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Lugu Lake

Lijiang, China

Lake Lugu is located in the border territory of Yunnan and Sichuan province, about 200kms apart from Lijiang. Unspoiled by modernization and progress, the waters are pristine and crystal clear while the Norzu, Pumi, Yi, Mosuo and Tibetan ethnic minorities that inhabit the different shores of the lake have retained much of their ancient customs, specially the Mosuo. People that visit the area, mostly do so for the beauty of the lake and the unique matriarchal society of the Mosuo people.

There are several options to reach Lugu with the most time/cost effective one being a small van from Lijiang that takes 4-6 people at around RMB100/ person in 5 hours. Buses take longer and cost less while private cars are very convenient but cost a ton of money. Flights from Kunming also come to Luguhu airport, with shuttle bus covering the rest of the 25 kms to the lake. Approach from Xichang, Panzhihua is also possible. There is a RMB70 entrance fee with a possible discount for students. The UV rays are strong at this altitude (8,800 ft) so carry lots of sunscreen. Spring and Autumn are the best times to visit and enjoy the outdoor activities and scenic beauty. Lodging and restaurants of various price ranges have popped up all over the populous region (Luoshui and Lige village), giving tourists plenty of options to choose from. Plan to spend at least a couple of days here.

Lugu lakes holds five islands, three of which are more popular. These are Lige (at the foot of Gemu Goddess Mountain, with an observation deck for great views), Liwubi (in the center with a lama temple and a special ceremony on 4th June of the lunar calendar) & Xiwae (an island with great strategic military value in the olden days). Hiking up the Gemu Goddess Mountain is also a popular activity with a panoramic outlook at the top.
Within the perimeter surrounding the lake, there is a Mosuo Museum, the only one of its kind and about 15 kms away is the Zhamei Monastery, built in the Ming era and visited by the Mosuo and Pumi people.

Other activities include cycling around the lake with rentals available from hotels, boating in Lugu lake, attending bonfire parties with the local Mosuo families and paying a visit to a Mosuo family home. All activities have a separate charge ranging from RMB20 – RMB100.

Of all the things to do though, what is most interesting is observing the Amazonian way of life of the Mosuo, a rare society where the lineage is passed down from the mothers and the oldest women in the household is responsible for running daily affairs. There is no burden on women to stick to a single partner and they can have multiple partners with no strings attached. The role of father is undertaken by the women’s brother with children sometimes unsure of who their fathers are. The women also take part in all hunting and bread winning activities alongside the men.

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