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Lake Palgon

Neither as large as Lake Namsto nor as revered as Lake Manasarovar, Lake Palgon's beauty is independent of religious worship or spiritual inspiration. It is simply and naturally enchanting, what Tibetans call, an elegant blue swan.

Located in the north of Rutog County, Ngari, Lake Palgon is on the border of China and Indian-administrated Kashmir, with 2/3 in China. It is the longest lake in China, about 159 km (99 miles) long from east to west, being 15km (9 miles) at the widest and only 40m (0.02 miles) at the narrowest. The lake is amazingly different in the two countries. In china the lake water is fresh with abundant fish and birds whilst the shore is relatively barren. Exactly the opposite is true in Kashmir: the lakeside is covered with fertile grasslands whilst the lake water is too salty and smelly to bear lives. It is no wonder Indians call it 'Palgon' (meadow) whereas Tibetans consider it a long-necked swan.

In China the 'Swan' lake, with abundant fish and waterweeds, attracts throngs of birds every spring to nest. Among the many islands scattered over the lake, the most famous is Bird Island. 300m (328 yards) long and 200m (219 yards) wide, it is situated in the middle of the lake and famed as the 'kingdom of birds'. Thousands of birds, over 10 bird species such as black-necked cranes, cygnets and spot-headed wild geese, etc. nest here. May to September is the best season to view these lovely creatures.

  How to get to Lake Palgon:
About 4 hours by car along the Xinzang (Xinjiang-Tibet) Highway from the town of Shiquanhe, the Administrative Office seat of Ngari Prefecture. The better way is to rent a 4WD or jeep, usually for CNY 800-1,000.

  How to get to Bird Island:
By yacht, CNY 20 per person.

  Dining and Lodging:
Eating at the lakeside restaurant is recommended. Modest lodging also is available there for CNY 20 per person, enabling visitors access to the breathtaking lake-view sunsets and sunrises. Alternatively, you can find lodging in Rutog County.

Birdlife is protected on Bird Island; never harm or disturb any of the birdlife. Taking bird eggs away from Bird Island is forbidden.

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