Haba-Benxi Route (哈巴-本习路线)
Region: East Peak Group
Itinerary: Haba Village—Haba Muru River—Water Trough Junction—Benxi Village—Tiger Leaping Gorge Highway
Distance: 15 km one-way
Duration: 4½ hours one-way
Altitude in Meters: Start 2,650. Max 3,000. End 1,800
Elevation: Gain 370 meters. Loss 1,200 meters
Hiking Times: Haba Village to ridge crest 1:00 hrs. Haba Muru River 2:00 hrs. Pancake Meadow 2:30 hrs. Water-Trough Junction 3:10 hrs. Top of Benxi Village 4:00 hrs. Tiger Leaping Gorge highway 4:30 hrs.
Optional Itinerary: Tiger Leaping Gorge Highway—Walnut Garden Village
Distance: 6 km one-way
Duration: 1½ hours one-way
Altitude in Meters: Start 1,800. End 2,000
Elevation Gain: 200 meters
Please read the explanation of hiking times, distances, altitudes and rating levels.
The Haba-Benxi Route connects the villages of Haba (哈巴村) and Benxi (本习村), located respectively to the north of Tiger Leaping Gorge (虎跳峡) and in the lower gorge. After a one-hour initial ascent up to a ridge, it’s downhill sailing all the way to Benxi Village and the Tiger Leaping Gorge highway. Portions of this route coincide with or cross over the Luke-Haba Route (栌克-哈巴路线). Dependable water sources are limited, only the Haba Muru River and Water-Trough Junction. Upon reaching the Tiger Leaping Gorge highway, there is an option to continue southwest along the highway to Walnut Garden Village (核桃园) where there are several guest houses.
The Haba-Benxi Route leaves Haba Village on the south edge of town and ascends through forest and meadow to the southwest ridge of Pusa Mountain (普萨山). The climb up to the 3,000-meter ridge takes one hour.
Two transmission lines cross over the ridge. A short distance north, a dirt road also crosses over. Follow the road and pass under both lines within the first 200 meters from the ridge crest. At the second line, turn right onto a path that heads south. For the next hour the path descends gradually, first toward and then along the base of Haba Snow Mountain (哈巴雪山).
20 minutes past the ridge crest, walk by an area of graves, then cross a dirt road. Soon, you arrive at a wide dirt road heading southeast and downhill. Depending on which of several paths you choose, you may reach the wide road at a hut where there are water troughs. Or you may reach the road lower down, but still within a couple hundred meters of the hut.
Follow the road southeast. When the road turns left downhill, follow the path straight ahead. Continue in a southeasterly direction, traversing the base of the mountain. Make a short, steep descent into a small drainage which is often dry. During high water, the drainage floods and washes sand and debris widely, forming an area of sterile ground I call “The Desert” (沙漠). The drainage deposits sometimes hinder traffic on the road between Ennu and Haba villages. Beyond the small drainage, arrive at a meadow with a view to a sub summit of Haba Snow Mountain.
Haba Muru River
Two hours into the trek, the Haba Muru River—often more a brook than a river —provides the next landmark on the Haba-Benxi Route. Here, an aqueduct diverts water to “The Desert” in the valley below. I call it Haba Muru for convenience, as I haven’t discovered a local name. It means Golden Flower Snow Mountain in the Naxi language.
At the Haba Muru River, several options present themselves: a) turn left off the path before the river, b) turn left after the river, or c) continue on the path for another kilometer or so and then turn left off the path. Whichever way you proceed, you want to arrive at Pancake Meadow next.
Were you to continue the path along the base of Haba Snow Mountain, it would cross over the mountains to Bendiwan Village (本地湾村) in Tiger Leaping Gorge. That’s the Haba-Bendiwan Route, a magnificent multi-day trek passing through Haba Muru Sanctuary.
Choosing option a) you will enjoy nice views of Haba Snow Mountain while walking through open forest without trail.
Look southeast for the next landmark—two hills, elevation 2,710 and 2,770 meters. Hill 2770 on the right (west) bears the prominent feature of a long rock escarpment. The Haba-Benxi Route navigates between the hills and traverses the flat and uniform Pancake Meadow. At the southern end of the meadow, the route enters forest and begins a long descent through a drainage. The path in this section may fade out several times—stay in or near the drainage bottom.
30 minutes or less after leaving the meadow, you will arrive at an important landmark, Water-Trough Junction (水槽路口), elevation approximately 2,450 meters. Here, several troughs form the letter T. They sit deep within a pocket of trees and you could easily pass by without noticing. If you don’t want to miss the junction, try looking back over your shoulder toward the drainage bottom at frequent intervals.
At Water-Trough Junction, trekking routes radiate in four directions. West, to Luke’s Hostel and the middle section of Tiger Leaping Gorge along the Luke-Haba Route. Southeast, to Benxi Village and the lower part of the gorge. North, in one hour to Ennu Village (恩努村) along the Luke-Haba Route. Northwest, to Haba Village along the Haba-Benxi Route described here.
From Water-Trough Junction, the Haba-Benxi Route continues in a southeasterly direction, descending steadily and sometimes steeply downhill. Within a few minutes, glimpses of Daju Village (大具乡) on the far side of the Jinsha River (金沙江) come into view.
After passing a large cultivated field, follow a dirt road that switchbacks down to the top of the paved road above Benxi Village. You may have to open (and close) a gate on the way. At the paved road, a distance marker indicates three kilometers to the Tiger Leaping Gorge highway. From here on down, there are extensive views of the Jinsha River Valley. Arrive at the highway 4½ hours after starting the hike.
Upon reaching the highway, turn right for Walnut Garden Village and destinations south in Tiger Leaping Gorge. Alternatively, turn left and walk in 20 minutes to the gas station, or continue on to Haba Village and to destinations north. If the gas station is open, you can obtain transport by asking the attendant to ring up a local taxi. Otherwise, call a guest house.
Optional Road Walk to Walnut Garden
The uphill walk to Walnut Garden Village is six kilometers and takes 1½ hours with a gain of 200 meters. There you will find several places of accommodation, among them Woody’s, Sean’s, and Tibet guest houses. This stretch of highway is subject to rockfall, especially during wet or windy weather. Calling a guest house for a lift instead of walking the road is an option.
Guides, Lodging and Transportation
There are guesthouses in Haba Village where you can hire a guide. See the Guides page for more information. Check out the Lodging page for detailed info on accommodation along the route. For transportation advice on getting in and out of Tiger Leaping Gorge, read Dan Siekman’s excellent guide. At Ennu Village a taxi service is available. In Haba Village, inquire at any guest house to arrange minivan service.