Yamdrok Tso (Tso meaning lake in Tibetan) is one of four holy lakes in Tibet. The lake was our first stop on our trip to Everest Base Camp, but it could easily be done as a day trip from Lhasa. It’s located 110km southwest from the capital city.
Devout Tibetan pilgrims circle the lake in a walk that takes approximately one week to complete. Though its a sacred lake to the Tibetan people it is seen as a natural resource to be commoditized by the Chinese government. A hydro-electric dam has been created and because the lake does not replace it’s water naturally predictions say it will be drained within the next two decades.
From the summit pass of Kamba-la the lake can be seen several hundred feet below the road. The deep turquoise water backdropped by rolling mountains is sight to behold. It’s easy to see why the Tibetan people consider it to be sacred.
The area is now being bombarded with Chinese tour buses, they are practically piled on top of one another at the pass. During our visit we witnessed a lot of litter on the ground. How people can treat a place of beauty with such disrespect is beyond our comprehension.
To escape the tour buses we climbed up to a higher elevation on one of the grassy hills. The thing we have discovered about the people on the tour buses is that they do not like to put a lot of energy into walking or especially hiking. Luckily this makes it fairly easy to get away from the chaos. As you get up higher the enormity of the lake becomes more obvious, it appears to go on forever. It’s 130 km long by 70 km’s long.
Making our way up the hill at this elevation was a lot of effort, our breathing was extremely laboured. The lake is at an elevation of 4488m and the summit pass where we were viewing it from was 4794m.