Namtso Lake - Paradise for Pilgrims and Photographers
Namtso Lake, located in the northwest of Lhasa is the highest saltwater lake in the world with an altitude of 4718 meters. As the second largest saltwater lake in China (next to Qinghai Lake), it covers an area of 1,920 square kilometers, with 70 kilometers in length from east to west and 30 kilometers in width from south to north. In Tibetan, Namtso means Heavenly Lake, so it is also considered as one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, together with Yamdrok Lake and Lake Manasarovar. Consisting of over 1500 lakes and five big islands, which used to be the spiritual retreat, Namtso is the paradise of nature and a wonderful place for photo taking, especially in summer time. The Tashi Peninsula, the biggest island here stretches long and wreathed Namtso into its center, providing tourists a land for spiritual refreshment and hiking around.
Namtso Lake Facts
- June to September
- Holy Lake, Religious Site
- 4,718 meters
- Damxung County, Lhasa City
Namtso Lake Features
It’s quite common for tourists to be awestruck at the Namtso at the first sight. With the snowy mountains in the background and crystal-clear dazzling blue water, no wonder that Namtso Lake is called “Heavenly Lake”. With hundreds of colored prayer flags attached to the rugged spiked cliffs facing the lake, Namtso seems more than just a scenic spot. The sound of prayer wheel fluttering in the strong wind is a constant reminder of its holiness.
Namtso Lake Scenery
Namtso’s beauty begins from May when the frozen ice melts. The water presents a startling blue, integrated with the water-reflected clear sky and snow peaks surrounded in the distance. In summer time, there are yaks, cattle, sheep, birds and other animals dotting along the lakeside natural grassland. The multicolored flowers, the flying prayer flags, the solemn marnyi stones, all enhance the beauty of Namtso Lake and add a sense of vitality. No matter which direction you are standing beside Namtso, you will feel happy of heart and free of mind.
Namtso Lake Kora
As the holy and sacred lake in Tibet, Namtso is one of the important sites of pilgrimage. Pilgrims from the Tibetan Plateau keep coming here every year, especially in the Sheep Year of Tibetan Calendar, when thousands of pilgrims undergo the hardships to pay their homage to the holy lake, in April of Tibetan Lunar Calendar. There are different ways for Namtso Lake Kora, including car-driving (about 2 days), trekking with prayer wheel rolling or walking with prostrate kowtow, which will last 20-30 days to finish one round. There is another pilgrimage way - Trekking the Tashi peninsula, which only takes several hours to complete one round.
Known for its natural scenery, Namtso Lake is an ideal destination for photography and from May to September are the best months to take the extraordinary pictures. Among the different stunning views, the twinkling stars over the night sky and the stunning sunrise or sunset are the scenic splendors. Therefore, for photographers and amateurs, stay overnight to catch the beauty is worthwhile.
The Yingbin Stone, Gassho Stone and Good and Evil Hole are some great locations to shoot the lake scenery. And the Hilltop on Tashi Peninsula is a high point to shoot the beautiful sunrise and sunset of Namtso Lake and Nyenchen Tanglha Range. With an altitude of over 5000 meters, along the paved road up to the top is quite challenging. Besides the Namtso itself, the pilgrims, the colored prayer flags, marnyi stones, all add more cultural characteristics to the lake. with a gust of wind blowing, those flags dance with the wind, flying along the hillside, suddenly the whole lake seems to move up and down with a sense of dynamic beauty. You can also take a picture with a yak or a local person, which will cost you between about 20 RMB.
Learn more about Namtso Lake Photography>>
How to Get to Namtso Lake
Located in the junction of Lhasa and Nagqu, with a distance of over 170 km from Lhasa, the Namtso Lake is surrounded by the Nyenchen Tanglha ranges in the south and Transhimalaya in the north. The other sides are vast plateau hilly region, which makes it like a huge mirror lying in the grasslands of northern Tibet.
Transfer from Lhasa
There is no direct bus from Lhasa to Namtso and the most popular way to go is car rental, which will take about 4-5 hours. The paved road along the way is easy to drive, and you can enjoy the landscape and the Nyenchen Tanglha ranges scenery along the way to Damxung County (当雄县). From Damxung to Nsamtso, it is about 60 km. On the way, you will climb across the Nagenla Pass (about 5200 meters above the sea level), which is the landmark of Namtso Lake. Many tourists would like to take photos here to memorize the trip, as the Namtso Lake is just around the corner.
Learn more about How to Get to Namtso>>
Useful Travel Tips
● Best time to go: From May to September is a great time to visit Namtso Lake with different scenery, especially in the summer months. From January to April and November to December, Namtso will be covered with snow ice, which is dangerous for driving, thus is not recommended for visit. Learn more about Namtso Weather and Climate>>
● Ticket: 120 rmb per person for Peak Season (May to October); 60 rmb per person for Off Season (November to April).
● What to Wear: With a changeable weather and strong wind during the day and night, you’d better bring some warm clothes like down jacket. Even if you visit in summer, a coat is recommended. And remember to take sunscreen and sunglasses with you.
● Altitude Sickness: With a high altitude of about 5000 meters, prepare some medicine to avoid the altitude sickness. Meanwhile, do not run or move quickly, especially when you are taking photos at Tashi peninsula.
● Accommodation & Dinning: for tourists who want to stay overnight here, there are many guesthouses in the Tashi Dor but the accommodation service is quite basic. Each room has 4 or more single beds without independent bathroom. Hot water and electricity are offered. Also there are camps provided. As for the dinning, the food is quite pricey as for the high costs of transportation. Therefore, you are recommended to prepare enough snacks, some high-calorie food and water.
● Hot Spring: If you want to experience the hot spring in Tibetan plateau, the Yangpachen Hot Spring nearby the Namtso is a great choice when you drive back to Lhasa.
★ Recommended Tour: 6 Days Holy Lake Namtso In-depth Private Tour with Yangpachen>>
How to Plan A Tibet Tour
Tibet is too vast to be visited in one single trip, but planning ahead of time can make most of your holiday. A classic Tibet tour always takes about 4 ~ 8 days. Apart from 2 days for arrival and departure, it usually needs 2 other days to explore majestic Potala Palace and other landmarks in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. With a day trip’s distance from Lhasa, Namtso Lake is another perfect tour extension if you visit Tibet from May to October.
To explore further, it’s strongly recommended to travel from Lhasa to Mount Everest via Gyantse and Shigatse, which usually needs 4 more days. It is an unforgettable sightseeing trip with lots of attractions to visit, such as Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier, Kumbum Stupa of Palcho Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, etc. Of course, the biggest draw must be gazing upon the unparalleled north face of the world’s highest peak – Mount Everest.
For Buddhist followers and hiking lovers, you are suggested to travel to Ngari to join the kora around the holy Mt. Kailash and sacred Lake Manasarovar, which usually takes about 5 ~ 8 more days from Lhasa. The wild nature of Ngari is spectacular as well.
If you are looking for a longer Himalaya adventure, you can travel Tibet with two other charming Himalayan Kingdoms – Nepal and Bhutan by overland driving or flight. If you have your own needs or interest, just feel free to contact us to customize a trip of your own!
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Escorted by a skilled private drivers and accompanied by a professional local tour guide to organize all the activities, all you have to do is to enjoy your fantastic Tibet journey. Time can never be wasted waiting for a group, hopping on and off buses or negotiating unfamiliar destinations.
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