Namtso Lake, one of the top three holy lakes in Tibet, is an ideal place to take a spiritual journey.
General Info of Namtso Lake
Namtso Lake located in the northwest of Lhasa, which is the highest saltwater lake in the world with an altitude of 4,718 meters above sea level. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and thousands of acres of open grasslands, Namtso Lake is a favored pasture for local nomads and the desired travel destination for tourists.
Take a Spiritual Trip to Namtso Lake
Namtso means “heavenly lake” in the Tibetan language, which is the closest lake in the world to heaven. Among the three holy lakes, Namtso is a popular place for pilgrims. Surrounded by many sacred mountains, Namtso Lake is sure to be sacred as well by Tibetans. There are five uninhabited islands in the lake, as well as a few rocky outcrops which have long been used as spiritual retreats for pilgrims. Every year, many devout Buddhists travel to these sacred lakes to walk around the lake’s perimeter that known as a holy kora. Pilgrims will spend a few days on the island with enough food in summer and walk across the lake’s surface in winter when it is frozen.
Look for the Ruddy Shelduck in Namtso
The largest island, sitting in the northwest corner of the lake, is home to many kinds of migrating birds. The birds travel there twice a year, such as the Ruddy Shelduck and several species of cormorants. The island is over two kilometers long, only three kilometers from the shore.
Visiting the Tashi Dor Peninsula
There are also five peninsulas that just out into the lake from the shore. With Tashi Monastery, several karst caves on the land, the Tashi Dor Peninsula seems to be the largest peninsula in the lake. The karst caves are different in shape such as long, narrow, vast, and domed. The stone forest in the peninsula is a masterpiece of nature, comprising of dozens of natural stone peaks. Some of those peaks resemble tree trunks, and some even look a little human in shape. These stunning shapes can spark the imagination. With the caves, the stone forest, the natural stone bridges, and ladders, Tashi Dor Peninsula fills with mystery and enchantment.
Best Time to Travel to Namtso Lake
Summer is the best season to visit Namtso when the grasslands are at their greenest and growth stages. And alongside the lake, wild animals such as black bears, yaks, wild donkeys, and marmots can often be found leisurely grazing. While the best photography time is before and after sunrise or sunset within half an hour. At dawn, you may able to see the golden snow mountains of Nyainqentanglha, and at sunset, you may see the north lakeshore of Tashi peninsula
How to get to Namtso Lake
Over 240 km from Lhasa, there is no direct bus to get to Namtso Lake. Hiring a car seems an excellent and convenient way to get to the lake. However, the road to Namtso is not very good. Therefore you need a 4WD. Meanwhile, due to the expensive cost of hiring a car, you'd better hire the vehicle together with other travelers.
Recommended Tour Itineraries Including Namtso Lake
This journey starts from exploring Lhasa city, then drive to Namtso for a ‘Heavenly Lake’ experience. On the way, you will enjoy the vast grassland and charming natural scenery. The last station is to head to Tsedang for discovering the "cradle of Tibetan civilization" and Samye Monastery, the first monastery in Tibet.
As one of the grandest festivals in north Tibet, the Nagchu Horse Racing Festival is a period when the roof of the world comes into a golden season for travel. The tour will take you into the vast and beautiful grassland and show you the vigorous life of Tibetans as well as the beauty of Lhasa and Lake Namtso.