World's Highest (Saltwater Lake

Trip Start Feb 24, 2006
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Trip End Dec 31, 2007


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Monday, July 9, 2007

The 2 highest lakes in the world both reside in China, one is a freshwater lake in NW China just south of western Mongolia and the other is a saltwater lake in Tibet called Nam-Tso Lake.  NTLake is at about 16,500 feet and is a 4 hour bus ride from Lhasa.  Due to the elevation and distance it is definitely best taken in with an overnight stay, which also allows you to see the sunset and sunrise.  However, not having the time needed for an overnight stay, I did it in a day and though it was tiring, it was well worth the trouble.  The lake is brilliant shades of turquoise and crystal blues surrounded by hills, rolling green hills that are similar to those in Scotland (as confirmed by a Belgian fellow traveler) and year-round snow-capped peaks of 20,000 feet.  It's quite reminiscent of Bear Lake in the Colorado Rockies, until you remember that it's so much higher!  Hanging out with a British doctor, Paul, we walked the lake area chatting and taking pics and altitude breaks.  The locals have taken advantage of all the tourists and setup tents to sleep in, tents to eat in and tents to pee in.  There are also plenty of yaks to take photos of and to sit on, as well as plenty of kids with baby goats hoping that they are cute enough to be photographed in irder to ask for a "donation".  The lake is beautiful and everything, but as there is no swimming or water sports, in the end, it's just a lake and there really isn't that much to report! 

The scenery to and from the lake was fantastic and the bus stopped several times (maybe too many) to take a break and check out the views.  The landscape is what I imagine to be very Montana-esque and it was interesting to see the many roadside goat and yak herders.  On the return trip, we stopped at Yachengpa hot springs, which many of the travelers were excited about (I was skeptical) the possibility of getting in a good soak and some relaxation.  The "hot spring" turned out to be a dark green swimming hole on a desert-like plateau that seemed to be heated from residual steam from a nearby factory...let's just say the Chinese and Tibetans have a LOT to learn about tourism in the future!  Everyone was disappointed, no one went in and we pretty much forced the bus driver to leave early!  We returned to Lhasa late and I grabbed a bite to eat for tomorrow is my last full day in Lhasa and I'll visit Jokhang Temple and do some souvenier shopping in the Barkkhor!
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