Namtso Lake

Woman overlooking Namtso.

Located in Central Tibet, on the south side of Namtso Lake (གནམ་མཚོ།), travellers will find a lakeside tourist town selling souvenirs, hot sweet milk tea, selfies with yaks, and very basic accommodations. The route from the 109 highway will lead travellers straight to this town located at the base of the Tashi Dor peninsula. Peak season at Namtso Lake exhibits a carnival atmosphere that is both fun and overwhelming. The fun is found in meeting travellers from all over the world in a remote wonderland of beauty. The over the top side of things is a result of too-eager locals seeking to capitalize on the commercialism in the area. Be aware of people offering pictures with their animals, for which they subsequently request payment beyond what you were expecting. Nonetheless, the hotels have pretty fast internet, and the milk tea hits the spot. The Tashi Dor Monastery with the accompanying hermit caves are located just beyond town on the peninsula.

Namtso Lake with a mountain backdrop.

Visitors on the shore of Namtso Lake.

If you are up for a hike, the 40-minute climb to the top of the Tashi Hill is your best option. There is usually a stream of people heading in the same direction, which makes the trail easy to find. But really, it’s hard to get lost. It’s a narrow peninsula, so just head toward the lake up the hill. You may need to stop a few times on the way up, because, you are approaching 16,000 feet in elevation (4,800 meters). Half-way up, there is a nice view of the lake and fairly decent view of the sun’s descent. Most tourists stop here then turn around. Keep going to the end. It’s very worthwhile. After another 20 minutes of climbing, an almost 360 degree body of water comes into view. The silver, shimmering surface reflects the deep blue sky and the bright colors of the sunset. The colors in the sky change so quickly, that after your 400th shot of the same horizon, your finger begins to tire and your ISO can’t go any higher.

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