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Yamdroktso Lake

About Yamdroktso Lake

Yamdroktso Lake is located at the Nangartse County of Shannan Prefecture, some 110 km to the southwest of Lhasa. It is 1 of 3 Holy Lakes in Tibet (the other 2 are Namtso Lake and Lake Manasarovar). The lake is 130 km long from east to west and 70 km broad from north to south. The lake bank is 250 km long and its surface is 638 square km. Standing at an elevation of 4,441 meters above sea level, the lake’s average depth is 20 to 40 meters, with the deepest point at 60 meters. Is is the largest inland lake on the northern range of the Himalayas. Supplied with melted ice, the lake has a low level of salinity. In the Tibetan language, “Yamdroktso” is an ancient name meaning “upper pasture”, comparing the lake water to jadeite.    

From Khamba La, where prayer flags are buffeted by the winds, you get a magnificent view of Yamdroktso Lake, with the large snowcap on the horizon being Kula Kangri on the Bhutanese border. From this cantage point, you can see why the Tibetans consider Yamdroktso Lake to be a sacred lake.    

Yamdroktso Lake is the largest habit for migration birds in southern Tibet. When the birds come, the lake bank and the islands appear especially lively with numerous birds taking care of their offspring. The lake is famous for the fishes named Gymnocypris przewalskii. With a fish capacity of over 800 million kilograms, fish-farming is flourishing and the lake has become a “fish treasure of Tibet”.    

The bank of the lake is a beautiful pasture. At the west of the lake, a large peninsular extends eastward, providing ample space for a village. Among the dozen islands in the lake, the smallest one is just over 100 square meters. The air-dried bacon is a special food of the region.    

The Yamdroktso Hydropower Station built between the lake and the Yarlung Zangbo River takes up a world-leading place in terms of elevation and water drop. With a 6,000-meter long water pumping channel, the hydropower station commands a waterdrop of over 800 meters. The station is equipped with 4 water turbo generators and 90,000 kilowatts of capacity, boasting of many number-ones in China and the world.    

Devout Tibetan pilgrims circumambulate the lake in around 7 days. Most Western travelers are content with a glimpse of the lake from the Kamba La and views from the town of Nangartse, where you can stay the night.

Ideal photography time  

The prime time of shooting is before and after sunrise or sunset.

Restaurant and Accommodation

The options for both sides of highways. They are basically Sichuan eateries and the flavor and price are considerably same with that in Lhasa. It is always best to carry your own food.

Located at S307 provincial road along transit highway, the Sheep Lake Hotel in Langkazi County is the nearest hotel to Yamdroktso Lake. The standard room is CNY120 per room. Or you can choose to camp by the lakeshore.

Shooting Location

1. Khamba La pass observatory

This is the perfect shooting place of Yamdroktso Lake. You can not only take pictures of blue lake water in hierarchical transform, but also the winding road in the distance by taking the white Noijin Kangsang as foreground. At the turning of the pass is also a good photography place. Use wide-angle lens to photograph the wide scenery of Snow Mountain and lake.

2. The lakeside

There are many photography subjects along the lakeshore and road. You can make a stop in accordance with your schedule and personal preference. Use telephoto lens to take a close-up view with flocks of sheep and waterfowl.

Photography Plan

Yamdroktso is located in Langkazi County of Shannan prefecture. Many tourists will visit Yamdroktso Lake along the way to Shigatse, and won’t regard it as a special shoot destination.

Generally, travelers will choose to rent a car from Lhasa to Yamdroktso along the so-called old road in more than two hours. Then make a stop at an appropriate place by the side of the road to start to take pictures. After lunch at Langkazi County, keep driving 70 kilometers towards Gyangz and you will see the famous Karuola Glacier at the junction of Langkazi and Gyangz. Appreciate the huge ice tongue and keep forwards to Gyangz to shoot Palcho Monastery, Zongshan castle and other scenic spots.

Stay overnight in Shigatse.

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