The Incredible Natural Waterfalls in Shangri-La

Created date: 2020/12/23
Napa Lake: Lake in Summer and Meadow in Winter

Located in the northwestern part of Shangri-La County, Napa Lake is a seasonal alpine lake. During the rainy summer and autumn it is a large lake, surrounded by a small swamp pasture. The dry winter and spring months see the lake gradually shrink and turn into a large swamp meadow, called “Yila Grassland”.

Apart from the beautiful scenery, the white eight-petaled lotus tower at the entrance also catches the eye, and is one of only two such towers in the world, with the other being in India. You can pay for a horseback ride in this scenic area, and if you come to take photos, you will get the best results by climbing to the higher ground near the lake.

You can enjoy Napa Lake by chartered car or cycling: visit the Lanyue Valley and Songzanlin Temple by chartered car or take a 3 to 4 hour 40 km cycling trip round the lake. In the summer and autumn, you can also take in a sea of flowers and the golden grassland.


White-Water Terraces (Baishuitai): Scenic Travertine Pool

Baishuitai is located in Sanba Township, Shangri-La County, about 100 km from Shangri-La County. It is a scenic travertine pool similar to Pamukkale in Turkey. The white pools stack up the hillside resembling terraced rice paddies, filled with spring water like so many mirrors reflecting the blue sky and white clouds.

Baishuitai is a holy place of the Naxi people’s Bon religion, where the religion’s founder, Tönpa Shenrab, reached enlightenment. Legend has it that the local Naxi people’s tribal gods built up these terraces to teach the people how to cultivate the land, so their descendants call them the Immortal Fields.


Baimaracuo, Tuanjie Village

Located in Tuanjie Village, Xiaozhongdian Town, Shangri-La County, Baimaracuo is a small highland lake off the beaten track. Circled by aquatic plants the lake keeps its circular shape all year round, as if a full moon fell from the sky into the dirt, earning it the local name of Moon Lake.

Baimaracuo is unchanging throughout the seasons, but at its best in autumn. The lakeside meadows are aflame with gorgeous wolfsbane flowers, where sheep and cattle peacefully graze the grassland, the blue sky and white clouds are reflected in the calm lake surface, while smoke from distant villages rises slowly: it’s like a fairy land on Earth.

In local legend, Baimaracuo symbolizes love until death You can sometimes see yellow ducks swimming in the lake, chasing each other and calling back and forth. If one suffers misfortune, the other can never bear living in this world.


ShenPu: A Sign of Good Luck

ShenPu (Shen Waterfall) is located at the foot of the Meili Snow Mountain Goddess Peak. It is a small waterfall formed by meltwater from glaciers. Flitting in the breeze, the water splashes down from the heights, creating a rainbow on sunny days, which for the locals is a sign of good luck.

Shen Waterfall is an important place in the Meili Mountains for Tibetan Buddhists, who journey here on foot to sing and dance round the holy waterfall, getting drenched under it and opening their mouths wide to drink the heaven-sent water, as well as to pray to the spirits for happiness and wellbeing.


The Ice Lake

Located at the foot of Meili Snow Mountain’s Jiangjun Peak, the ice lake is about 4,100 m above sea level. It is a dark green body of meltwater from glaciers and snow, and serves as the main water source for Yubeng Village. Seen from the slope of the small mountain beside the icy lake, the dark green water reflects the blue sky and white clouds, appearing calm and serene against the surrounding white snowy peaks.

The two small piles of ice by the lakeside were formed by ice avalanches, but in recent years, with climate change and increasing tourism, they are slowly melting away, and are no longer the beauty they once were. If you want to see the two ice piles, you are advised to go as soon as possible.


Shenhu Lake

Shenhu lake is located in the shadow of Meili Snow Mountain’s Miancimu Peak. It is where the local Tibetans gather on August 15th to circumambulate the lake, whose water is sacred for the believers. It is about 19 km from Yubeng village to Shenhu lake, rising in altitude by some 1,600 m. it is very difficult to walk, so it’s off the beaten track and one of Yubeng’s best kept secrets.

The best place to observe Shenhu Lake is on the ridgeline to the left, overlooking a pool of turquoise water. During the annual snow and ice melt, you can see a strip of white ice and snow surrounded by a circle of green lake water - very wonderful.


Moon Bay, The Jinsha River Big Bend

Moon Bay, also known as the Jinsha River Big Bend, is located in Benzilan Town between Meili Snow Mountain and Zhongdian. Finding itself blocked by a conical mountain, the rolling Jingsha River had to turn sharply, forming a horseshoe bend. The scenery is strange and eye-catching, bringing many tourists to stop for a shot.

Moon Bay used to be a place you could just park and enjoy the view, but the local government absorbed it into the Meili Snow Mountain scenic prk, and built an enclosure and observation deck along the road. Nowadays, if you want to admire Moon Bay, you have to purchase the Meili Snow Mountain Scenic Package to enter the observation deck.