Qinghai Lake for the last several years has offered only very touristy sites that are full of Chinese tour buses. The lake itself is 120km long and offers a gorgeous view across huge spans of bright, turquoise waves. However, the area, as the number one tourist destination in Qinghai Province, has been notorious for traffic, crowds, overpriced hotels, and cheesy, gimmicky photo opportunities like taking a picture on a camel brought in from Mongolia. But we want to offer something totally different. We want to help you see the REAL nomadic life that existed long before the tourist traps.
As the largest saline lake in China, Qinghai Lake
, historically known as KokoNor, is situated in the northeast corner of Qinghai Province. The names “Qinghai” and “Kokonor” both reflect the vast beauty of the lake and both mean “Blue Sea” in Standard Mandarin and Mongolian respectively. Twenty-three rivers and streams empty into Qinghai Lake, most of them seasonal. Five permanent streams provide 80% of the total influx.
Situated in the Northeast of Qinghai Province and with an area of 4,489 sq.km (988 ac.), it is twice as large as the famous Tai Lake. It is a beautiful lake not only for its scenic spots, vast views, and beautiful islands and but also for the lively Tibetan culture surrounding the lake shore. Located in the northeast of 4,500-meter-high (14,764 ft.) Tibetan Plateau, Qinghai Lake can look like a bright reflective mirror calmly seated between the vast grasslands and surrounding snow mountains.
Qinghai Lake is an important place in history which has been the traditional meeting place between Mongolian and Tibetan cultures. Despite its salinity, Qinghai Lake has an abundance of fish but most of these species are illegal to catch and fish. Sadly, the lake is shrinking at a rate of 10 cm a year as there is no permanent outflow and the inflow has decreased with increased water usage. Most of the rivers and lak.
es that used to feed into the lake are drying up due to a combination of over grazing, farming downstream, water diversion for crop irrigation, and damming.
The lake has a number of attractions that draw travelers in this region in, but many of these spots, including Sand Island and Bird Island, have been closed as of Fall 2017 to help protect the sensitive environment of this fragile region.