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Namtso Lake

Namtso Lake in Tibet is not on everybody's travel schedule. That's not surprising as it is in a quite remote area of Tibet and it's not easy to go there too.

Namtso lake, Tibet, the highest salt water lake in the world

Namtso lake, Tibet, the highest salt water lake in the world
(the highest lake in the word is the Sengli Lake in West Tibet at 5386 Meter)

Namtso Lake is the highest (not the largest) salt lake in the world at an elevation of 4718 meter.

There are several reasons to visit the lake but it's not easy to go there. When I visited the surfaced road was not even started, which made the journey only possible by jeep.

Even on bicycle it would have been a hard journey, especially as you have to the same way back.

That, plus the fact you have to cross the Largen La pass at 5186 meter, made the journey very difficult. Nowadays, there are tours from Lhasa by bus that make the journey considerable easier.

But the reward is total magic. There are several places to visit. First, of course there is the lake itself. At the south eastern corner, there are some caves and a monastery: Tashi Dor, which is worth a visit too.

The road to Namtso Lake in 1999
The road to after the Largen La Pass to Namtso Lake in 1999

I choose to join a small tour of 5 people for 3 days/2 nights to visit the lake and the Drigung Monastery. The idea was to stay there a night, then the second day to drive to Drigung monastery, stay there and drive the third day back. It was a good deal.

A short stop at the Largen La pass at 5186 meter
A short stop at the Largen La pass at 5186 meter

It was certainly not an easy ride. We arrived in the afternoon at Namtso Lake. As it was still early spring, some parts at the north side was still frozen but where we would stay for the night was already open.

Not all the ice had been melted at Namtso lake
Not all the ice had been melted

Tashi Dor is located at the south east corner of the lake. Here you find Tibetan nomadic settlements for periods of the year. When I visited it was still very early spring and some of the lake was still covered in ice. Tashi Dor is a small settlement

Tashi Dor, the rock caves
The rock caves Tashi Dor

You can stay at the monastery but don't expect luxury. However, it's dry and warm.

Basic accommodation is available at the lake side, which at the time where no more then small single storey brick buildings with a bed.

Nomad near Namtso Lake
A lone nomad came along to check us out

It's a barren land and it's hard to imagine people actually can and want to live here. The nomads live in tents, herding their yaks which give them all the need to survive.

yaks grazing at the lands near Namtso lake

The yaks give the nomads food, wool and tools. In a land where agriculture is very difficult and the summer season short, and the water supply very limited, the yaks are the Tibetan nomads rescue for surviving. It's not surprising they take very good care of them.

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The heart of every Tibetan lies in Lhasa, in the Potala and even more in the Jokhang temple. Lhasa was one of the dreams I fulfilled and I can easily go back and I can easily go back and enjoy it again.

Lhasa Potala Palace


Drikung Monastery

Another little visited gem in Tibet. This monastery in the Drikung valley is active and beautiful

Drikung Monastery