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Lugu Lake

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Dec 17, 2021

Lugu Lake (泸沽湖 Lúgū Hú) is on the Yunnan/Sichuan border in China. It is pronounced loo goo hoo in Chinese.

. . . Lugu Lake . . .

Lugu Lake in the morning

A nice lake between Yunnan and Sichuan to relax one or two days. The area is protected from extensive development.

It is 2690 m above sea level at the borders between Sichuan and Yunnan Provinces. It covers an area of 50 km² with the average water depth of 45 m and the transparency 11 m. In the lake there are five islands, three peninsulas and a sea-wall islet. Here everything looks as if it has not been disturbed by human beings at all and still remains in its primitive state. Boating in the lake, you can feel that the surface of the water is as smooth as a mirror and the water as blue as the sky. The slow – canoe in the blue lake, the beautiful Mosuo girls in their ethnic clothes and the Mosuo folk songs will show you something of primitive simplicity and peace. Lugu Lake has the fame of a fabled abode of immortals and “Plateau Pearl” for its pure and virgin land of natural landscapes.

The Mosuo people living here keep their matriarchal society system. The “Axia visiting marriage” system (actually no marriage system at all) is called the fossil for the study of the development of the human being society. The members of the big matriarchal families live in harmony, love dearly and care for one another. The Axia couples live in their own mothers’ houses without a real family life are less burdened economically. They free themselves from such worries as daily housework, quarrels and the obligation of a husband-and-wife relationship. Here, a colorful ethnic custom painting, is an ideal place for travelling, holidays, recuperation and scientific research. Welcome to the beautiful, mysterious and romantic “Oriental Women-governed kingdom.”

Mini vans or fleet buses from Lijiang, Yunnan or Xichang, south Sichuan. The road from Lijiang was, apart from some very short pieces, completely paved at the end of 2017, which has reduced travel time by minibus from Lijiang to some 4-5 hours, where it used to be a grueling 8 hour trip over mostly unpaved mountain road. After the 4-5 hour trip, you will be surrounded by mountains and water.

¥100 per head when entering the lake area. Students pay half price (most likely any English photo-ID will work).

There is only one bank/ATM around the lake and it’s a small rural bank, so your MasterCard/Visa international ATM card won’t work. Will only work with Chinese Unionpay cards. If you don’t have money in a Chinese bank account, then make sure you bring enough cash to cover the number of days you are going to stay here.

You can start out by walking around, but you won’t get very far before you get tired. You can rent bicycles to go around the lake, it would take you 8 hours. You can rent electric and motor scooters to loop around the lake in about 3 hours.

  • Photo with the resident eagle (near the canoes). They have a captive eagle and you can have photos with it for a fee. Once you’ve agreed to the fee, the handler blows a whistle that lets the bird know he needs to stand on your arm and spread his wings for a photo op with the mountains and lake in the background. They will take several photos and you can choose the ones you like. ¥20 for each laminated photo. Different photo sizes are available. ¥20. 
  • Canoe ride to the Island in the middle of the lake. The canoes are by the pier. Depending on the time of day, you may be able to negotiate the price with them. They wait until the canoe is full of passengers then they paddle you out to the island for 20 minutes and paddle you back. ¥50. 
  • Gemu Mountain Cable Car. A quick visit to the top of the most prominent peak in the area via cable car with spectacular views. There is a cave near the top and some mountain monkeys to see. 
  • Hiking in the surrounding mountains. 
  • Rent a bicycle or electric/motor scooter. A popular activity here is to bike around the 70-km lake. Half of the road around the lake (Yunnan side) isn’t paved and in not so good shape for bikes. ¥20-150. 

. . . Lugu Lake . . .

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. . . Lugu Lake . . .