asia · China (PRC) · Tibet · Travel

The Roof of the World (Part 3: Namtso Lake, Tibet)

It’s been a while since I have made a blog post due to how busy Becky and I have both been with work and planning for our next trip – so welcome to any recent followers or if you have just stumbled upon this post, and of course hi again and thank you to all of my current followers, I hope you’re still enjoying these posts.  This segment is titled ‘The Roof of the World’ and it is about my week long stay in Tibet; you can find the previous two parts here: Part 1 and Part 2.


On day five in Tibet, we departed Lhasa early in the morning on a small minibus en route to Namtso Lake.  At around 70 miles NNW of Lhasa, the journey took us higher into the mountains and I really felt the effects of the altitude throughout the two hour journey.  The highest part of the journey took us to 5,186 metres, this point on the road is called the Na Genla Pass, it was the highest point I have ever been to and without even walking I felt so sleepy and light headed.  When we reached the pass, we had a moment to step out and look out over the lake below with the prayer flags flapping around in the wind – I have to admit it was quite majestic despite the feeling that I could have curled up on the tarmac and had a sleep right there.



After the pass, the journey to the lake took around thirty minutes.  When the bus pulled up we were all feeling the altitude, but I mustered up all of my remaining energy, grabbed my camera and made my way down to the lakeside – my head was pounding at this point, I was still feeling sleepy and the experience was like a daydream.  I’d like to point out that this feeling wasn’t due to poor fitness, around the time I was here I was running a 5k once a week, which is by no means super fit but I would like to think I had a decent level of stamina.


Namtso translates into heavenly lake and heavenly it most certainly is.  With crystal clear waters spanning for as far as the eye can seen, snow capped peaks in the distance and the clearest yet thinnest air I have ever seen in my life, it is easy to see why this lake is sacred to the Tibetans.



There are many lakes around Tibet, and all of them I am sure are magnificent, but Namtso is probably the closest in proximity to Lhasa making it relatively easy to access.  Bear in mind that Lhasa sits at around 4,000 metres which is more than enough to trigger the symptoms of altitude sickness, Namtso is still around a thousand metres higher than Lhasa, so altitude sickness can become quite severe depending on the individual.  My advice would be to acclimatise yourself in Lhasa for a few days, take it easy, and on the day of the trip make sure you have something with plenty of sugar to snack on, keep yourself well hydrated, make sure you’re well rested and lay off the alcohol – this should keep the symptoms to a minimum providing you don’t exert yourself by running, climbing, heavy lifting etc as you will quickly realise just how little oxygen is in the air at this kind of altitude.




On a slightly unrelated note, these just came in the post.  Two year multiple entry Chinese visas for our next trip which starts in January 😀


Until next time





2 thoughts on “The Roof of the World (Part 3: Namtso Lake, Tibet)

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