Nestled among the flanks of the dull mountains, a shining lake glows with various colors, like turquoise when the sun is shining. It is by the highway between Lhasa and Gyantse (and later Shigatse). So it is something you’ll see on our tours of these cities. There is a lot to do and see around the lake.
- Maximum length: 72 km (45 mi)
- Surface area: 638 km2 (246 sq mi)
- Surface elevation: 4,441 m (14,570 ft)
- Depth: 60 meters at the deepest point
- Distance from Lhasa: 170 kilometers southwest
- Features: the lake, the scenery, bird watching, Nangartse, Samding Monastery, hiking.
Nestled among the flanks of the dull mountains, a shining lake glows with various colors, like turquoise when the sun is shining. It is by the highway between Lhasa and Gyantse (and later Shigatse), 150 kilometers away from Lhasa (2 hours' drive). So it is something you’ll see on our tours of these cities. There is a lot to do and see around the lake.
The lake (Yamzhog Yumco in Tibetan, 羊卓雍错湖 Yangzhuoyong Cuo Hu in Chinese) has thin limbs like a dragon’s connected to the central body and a long “tail” stretching out to the north. So it is a large lake nestled in the high mountains. The elevation is so high (4,200 meters) that you might have difficulty breathing if you hike, but the grassy and rocky terrain, contrasting with the marshy shores, farms and the wildlife is pleasant in the summers.
Fisherman catch a lot of fish in the summers, and feasting on fresh fish is one of the things you can do there. Enjoy some time along its shores. The lake isn’t a major tourist site, so you can enjoy some time alone or with your special companions.
The lake is a special photographic highlight. However, it is so big and spread out with narrow arms that you’ll catch only a sliver of the total body. You can get photos of some of the local grazing livestock and the migrating birds and of some of the local people.
Birds crossing the “roof of the world” between India, China and Central Asia stop there in the summer. The lake is ice-free between the months of April and October. Some birds go after the fish.
Nangartse is a town about 10 kilometers to the west of the lake. It is a place to get a bed and eat. There are guesthouses and restaurants to eat at.
There is a small temple and a Tibetan quarter to see. You can use the town as a base as you hike around and explore the area. You can hike to Samding Monastery for example. Contact us to arrange for a guided pony or horse tour.
Samding Monastery on the shore of Yamdrok Lake is where the third highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism is said to have been reincarnated for hundreds of years. The current head isn’t accepted as such by many Tibetans. She is a woman and monks live in residence there.
Hiking to Nangartse takes about 2 hours. Realize that is is a very high altitude and you might suffer altitude sickness unless you are used to high altitudes. You can see the majestic scenery on foot and go off where you like.
If you hike around the lake, you might see prostrating Tibetans and some who prostrate themselves every three steps.
We can help tailor a tour for you or your group, or you can go on one of our pre-packaged tours that include this special lake:
Best months: summer.
Health recommendation: be careful about exerting yourself and staying overnight in the area. Even healthy people can get altitude sickness as low as 8,000 feet.
Karola Glacier: There is a small glacier to see near the highway between Yamdrok Lake and Shigatse.
I updated this article on February 17, 2013
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