your local driver and guide at 09 am. Long half day drive from Lijiang to Lugu Lake. Free lunch on the way. Small cruise on the lake after your arrival, reach Liwubi Island where you will be exactly at the border between Yunnan and Sichuan. Overnight in a charming guest house close to the lake.

Day 3 : Lugu Lake – Zhuangzi (B, L, D) ~ 6h trek. Ascending / descending elevation : +600m/-600m

Transfer to Yongning City. Then 3 hours walk on an ascending track through a Mosuo Minority Village then another Yi Village. Keep on walking for about 3 hours through a beautiful azalea and Rhododendron forest, including a 3600m Pass with a small spring where you might see a few goats water themselves. Way down until you reach Zhuangzi Pumi Village (elevation 2700 m.). Diner and overnight in a local family house (common bathroom and shower).

Day 4 : Zhuangzi - Baojiahe (B, L, D) ~ 4 to 5h trek. Ascending /descending elevation : +300m/-600m

4 to 5 hours walk today through Mosuo, Pumi and Lisu villages in a wild countryside to access to Baojiahe Lisu Minority village, in the mountains, elevation 2100 m. Overnight in a Lisu local family house (basic shower in the farm’s backyard).

Day 5 : Baojiahe - Zizhuang (B, L, D) ~ 6-7h trek. Ascending / descending elevation : +800m/-800m

Morning walk to reach a first pass after about an hour, then 3 hours walk down to the Yangtsé River. Lunch in a local restaurant on the road then walk the way up on the other side of the valley for about 4 or 5 hours (you can take a shorter but steeper shortway if you want to climb faster), up to Zizhuang Naxi Village, elevation 2200m. Overnight in a local family house at the end of the road, in the highest farm of the village, the hostess will probably offer you a glass of rice or corn alcohol and sing traditional songs for you, beware of her alcohol resistance.

Day 6 : Zizhuang – Liuqing (B, L, D) ~ 6h trek. Ascending / descending elevation : +800m/-700m

2 hours walk down to the Yangtse River, that you will cross on a small bark. Walk up again on the other side until Lianhu Wan Naxi Village, then to the upper Liuqing Village (2h walk). Lunch. Keep on walking towards lower Liuqing village, elevation about 2350, about 2 hours walking this afternoon. Accommodation in a Naxi family in the Higher Liuqing village (common bathroom, basic shower). The local specialty in Sichuan pepper, if you like this condiment you can get the best quality directly to the producer.

Day 7 : Liuqing - Baoshan (B, L, D) ~ 5 to 6h trek. Ascending / descending elevation : +300m/-750m

5 to 6 hours walk today, first towards the top of the said ” Prince ” Mountain (2470m), and then going through 2 tunnels dug in the mountain (90m and 60m long), those tunnels were dug by the postal services network during the Great Leap Forward under Chairman Mao and which allowed to carry the mail from a valley to another in 24 hours instead of 3 days before the tunnels were dug. Keep on walking on an impressive track downwards on the mountainside down to Baoshan Village (1900 m. elevation), build on a giant rock and reminding for some the Machu Pichu. Accommodation at Mu’s Family’s Guest House (private toilet and shower), much probably the guest house with the most beautiful view in Yunnan with its terrace!

Day 8 : Baoshan - Daju - Tiger Leaping Gorge (B, L) ~ 2h Trek. Ascending / descending elevation : +200m/-200m

Short walk then drive to Daju village (about 5 hours drive), located at the entry of Tiger Leaping Gorge in a beautiful valley. Cross the Yangtse River on a motorised barge. Walk on a steep track towards the lower Gorge, right next to this prestigious river. Way upon another steep track with a 200m ascending elevation, in the Middle Gorge where you will spend the night at Sean’s Guest House (1800m elevation)

Day 9 : Tiger Leaping Gorge - Shangri La (B) ~ 4h drive. Altitude : 3200m

Beautiful road to the Tibetan region of Shangri La, going through the Haba Valley. Halfway, you will discover the astonishing Baishuitai Limestone Terraces. Followed by a road with nice views on the Haba Mountain and Jade Dragon Mountain. Check in at Timeless Inn Tibetan Guest House, in the very heart of Shangrila Old City. Rest of the day free.

Day 10 : Shangri La (B)

Walk on the local market then discover Songzanlin tibetan monastery this morning. Walk around Shangrila‘s old town, including Baijisi Temple located on a hill with nice views on Shangrila and the Shika Mountains. Free lunch. This afternoon you will be able to discover the local Tibetan countryside on foot or riding a bicycle : various itinerary are possible, upon which you can agree with your guide in the morning according to your wills and skills. You can visit a random Tibetan local family, meet the local people and try the famous Yak Butter Tea, the Tsampa and the Yak Butter cheese. Tonight you can see and take part to the spontaneous dances with local people on the old town’s square. Free dinner. Overnight in your Tibetan Guest House.

Day 11 : Departure from Shangri La (B)

Transfer to Shangri La airport and check in to your next destination. 

End of our services. Our team wishes you a nice way back home with beautiful memories in mind !

Extension - Day 9 : Tiger Leaping Gorge - Liming (B) ~ 3h Trek. Ascending /descending elevation : -400m/-400m

Meet your new English-speaking driver and guide and new impressive hike close to the river, free lunch after the hike and road towards Liming. Check in in a beautiful wooden guest house and first visit of the village. Free dinner and overnight at Nuomadi.

Extension - Day 10 : Liming - Tacheng (B) ~ 4h Trek

Today you will hike in the 1000 Turtles Mountain, for half a day or more in this protected natural park. Free Lunch and road towards Tacheng. Free dinner. Check in and overnight in Habudayun Guest House

Extension - Day 11 : Tacheng – Meili (B) ~ 2h30 drive. Altitude : 3300m

This morning you will meet the Yunnan Golden Monkeys, they are quite early riser, we recommend to go for a walk in the forest about 7.30 am in order to get more opportunities to meet them, they become much more discreet after 11.30 am. Then drive to Meili by the Mingyong Glacier’s road, where you will already have a beautiful view on the road and when you get there. Free dinner, check in and overnight at the Once Upon a Time in Meili.

Extension - Day 12 : Meili - Xidang - Yubeng (B, D) ~ Altitude : 3200m

Road to Xidang Tibetan village (2500m), following the Mekong Valley. Leave your things in the car parked in a safe parking lot and start today’s hike, first up to Namzong Pass at 3600m, then down to Yubeng village (3200m), located at the foot of the mountain. Dinner and overnight in a family guest house. About 2h drive and 6h walk today. Overnight in a hiker’s cabin.

Extension - Day 13 : Yubeng - Ninong - Meili (B) ~ Altitude : 3300m

5 to 7 hours hike to Ninong Village following the Yubeng river until it flows into the Mekong River, along impressive gorges. Road to Mingyong Village. Discover the Mingyong Glacier with a local shuttle to access it. Then drive to Feilaisi Village. Free dinner. Check in and overnight at the Once Upon a Time in Meili.

Extension - Day 14 : Meili - Benzilan - Shangri La (B) ~ 4h drive. Altitude : 3200m

Road towards Shangrila and first visit this morning of the Dongzhulin Monastery and a little nunnery above Benzilan, then towards Shangrila, going through Nixi Village where potters work with black pottery in a traditional way. Arrival in the afternoon and check in at Timeless Inn guest house in Shangrila’s old center. Rest of the night free. Overnight at Timeless Inn.

And continuation of the itinerary from day 10 on the original program.

Discover our PDF with every information you should know about this tour, the 5-day extension, and the hotels.

  • Click on the markers of the map to view the description of the step.
  • Press the "Switch to full screen" icon at the top right of the map to get the best overview of the circuit.
  • Press "Esc" to exit the "Full Screen" mode or click on the icon at the top right.
  • Also use the and zoom functions or move the icon to switch to "Street View" mode.
  • Complete the form to contact us. An agent answers all your questions.

The price includes

  • Accommodation as described in the program, including breakfast 
  • All necessary transfers in a private minivan
  • English Speaking Guide from day 2 to 15
  • Logistic support to carry and keep your luggage during the treks
  • Accommodation and meals expenses for your guides and drivers
  • Access costs and activities as described in the program
  • Meals as described in the program (see : B, L, D) including a drink for each person

The price does not include

  • Flight to Lijiang and from Shangrila (we can offer you a rate on demand) 
  • Meals and drinks to get according to your wishes and your guide’s recommendation   
  • Distant Chinese Visa application (our agency can offer it for 140€  per person)   
  • Personal expenses and activities that are not explicitly described in the program   
  • Travel expenses, tips to the guide (about 80 RMB / day) and to the driver (about 50 RMB / day) 

Private tour on a 2 travelers basis – flights not included – : 9800RMB per person, that is 1218€ per person

Private tour on a 4 travelers basis – flights not included – : 6400RMB per person, that is 782€ per person

Private tour on a 6 travelers basis – flights not included – : 5500RMB per person, that is 667€ per person


Extra charge for the 5 days extension in the Shangri La Hinterlands and Meili Mountain  :

4900RMB per person, that is 628€ per person on a 2 travelers basis

3200RMB per person, that is 410€ per person on a 4 travelers basis

2900RMB per person, that is 372€ per person on a 6 travelers basis

Antoine is an expert on this circuit Hike in Northern Yunnan from Lake Lugu to Shangri La.
He will answer all your questions about this trip and will adapt it according to your particular desires and your budget.
Contact Antoine by email antoine.chinaroads@gmail.com or on this form

Share your thoughts!

Let us know what you think...



Continue as a Guest

Don't have an account? Sign Up