Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake              Bookmark and Share

Namtso or Lake Nam ("Heavenly Lake") is a mountain lake at the border between Damxung County of Lhasa Prefecture and Baingoin County of Nagqu Prefecture in the Tibet Autonomous Region of China, approximately 112 kilometres (70 mi) NNW of Lhasa.

Geography and Climate of Namtso Lake

The lake lies at an elevation of 4,718 m, and has a surface area of 1,920 square kilometres. This salt lake is the largest lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region. However, it is not the largest lake in Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. That title belongs to Qinghai Lake (more than twice the size of Namtso); which lies over 1,000 km [650 miles] to the north-east in China's Qinghai province.

Namtso has five uninhabited islands of reasonable size, in addition to one or two rocky outcrops. The islands have been used for spiritual retreat by pilgrims who walk over the lake's frozen surface at the end of winter, carrying their food with them. They spend the summer there, unable to return to shore again until the water freezes the following winter. This practice is no longer permitted under the Communist Chinese regime in Tibet.

The largest of the islands is in the north-west corner of the lake, and is about 2,100 m long and 800 m wide, rising to just over 100 m in the middle. At its closest point it is about 3.1 km from the shore.

Namtso Lake

Tibetan Houses Near The Namtso Lake

The most remote island is, at its closest, 5.1 km from the shore.

The weather at Namtso is subject to abrupt sudden change and snowstorms are very common across the Nyainqentanglha range.

Features of Namtso Lake

Namtso is renowned as one of the most beautiful places in the Nyainqentanglha mountain range. Its cave hermitages have for centuries been the destination of Tibetan pilgrims. A surfaced road across Largen La at 5186 m was completed to the lake in 2005, enabling easy access from Lhasa and the development of tourism at the lake.

Settlements in the area include Dobjoi, Donggar and Cha'gyungoinba.The Tashi Dor monastery is located at the southeastern corner of the lake.Some scenes in the 2002 Hong Kong film The Touch were filmed at the lake.

It is often incorrectly written that Namtso is the highest lake in Tibet (or even the world), or the highest salt lake in the world. There are actually many smaller lakes located at an altitude over 5,500m in the Himalaya and in the Andes, but for lakes with a surface area over 50 km2, the highest freshwater lake would be Sengli Lake at an altitude of 5,386 m and with a surface area of 78 km2, while the highest salty lake would be Meiriqie Lake at an altitude of 5,354m with a surface area of 64 km2 (both are located in Tibet). However, Namtso is the highest lake in the world with a surface area over 500 km2.