The waters of sacred Nam-tso, the second-largest salt lake in China, are an almost transcendent turquoise blue and shimmer in the rarefied air of 4730m. Most people come here for the scenery and for the short but pilgrim-packed kora (pilgrim circuit). Geographically part of the Changtang Plateau, the lake has an incredible location, bordered to the north by the Tángǔlā Shān range. The Nyenchen Tanglha (Tangula) range, with peaks of over 7000m, towers over the lake to the south.
It was these mountains – capped by the 7111m Nyenchen Tanglha peak – that Heinrich Harrer and Peter Aufschnaiter crossed on their incredible journey to Lhasa (their expedition is documented in the book Seven Years in Tibet). The scenery is breathtaking, but so is the altitude: 1100m higher than Lhasa. Count on a week in Lhasa acclimitising before rushing out here, otherwise you risk symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS).
Nam-tso is 240km north of Lhasa, a four-hour paved drive over the high (5186m) Largen-la.