Yilhun Lha-tso

Lake in Manigange

It is said King Gesar's beloved concubine Zhumu was so taken by these stunning turquoise-blue waters that her heart fell in. This now-holy glacial lake, 8km southwest of Mǎnígāngē, is still awe inspiring. Follow a small dirt track around the north edge of the lake to a marshy plain at the far end, from which you can take in the spectacular views of peaks and glaciers from right up close. Locally, this area is also known as 新路海 (Xīnlù Hǎi).

The water is frigid and the surface freezes solid from September through March. Take it in by hiking among the chörten and mani stones, beneath snowcapped Chola Mountain to the west, whose melt-waters feed the lake. You can walk for a couple of hours up the foothills on the left side of the lake for more breathtaking views and possible glimpses of white-lipped deer (白唇鹿; báichúnlù).

You can also ride horses led by guides (from ¥100). Camping is frowned upon – though some self-sufficient travellers have slept in the caves without trouble. In summer you may also run into local monks setting up colourful tents.

To get here, take a Dégé-bound minibus (¥20 to ¥40), hitch a ride or hike (turn right out of Mǎnígāngē Pání Hotel and keep going for two hours). The lake is a 10-minute walk from the main road, along an easy track. Minivans (¥20) wait to take you back to Mǎnígāngē.

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