Qinghai Lake

Qinghai Lake, known as “Kokonor” in Mongolian and “Tso Ngonbo” in Tibetan, is the largest lake in China. Tibetan nomads live around the lake, and in the summer, fields of rapeseed flowers bloom on the shores. Of the five small islands in the lake, Bird Island is the most well-known, as many species of migratory birds flock there in the summer.
I first traveled to Qinghai Lake in the summer of 2008, and then again in the summer of 2009. The first time I rode a public bus to the lake, but the second time I shared a private car with a few other travelers. The lake is gorgeous in the summer, and there are many beautiful grassy mountains to explore nearby. On the way there, I saw many nomads, sheep, and yaks.
In order to access the lake, tourists must buy a ticket. However, nomads on horses will offer to take you to another section of the lake for a much lower price, and it’s worth it. Riding horses with Tibetan nomads is fantastic! I was surprised that the nomad girl who took me to the lake was able to ride the horse while sitting behind the saddle. Now, I know how to ride horses and didn’t need her to accompany me, but the nomads insisted that these were Tibetan horses and a foreigner could not possible understand how to properly ride them.