Lugu Lake straddles between Ninglang County in Yunnan Province and Yanyuan County in Sichuan Province, about 300km away from Lijiang. It is a plateau lake with a total area of 52 square kilometers, 2,685 meters above the sea level. The average depth is 45m, and the deepest point being 93m. The lake remains an uncontaminated plateau lake with the crystal-clear water.
Lugu Lake is embraced in green mountains. The best-loved one by the Mosuo people is the Holy Gemu Mountain (the Lion Mountain). The local people worship it as their Goddess Gemu. On 25th July of each lunar year, they will gather at the foot of the mountain for a great sacrificial rite.
Among the five islands in the lake, three are in the territory of Yunnan and two in that of Sichuan. Heiwawudao, Ligedao are metaphorically called Three Islands of Ponglai (means Islands of the Immortals in Chinese). Sitting in the middle of the lake, Heiwawudao Island is also called the Chieftain Island because Ashaoyun, the chieftain of Yongning, built his villa on the island in the Guangxu period of the Qing Dynasty. Rock, an American scientist, also used to reside on this island. On the south side of the lake stand Liwubidao Island lies at the foot of the Lion Mountain. It is actually a small peninsular formed by the extension of the Lion Mountain into the Lake. A dozen of Mosuo families live on this island so it is possible for the visitors to experience the life on the island and, at the same time, enjoy the beautiful scenery of the lake.
Many cultural sites and scenic spots are scattered along the lakeside. They are Mosuo villages, plateau hot springs, the underground maze- Lucky Cave, the Chieftain’s Palace, Zhamei Lama Temple, Riyuehe – The Ruins of the Yuan Army Quarters when Kublai Khan was on his south expansion and Yongning – the key town on the Ancient Tea-horse Road.
The pretty and graceful Mosuo girls, the ancient and natural canoes and the pleasant fishing songs are considered to be the three most enjoyable things on the lake.
• Mosuo Coming-of-Age
The Mosuos, a branch of the Naxi ethnic group with a population of about 15,000, are the main ethnic group scattered in the lakeside villages. The Mosuo women wear long hair tied into a bun and red, green and black garments and white folding skirts with colorful sashes tied round their waists. Before 13 years old, they usually wear long gowns. After the initiation ceremony at the age of 13, men wear trousers and women wear skirts.
• Unique Mosuo Marriage Culture
Well-known as “Kingdom of Women”, Mosuo people still keep matriarchal society today. Women manage the finances, hold power, and enjoy a high status in family. They in charge of productive activity, and bring up children. Marriage culture is one of the most representative cultures in Mosuo people. Instead of getting married and holding a wedding ceremony, they are fond of “walking marriage”. The woman and the man keep stable relationship through activities in the day, and the man will walk to the woman’s room and have relationship with woman at night, but will leave before day broke. This cohabit life between couple’s is called ‘walking marriage’. When the woman deliver a baby, baby is brought up and cultivated by woman’s extended family, while baby’s father won’t step in his baby’s grow-up process.
Lugu Lake Activities
• Zhucao Boat
Zhucao boat is a kind of strange shape canoe, the traditional means of transportation of Mosuo people, especially as the helper of Axia walking marriages.
• Guozhuang Party
Guozhuang Party is a tradition of Lugu Lake entertainment project, is a good time for Mosuo women to choose their lover. Men and women join hands in a circle, in the middle there is lit bonfires and they dance. The girls are well-dressed, all accessories are put in their body and wrap black cloth in their heads, wear a white pleated skirts, sing love songs, then serve a bowl of liquor “Sulima” and ask lover publicly pledged loyalty.
• Wrestling Competition
The wrestling competition only ever held in the Mosuo traditional festival, when is a good time for Mosuo boy to show their heroic. Now, like the Guozhuang Party, it is geared to the needs of visitors daily activities and to change in form that Mosuo boys fight alone with male tourists or with a number of female tourists. Tourists do not have to worry about his own safety, because although Mosuo boys intrepid, but he knows hospitality that they will make visitors to enjoy and won’t hurt them.
• Torch Festival
Torch Festvial is a traditional festival that many nationalities like in Ninglang area, Yi nationality folk regard Torch Festival as a very grand traditional festival, and in Yi language it was called “Sheze”.
• Zhuanshan Festival
The Mosuo wooden houses are built with square-deged timber in the style of ‘jinganshi building’ also called Mulengfang (Timber House). The Naxi villages look graceful and unaffected. The Zhuanshan Festival (the Festival of Turning-around the Mountain) which falls on 25th July of the lunar year is the traditional festival of the Mosuo people. On that day they would dress in their Sunday best to worship the Gemu Goddess Mountain (the Lion Mountain) and pray for the Goddess’ protection. It is also a time for horse racing, wrestling and antiphonal sining. The young people take the chance to search for their lovers, whom they call A xia.
• Wuxi Festival
Pumi nationality is one of the indigenous peoples in Lijiang Ninglang County. Wuxi Festival is a ceremonious traditional festival of Pumi nationality. The meaning of “wu” is the year, “xi” means new, so “wuxi” is the meaning of “New Year”. Wuxi Festival generally held in the seventh or eighth in the first lunar month. As a rule, Wuxi Festival should be 9 days. Now most of the Pumi nationality region still attaches great importance to this holiday, part of the Pumi nationality area celebrate New Year’s Eve in the lunar calendar as the Han nationality.
• Zhuanhai Festival
Zhuanhai Festival called “thanks” in the Mosuo language, which means that go around their mother lake and “thank deity of Mother Lake”. Every new year’s day, fifteen in the first lunar month, or fifth and twenty-fifth in the first lunar month, boys and girls, young and old in the village will come to Lugu Lake. Every one or two li (equals to 500 meters) in the lake regions has fixed place for burning incense and sacrifice. People will stop to every fixed place to burn incense and kowtow, at the same time also worship the god of mountains.
How to Get to Lugu Lake
• From Lijiang to Lugu Lake
There are two buses every morning depart at 9:00 and 10:00 from Lijiang to Lugu Lake directly, 6 hours driving. The route is Lijiang Passenger Station to Lugu Lake Passenger Station (Daluoshui Village). Besides, there is tourism special line bus to Lugu Lake every day departs at 8:30 in Lijiang Old Town parking lot. The bus will go to Luoshui first and then to Lige. If you want to turn back to Lijiang from Lugu Lake, then you need to buy ticket in Lugu Lake Passenger Station (Daluoshui Village). Every morning there are two buses depart at 10:00 and 12:00.
• From Lijiang to Ninglang County and then to Lugu Lake
There are many buses to Ninglang from Lijiang Passenger Station, the earliest bus departs at 7:30 and the last bus departs at 15:00. There are 10 buses in a day. The road condition is not very good, therefore this 125 km distance takes 4 hours driving.
After arriving Ninglang County, you can find many mini buses and midibuses that will depart if there is no available seat. The bus type is generally 6 to 7 seats. From Ninglang to Luoshui, Yongning, and Lige is 80 km, 2 hours’ driving. The mini or midi buses to Lugu Lake generally just go to Daluoshui Village. After arriving Daluoshui village, people can start their Lugu Lake tour.
Best time to visit Lugu Lake
From March to May and from September to November is the best time. Spring and autumn is the best season to travel Lugu Lake. And it is best to avoid to travel in June, July and August when is rainy season, first reason is that the road is slippery and the second reason is that without bright sun you can not appreciate the charming of Lugu Lake scenery. If you choose to visit Lugu Lake in winter, then you should put on suitable clothing to keep warm. During this season most of lake view rooms will be quite cold, so prevent from getting cold is what tourists should pay attention.
1. The airport in Luguhu Lake County is located at the high altitude and it’s easy to be shrouded by heavy fog. So you’d better get there by land. (Charter a vehicle or take long-distance bus).
2. Please check out the weather before your travel. Try to avoid rainy day or foggy day, otherwise you will
3. Lugu Lake locates in high altitude area, so temperature will be lower than plain area. Please choose a warm season to Lugu Lake otherwise it is very cold and you won’t want to see the view.
4. Please take enough cash. It’s hard to find an ATM machine and most of the hostel and shops in Lugu Lake can’t accept bank card to pay.
5. Lugu Lake is undeveloped area, people who acknowledge English are limited. Please prepare some daily Chinese before travel there.