The morning following our visit to Kumbum Monastery, saw us on the road to Qinghai Lake. The bus journey took around 3 hours one way and led us on top of the Tibetan Plateau. With a surface area of more than 4,000 km², Qinghai Lake (alternatively called Kokonor) is China’s largest lake! While early explorers suffered long days on horseback to reach it, the area has become a busy tourist attraction in recent years. We knew that the public bus would drop us at the hectic sightseeing village of Erlangjian Scenic Area, but unfortunately this spot is the only place accessible during a day trip! The village consists of a number of small restaurants, souvenir shops, a quay with ferries, and a quirky museum on the nature and culture around the lake. While the hustle and bustle of the tourists at the shore was not our cup of tea, we used the trip to get accustomed to the high altitudes of Tibet. The lake is situated at about 3,200 m above sea level which caused me a splitting headache. Despite its strong salinity, the water harbours an abundant fauna including the endemic Qinghai Lake Naked Carp. Furthermore, the area is an important breeding and resting site for birds. However, we only saw few cormorants and the characteristic Brown-headed Gull.
We returned to Xining in the evening and I went to bed early to get rid of my pounding headache. I really hoped to be fit on the next day, when we wanted to take the bus from Xining to Yushu, passing through areas with altitudes above 4,800 m! You can read about this epic journey here!
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Looks amazing. It’s always hard to believe how much nature you can explore in China. Usually, travelers from Europe and America only visit the cities. A real mistake as I can see reading your posts!
you are definitely right! especially in its western part, China offers a lot of nature! Unfortunately (or fortunately?), these regions are often not very easy to reach for visitors… thanks for your comment!
That’s an interesting question indeed. Tourism is always bad for nature…
Always love your China photos. How interesting to see these immense statues!
thanks a lot!! 🙂
Hi Matthias – 3200m, that’s some serious height! Highest elevation I have been to is 2921m and I had to make some effort to reach Peak Carlit in Catalan Pyrenees area.
Beautiful views of China. Tibet is on my travel list too.
Hey Ruta! Thanks for your comment!! 🙂 You really have to get used to the height – we spent the following two weeks at altitudes of around 3000 m or more and although hiking is tiresome, I never had a headache again… The Tibetan region is definitely a great travel destination – unfortunately with a lot of political problems… do you have plans for an up-coming journey?
Yes, I have bunch of traveling plans, all of them lead to the other side of the world, though. To South America.
oh – that’s also a fantastic area!! I was once in Brazil, but the continent is so huge that it needs many months to explore… I hope you have a great time!!
Currently in China, and finding your posts very useful! I’m trying to escape the cities and get into nature, it looks beautiful 🙂
oh great!! Really good that the posts help! 🙂 I have been to China four times now, unfortunatey could not post on all of these trips yet… where are you exactly? what are your plans?
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Wow! That looks pretty magical! I love those fields of yellow flowers! So incredible!
thank you – although tourism is very hectic at some points around the lake, there are still many great places to be found!
Reminds me a little bit of Nam-tso at 4,718 m, the largest lake in the Tibet Autonomous Region (some photos on my Tibet blog post if you are interested).
Thank you! I will definitely check out your blog – especially, because I was at the nam-tso myself in 2007 (and I also have photos of it on this blog)! 😉
Will take a look at them too