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Erdao Lake, in Huanglong, Jiuzhaigou County, Sichuan Province, lies in the mountainous southwest area of China. It was declared a scenic spot of China, by the government, in 1982. Why go all the way to southwest China to see a lake? It is like no other lake in the world.
The sheer, unspoiled beauty of this scenic lake and surrounding primeval forest is a unique and rare wonder that should not be missed. Unique geological formations like underground caves, with stalactites, and limestone calcifications in shallow pools make this area different from any other. The clear, turquoise-tinted water of the lake is captivating, yet all natural. Primitive sounds from birds and water creatures remind visitors of prehistoric, undiscovered lands.
Anyone interested in nature, ecology or magnificent vistas would love Erdao Lake. Photographers, from kids to professionals, will love the endless possibilities of memorable shots all around the area. In fact, existing photos look like pictures of imaginary realms created by a wizard. It is a magical feeling to see the calm surface of the lake in its quiet setting.
The Tibetans that live in this area consider the lake a sacred place for its healing waters. It is helpful for some skin ailments. The waters are rich in minerals, and lake bed deposits look like jadeite and agate. The area has been described as a "fairy land" by many because of its glistening, pure water and its colorful meadow flora nearby. Snow-capped mountains provide a stunning backdrop for the entire scene.
There are crevasses, also marked by railings, all around the lake as well. Small children and older adults may not want to make the trek around the lake. The altitude may be a concern for anyone with respiratory issues. The lake itself is about three miles long. If the tour encompasses the lake and the falls, there will be a lot of walking. The surface of the lake is calm, but there is a fast undercurrent below the surface.
Every season has spectacular scenery at Erdao Lake, but most agree that late spring and autumn are the best times to visit. The wild flowers in spring are quite a sight, and the autumn colors are unparalleled. The lake water looks different in each season because of the changing colors of the flora around it. There is much greenery in summer and everything is snow-covered and white in winter.
The high altitude keeps air and water temperatures rather cool, with the average temperature being about 44 degrees Fahrenheit. The entrance to this scenic area is over 9,000 feet above sea level, and it goes up from there. The area is so vast, it has plenty of room for a large lake with underground limestone caves. The caves connect Erdao Lake to other lakes around it.
Erdao means "two eyes" and is so named because it is linked to another lake and looks like two eyes from up above. This is yet another interesting facet of the lake. The whole Jiuzhaigou Valley was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Sight in 1992. It became a World Biosphere Reserve in 1997. Erdao Lake and Zhaga Falls are clearly outstanding, pristine, natural treasures that should be protected.
Erdao Lake and Zhaga Falls are in the Muni Gorge, one of the branches of the y-shaped valleys in this section of mountains. The falls are just over 100 feet tall, and about 40 feet wide.
The water rushes over travertine terraces and into a jade-colored pool below, as if landscaped. It is a natural limestone formation, and the colors of each element could not be created by man to be anywhere near the incredible hues that they reflect.
The lake is about 276 miles northeast of Chengdu, the capital of the Sichuan province, so traveling to Erdao Lake will be in cars or bus and minivan tours. There is a small airport in Jiuzhaigou, which is about a 45 minute flight from Chengdu. Visitors will need to be able to walk a fair distance to see the lake and the cave under the Zhaga waterfall.