Namtso Lake-the highest lake in the world

Namtso Lake-the highest lake in the world 

Namtso Lake-the highest lake in the world

Namtso Lake-the highest lake in the world

Namtso Lake is the highest lake in the world sitting at 4,718 meters (almost 3 miles) above sea level. Some 60 kilometers (37 miles) to the northwest of Damxung County seat, it is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet and is adored by the local people. During the Tibetan year of sheep, pilgrims from far away come to walk around the lake, a mission that takes over ten days to complete.

Legend has it that Namtso Lake is the beautiful daughter of nearby Bam Lake. She was married to the Nyainqentanglha Mountains. As time went by, she could not stand the frigid weather and loneliness any longer and so, with a sad heart, threw all her jewels, ornaments, and necklaces into the lake. Thus, it is said that there are boundless treasures at the bottom of Namtso Lake.



It is the highest saltwater lake in the world. Snow-capped mountains and open grassland, dotted with yak herds and local nomads, surround the crystal clear water of Lake Nam, making it one of the most beautiful places in Tibet.

Location: Damshung County, Nagqu Prefecture; 220 kilometers (140 miles) north of Lhasa city, 4½ hours’ drive.
Altitude: 4,718 meters (15,479 feet), accessed by a 5,100m (16,700 ft) mountain pass
Type: Salt Lake
Area: 1,900 square kilometers (760 square miles)
Maximum depth:35 meters (115 feet)
Activities: viewing sunrises and sunsets, hiking, photography
Best times: June to September

Highlights of Namsto Lake

Excellent Scenery
In clear weather, the water is a stunning shade of turquoise and you will be surrounded by magnificent views of the nearby mountains. The wide open spaces, dotted with tents of local nomads, are breathtaking. You may also walk alongside the lake or climb up the hill nearby to explore the area.

Sunrises and Sunsets
The sunrises and sunsets of Namtso are breathtaking! The wide lake and the snow-capped Nyenchen Tanglha mountains catch the low angle rays of the sun beautifully.

In the quiet morning, beat the cold and get up early to the lakeside to appreciate the sunrise. You can see the ice blue water and gray mountains far behind the lake. As the sun rises, cloud lifts from the mountains and the scene is bathed in golden sunshine.

At dusk clouds are colored red and golden. You can sit beside the lake and see the sky change color.

Walk Around the Namtso Lake to Pray in the Year of the Sheep
Namtso has been a holy site for centuries. At the end of winter, devout Buddhists used to walk over the lake’s frozen surface, carrying their food with them. They would return when the water froze again the following winter. This practice is now not allowed by the Chinese government.

Worshipers believe that if one walks around the lake once during the year of the sheep (e.g. from Losar 2015), he and his family will be blessed with good health, safety, knowledge, and other virtues.

Hiking around Namtso Lake
Lake Namtso is very peaceful and scenic, and is a great place to wander around. Standing on the Tashi Peninsula, you may feel like you are standing in the center of the lake. You can spend a leisurely time there, listening to the wind and watching the sparkling ripples.

The water is crystal clear and, if you are lucky enough, you can see the fish in the water. You may also see goats and yaks on the grassland while you are hiking.

Best time to visit Namtso Lake
The road to Namtso is typically closed from December to March. April and November are still very cold, but dry, and sometimes the road is still closed due to bad weather. October often brings heavy snowstorms and treacherous road conditions. So the best time to travel to Lake Nam is from June to September, with warmer weather and higher oxygen content.

Traveling to Namtso
A day trip is often recommended as the weather at night can be harsh and cold. It is cold there, even in summertime, so take a thick coat to keep warm, and hot drinks in vacuum flasks.

There is no hotel accommodation at Namtso, but there is a campsite with limited electricity and running water. You can find hotel accommodation in the town of Damxung, 2 hours away on the Lhasa road.

The low oxygen content can easily cause altitude sickness, especially in the morning, so do not do any strenuous activities.


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