Nam Tso is located in the middle of Tibet Autonomous Region. With a rectangular shape, a length of 70 kilometers from west to east, a width of 30 kilometers from north to south, and an area of 1,920 square kilometers, Nam Tso is acclaimed to be the second largest lake in Tibet and the third largest salty water lake in China. Its deepest point is over 120 meters and its water storage capacity is 76.8 billion cubic meters. With 4,718 meters above sea level, it is the highest salty water lake in the world.
Nam Tso, meaning “Heaven Lake” in Tibetan, is one of the three holy lakes of Tibet, the other two of which are Manasarovar Lake and Yamdrok Lake. Nam Tso is the first holy lake of g.yung drung bon (Bonism) of ancient Xang Xung Kingdom and the Dharma of Bon religion records that Nam Tso has 72 holy lands. After that, Nam Tso became the one of the most famous holy lakes of Tibetan Buddhism. The Tashi Monastery on the Tashi Peninsula stretching into the lake, is always wreathed by burning incense. In the sheep year of Tibetan calendar, much more pilgrims go to the holy lake for paying their homage.
Nam Tso is 220 kilometers away from Lhasa. About 40% of the lake is in Dangxiong County, Lhasa and 60% of the lake is in Bange County, Naqu. To the south of Lake Nam Tso are the high Gangdise Mountains, and to the southeast are the majestic Nyenchen Tanglha Mountains. On the hilltop of Tashi Peninsula, there is a great view of stunning sunrise and sunset of Nam Tso and Nyenchen Tanglha. Besides, the twinkling stars over the night sky are also scenic splendor.
The ice, on Nam Tso Lake in winter, is thick and melt in May of the next year. The crackling ice makes a loud noise when it melt, which is an extraordinary nature view.
There are vast grassland and natural pasture around the lake, and there is grazing all year round. Before the winter coming every year, the nomads in Northern Tibet drive the cows and sheep to here for living through the severe cold.
The wide plain around the Nam Tso Lake is natural pasture. Flocks of wild ducks fly here to inhabit and breed offspring every early summer.
A lot of wild animals and birds inhabit in the Nam Tso area and even its surrounding area. Besides, there are precious herbs such as cordyceps, fritillaria, saussurea (snow lotus), etc. in this lake area.
More wild animals often live around the lake, such as black bear, wild yak, kiang, Tibetan gazelle, blue sheep, argali, fox, river deer, marmot, wolf, and so on.
The lake abounds with brachymystax lenok and scaleless fishes what only live on plateau, mainly schizothorax fish of cyprinidae and nemachilus of cobitidae. Normally, schizothorax fish is growing up to 1 to 2 Kilograms and the bigger one will reach to 7 to 8 kilograms and even dozens of kilograms. With the uplift of the crust, the original fishes evolved gradually to adapt to the special environment of the plateau since 2 million years. Finally, the original fishes became today’s brachymystax lenok and scaleless fishes, and some fishes still keep the characteristics of big head and short tail.
There are many kinds of birds in high mountains and grasslands and desert area around Nam Tso, such as pseudopodoces humilis, pyrgilauda ruficollis, pyrgilauda blanfordi, montifringilla taczanowskii, montifringilla adamsi, tetraogallus tibetanus, Tibetan sandgrouse, etc. Among of them, tetraogallus tibetanus will migrate to the south and Tibetan sandgrouse will migrate to the zone below 4000 meters.
There are many waterfowls at Nam Tso, among which the most common and predominant number are resident birds, such as larus brunnicephalus, anser indicus, tadorna ferruginea and tern. The black-necked crane is the only crane at Nam Tso, they breed at the north and center of Tibetan plateau and overwinter at the valley of the middle reaches of Yarlung Tsangpo River, at the South of Himalaya, at Hengduan Mountains of the northwest Yunnan, at the Caohai Lake area in Weining, northwest of the Guizhou Plateau.