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Namtso Lake, Body in Hell and Mind in Heaven


Introduction of Namtso Lake Religion Significance of Namtso Lake
Highlights of Namtso Lake Travel Tips of Namtso Lake
Gallery of Namtso LakeTibet Travel Special Coverage



 Introduction of Namtso Lake

Together with Lake Manasarovar and Lake Yamdrok, Namtso Lake is famed as one of the Top Three Holy Lakes in Tibet. Sitting in the heart of Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, the roof of the world, Namtso Lake (30°42′N 90°33′E / 30.7°N 90.55°E ) nestles in the intersection of Bangor County of Nagqu Prefecture and Dangxiong County in Lhasa. It greets Nyainqêntanglha (also known as Nyenchen Tanglha) in the south, embraces the hilly areas in the West and Northwest areas and echoes the downtown of Lhasa nearly 200km away. Stretching over 70km horizontally and 30km vertically, the 4718m high Namtso Lake covers an area of over 1920 km2. It is named as "Namtso" by the Tibetans and "Tenggeli Sea" by the Inner Mongolians with the same meaning: “Heavenly Lake”.

As the largest inflow salt lake in Tibet Autonomous Region and the second largest salt lake in China (just after Qinghai Lake), it was formed under the joint influence of Himalayan tectonic plate movements and glacier erosion two million years ago. At that time, the weather was warm and moist, and Namtso Lake was bigger. It looked more like a sea than a lake. This high altitude salt lake still preserves the glacier traces and keeps shrinking due to the dry weather and the rising tectonic plate. Among the several lake coastlines remain today, the highest one is 80m. Exuberant vegetation thrives near the vast lake bank, which is frequented by various livestocks and rare animals include wild bulls, goats, black bear, wild Tibetan Yak, wild donkey, blue sheep, fox, moschus moschiferus and marmot. Its salty water nourishes a profusion of fishes such as Qinling leno and a kind of fish without scale. The scenery composed of crystal lake and snow mountains is quite spectacular. During early Summer, large groups of wild ducks will fly here. Rare herbs such as Cordyceps sinensis, Bulbus fritillariae pallidiflorae and Saussurea involucrata also take root here. The melted glacier from Nyainqêntanglha is this lake’s main source. A chain of Steams, big and small, instill it with crystal water all year around which contains 1.7g salt per liter eater.

Thin in oxygen and rich in cultural relics as well as boundless natural beauty, Namtso Lake is a place where you can experience hell and heaven meanwhile.


namtso lake

 Namtso Lake nestles along the sacred snow mountain Nyainqêntanglha in the south

Religion Significance of Namtso Lake

This holy lake draws groups of Buddhists like a magnet. The Tibetans believe that Namtso Lake is the wife of Nyainqêntanglha and the daughter of the God Dishitian. She has dark blue skin and three eyes, who rides a dragon and is the protection god of the Bon religion and Buddhism. During the end of 12th century, the Tibetan Branch Buddhism establishers chanted Buddhism scriptures here and set up the practice of touring around Namtso Lake during the Goat Year. According to their doctrines: “ The pilgrims should tour around the holy lake during the Goat Year, the holy mountains during the Horse Year and the forest during the Monkey Year. Namtsco Lake is the holy lake which will clear your body and soul. Thus, if you tour around it, you will be blessed with knowledge, virtues and luck.”

Believing that they will receive blessings one hundred thousand times compared to normal years during the Goat Year when all the Buddha and Bodhisattva will gather here, pilgrims from Tibet, Qinghai , Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan will cover long distance to reach here and chant the Buddhism scriptures. The long distance and physical suffering accentuate their piety. This event will reach the peak in April 15. Mani stones pile up here, thanks to the pilgrims who will throw a stone here each time they pass it. In a place with altitude of over 5000m, far from the pollution of modern civilization, in a place where nature represents itself in the most primitive way, in a place the air breathes religion and faith, Namtso Lake is more a spiritual site than a hot tourist destination.


 Pilgrims' Holy Site: a place where you can feel the power of faith

Highlights of Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake resembles the Godness Tara who nestles at the foot of the snow mountain. Eighteen islands claim the territory of its north part and four temples guide her from four directions, each with different associations. Every visitor who beholds this lake will be shocked by its enchanting blue color and purity: light blue, gray blue, greenish blue and dark blue, Namtso Lake is a blue paradise embraces all the blue colors in the world. In the distance, the silhouettes of the snow-capped mountains are outlined by the blue sky, and the meadow near the rive bank stretches as far as you can see . Sunrise, sunset and starry sky in Namtso Lake are natural wonders you should not miss. In the morning, the sun will dispel the mist and the refreshing breeze will stir ripples, waking up her from the sweet dream. Bathed in the sunshine, the stately Nyainqêntanglha looks like a soldier who holds this tender lake with big arms. The constantly changing weather here adds much beauty to it. Since each May, the ice will begin to melt, accompanied by thundering noises which can reach several miles away.


namtso lake blue water

 Namtso Lake's ever changing blue water casts a spell to every beholder

Liangduo Island and Zhaxi Peninsula: Five islands emerge among this lake, with the 1.2km2 Liangduo Island as the largest. Besides, five peninsulas extend to this lake from different directions, with the picturesque Zhaxi Peninsula as the most notable one. Stones in this peninsula adopt various shapes include elephant nose, human being and trees. It is a forest of stone peaks and columns which are connected by natural stone bridges. Among the labyrinth of stones scatter many caves, some are long like a tunnel, some are filled with stalactites and some features natural windows. It takes two hours to tour around this lake clockwise, and you can see the over 100 meters long Mani stone wall here.

Namtso Lake Grassland: the expansive Namtso Grassland is another feature of this lake. You will be overwhelmed by its vastness and solitude, forgetting time, space and yourself. Deserted it is, this grassland is by no means lifeless. Groundhog will run swiftly under you nose, the yellow goat will greets you in the distance and the wild rabbit will look at you curiously. When you indulge in the reverie deeply, one tent or a ray of cooking smoke will remind you that this place is still connected to the civilized world.

Guest-greeting Stone(also known as Couple Stone) is located in the holy Qiaduonanka Island which sits opposite of the Nyainqêntanglha and shelters many Buddha statues and caves. This stone is viewed as the door guard of Namtso Lake, a Goddess in charge of the treasures of Tibet Grassland. Thus, the local businessmen will come to ask for permission from the door guard before pay homage to the Namtso Lake.

Clapping Stone:This stone embodies the faithful and enduring love of Namtso Lake and Nyainqêntanglha

The Goodwill and Evil Cave: The Tibetan Branch Buddhism holds that the God knows everything about our deeds, good or evil. It is said people who have committed wrong deeds can not pass this cave.


zhaxi bylandzhaxi byland namtso

 Zhaxi Peninsula in winter

 Namtso Grassland

namtso pilgrimsnamtso mani stones

 Pilgrims pay homage to Namtso Lake

 Mani Stones

clapping stones namtsozhaxi byland namtso flower

 Clapping stone

 Wild flowers thrive in Zhaxi Peninsula

Travel Tips of Namtso Lake

Admission Fee: 125 RMB  Operation Hour: 6:00am to 18:00pm

Transportation: Namtso Lake is 260km from Lhasa and 60km from Dangxiong County. In 2006, the road between Lhasa-Dangxiong County-Namtso Lake was finished. The road condition is quite good. You can contact a reliable travel agent to lower the cost and to ensure a safe and rewarding journey. There is no direct bus or long-distance car from Dangxiong County to Namtso lake, thus depart from Lhasa is advised.

Living: There are no hotels at the bank of this lake. During the peak season, the local villagers will erect the tents for tourists, with price ranging from 25RMB to 100RMB per day. Due to the high altitude, if you are not used to the thin air condition, then do not stay here overnight

Eating: Keep a regular eating habit and do not eat too much; respect the local customs on cuisine; have some milk products, beef and mutton to enhance your adaptability to the high altitude; have some fruits and good rest. Do not run or exercise too much. If you tour this lake within one day, bring some food by yourself is advised.


 namtso lake dry meat namtso lake butter tea

 Tibet Dry Meat

 Tibet Butter Tea

 tibet barley wine tibet roasted beef

 Tibet Highland Barley Wine

 Tibet Roasted Beef

 tibet yogurt tibet dessert

 Tibet Yogurt

 Tibet Dessert

Best Trave Season: June to September is best travel period, which is also the rainy season here. But since October to November, this lake will be inaccessible due to the heavy snow which will block the road. If you insist on touring it during winter, please bring enough clothes, sun glasses to protect yourself from the chilly wind and the glare of sunshine and snows. Good news is that it will cost only 150RMB when share a car with others and the admission fee is 60RMB. Winter trip usually lasts one day. It is windy near the lake, if you show obvious symptoms of altitude sickness, please do not risk into this lake during this period.

DOs and DON'Ts:Take photos with the Tibetan Yaks is not free. With an elevation of 4718 meters, Namtso Lake is over 1000m higher than Lhasa, thus the altitude sickness symptoms will be more serious here, and you had better stay for several days in Lhasa first; Zhaxi Peninsula is stony, do not walk too fast, or you will pant or tumble. It contains a hill, under the foot of this hill sits a temple, you can see the daily life of those monks here; Weather here is also unpredictable and hails will attack this lake even during summer. Night Temperature here is chilly, thus you had better wear the down clothes; You cannot be too careful to avoid catching a cold, for a small illness like this will threaten your life within one day. Thus, if you want to stay here overnight in the camps, do keep warm. It is advised to live within the tents of the local people;Be optimistic can help you to suite the high altitude environment.

Lake Touring Time: The coastline of Namtso Lake is around 280 km, and the traffic road around this lake is 320 km roughly. It will take 7 to 15 days to hike all by yourself and only 1 to 2 days by car with a guide. There is no supply during the lake tour trip, thus you need to prepare enough water, food and book the Tibetan yaks or horses in advance in Bangor County to carry the luggage.

Lake touring Route: The pilgrims usually tour this lake clockwise and embark on their journey from the Zhaxi Peninsula, the biggest island in this lake and a camping base. The first dozens of kilometers boast vast vision and you can see the livestocks roaming in the lake bank. Intoxicating the scenery it is, the road is not so pleasant due to the over 10 streams. After passing the streams, you will reach the Galamu Pass 35km from Zhaxi Peninsula. Besides the Buddhism banners and mani stone piles distributed there, there are two giant tents where you can have tea. In Bali village,65km from Zhaxi Peninsula, you can see the massive bull shit wall. Heading north along this lake, you will enter the Bangor County. After passing the Deqing County, you will reach the Duoqia Temple, the biggest temple in this lake. Inhabited by 15 monks, this temple shelters many caves. There is one mystery of this temple: during night, the voice of carving Mani stone will resonate along this lake. When one approaches it, the voice will cease. The moment one leaves, it will sound again. Heading forward 6 km, you will reach Buguzari. Caves here are decorated with various patterns such as animals, flowers and clouds. what is weired is that these patterns keep changing, sometimes, they are clear and easy to identify, sometimes, they become obscure, with reasons still unknown. During night, you can camp in Bularanka. Continue your journey, you will reach the Qiaduonanka Island. During night, you can camp in Angbakonglong Island. Yellow goats and stone goats are common seen here. After leaving Angbakonglong Island, you will arrive the Changcuiquan Bathing Gate, where you can camp. This sand lane is energy-consuming to hiking, however.


 zhaxi peninsula namtso

 the pilgrims usually tour Namtso Lake from Zhaxi Peninsula

Lake Touring Gears: tent(include accessories), sleeping bag, anti-moist pat, down jacket, hiking pants, waterproof jacket, cotton socks, camera, knives, interphone, flash light, batteries, bulbs, towels, skin care products, sun scream, lip balm, sun glasses, tooth brush, toothpaste, comb, umbrella, pajamas, scarf, hat, gloves, short pants, camp shoes, water proof shoes...

Medicine: take the Rhodiola medicine one week ahead before tour this lake; Aspirin can ease your headache in the high altitude; American Jinseng can enhance your immunity. Prepare some necessary medicines and vitamin pills.

First Aid Fits: bandage,plasters, moleskin for blisters, antiseptic ointment for cuts, anti-bacterial throat lozenges (with antiseptic), aspirin, oral rehydration salts, broad-spectrum antibiotic, anti-diarrhea medication, diarrhea stopper antibiotic for Guardia or similar microbe or bacteria, diamox 250/500mg (for altitude sickness), sterile syringe set (anti-AIDS precaution) and Gel hand cleaner. All of them should be labelled.


>>>> Gallery of  Namtso Lake

>>>> See the Tibet Tours Special Coverage

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