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Home Travel in Yunnan Potatso National Park
Potatso National Park
Travel in Yunnan

Potatso National Park (pǔ dá cuò guó jiā gōng yuán 普达措国家公园) is located in the centre of "Three Parallel Rivers" (sān jiāng bìng liú 三江并流) world natural heritage area, belong to northwest of Yunnan Province (yún nán 云南),China. It make up of the Wetlands of International Importance Bita Lake (bì tǎ hǎi 碧塔海) Nature Reserve and the "Three Parallel Rivers" world natural heritage Red Hill Area’s Shudu Lake (shǔ dū hú 属都湖).


The park is 22 kilometers away from the Shangri-La county (xiāng gé lǐ lā xiàn 香格里拉县), geographical longitude is 99°59'16 "-100°02'38" and north latitude is 27°43'52"-27°58'30", with a total area of approximately 300 Square kilometers.The park is in Northwestern Yunnan Province’s alpine cold temperate coniferous forest vegetation zones, the highest point of it is in the northern peak of Militang Mountain (mí lǐ táng 弥里塘), 4159 meters above sea level . The lowest point is Gold Ditch (jīn zǐ gōu 金子沟), in the east of the Bita Lake, 3200 meters above sea level, the relative elevation of 959 meters. Potatso National Park is the first national park in China, which set environmental protection, ecological and cultural tourism, environmental education and community benefit functions as one, under the premise of protecting the country and the world natural and cultural heritage, sightseeing opportunities for domestic and foreign tourists

pudacuo2The region of this park contains more than 20 percent of the country’s plant species, about one-third of its mammal and bird species and almost 100 endangered species, though it comprises only 0.7 percent of China's land area. It is notably home to vulnerable Black-necked cranes, many rare and beautiful orchids, and Himalayan Yew, a coniferous tree whose extracts are a source of the anticancer drug, paclitaxel.

Potatso is the transliteration of “Mandala” or “Putuo” which refers to a sacred mountain of Avalokiteshvara (Goddess of Mercy). “Putuo” or “Puda” means a boat to ferry people from sufferings. “Cuo” or “Tso” in Tibetan refers to a lake; so Potatso together means “Boat Lake”. Potatso used to be the original Tibetan name for Bita Lake where we can see an isle called Mandala or Mantuluo. Potatso is an unearthly world without pollution, far away from the bustle and hustle world.

pudacuo3Potatso Park is mainly comprised of Shudu Lake, Militang Pasture and Bita Lake; the elevation there ranges from 3,500 meters to 4,000 meters above the sea level. As an inseparable part of the Three Parallel Rivers-a world natural heritage by UNESCO, Potatso Park also functions as a natural reserve. The eco-environment is well preserved with marsh, lakes, virgin forests, brooks, springs, and rare fauna and flora resources. Summer scenes inside Potatso Park are so intoxicating that one will call it the home for meconopsis, primrose, rhododendron, spruce, fir, birch and other treasured plants. Lots of wild lives live in the park such as wild boar, musk deer, leopard, pheasant, and different species of birds.

Bitahai Lake

pudacuo4As the highest lake in Yunnan Province, Bitahai Lake lies in the east of Shangri-La County, and is over 3500 meters (about 3828 yards) above sea level. Covering an area of about 159 hectares (around 393 acres) with an average depth of 20 meters (about 22 yards), it is famous for its limpid water and its beautiful scenery which is set against the mountains and forests surrounding it.

Bitahai Lake is widely recognized as 'A Pearl on the Plateau' and the most attractive lake in Shangri-La. Legend has it that a goddess dropped her mirror carelessly to the earth when she was making up. The mirror was broken into pieces and they became lakes on the plateau. Among these pieces, the most beautiful piece with green jade turned into today's Bitahai Lake.

In the center of the lake stands an islet shaped like a boat sailing on the water surface. The islet is 30 meters (about 33 yards) above the water level, and is covered with rare plants and also includes spruces and rhododendrons. Here, birds twitter happily and flowers release their pleasant fragrances. When stepping on the islet, one feels as if they are arriving at Xanadu, and visitors have frequently remarked about how they have felt intoxicated by the aura, beauty and tranquility.

pudacuo5Bitahai Lake is fringed with rhododendrons of various varieties, which adds to its beauty. Every year around June and July, petals of the rhododendrons fall onto the water surface with the wind. When passing fish eat these rhododendron petals (which are slightly poisonous) they can be seen on their backs with their white bellies exposed as they float upside-down amongst the petals as if they are drunk. It is now the best-known sight of Bitahai Lake. It is also said that in the past bears in the nearby mountains often came out in the moonlight to catch these intoxicated fish.

Bitahai Lake is a place of legends. When visiting it, one can find that even a tree or a hill has a story. It is not only a feast to the eye, but also enhances our sense of beauty and our imagination.

Shudu Lake

pudacuo6Covering 15 square kilometers, Shudu Lake is 3,700 meters above the sea level. Shudu in Tibetan means cheese and stones. It’s said that when a Buddhist master visited this area, local Tibetans offered him cheese; he (the Buddhist master) saw stones in the ranch and wished the cattle of the farmers would be as strong as the stones.

One can trek along the planked path by Shudu Lake to enjoy the picturesque sceneries. Living in the limpid water of Shudu Lake are fish locally called Liefu fish (liè fù yú 裂腹鱼) (fish with cracks on their bellies). Furthermore, the lake is shallow enough to be called interestingly “a place where one can fish with a wooden stick”.

Thirty five kilometers away from the Shangri-La County, the Shudu Lake which is also called "Shudugang Lake" (shǔ dōu gǎng hú 属都岗湖) is a sister lake to the Bitahai lake, to which it is just more than 10km away. Through the thick forest between the two beautiful lakes, there is a winding path connecting them. As the source of the Shudugang River, the Shudu Lake is 3705m above the sea level and covers an area of 15 square kilometers. There is a unique species of fish living in the lake.This kind of fish has double lips and looks splendid with gold color. If you are lucky you may come across some wildlife such as wild ducks, yellow duck and so on.

pudacuo7The Shudu Lake is known for its clear water, its quietude and spectacular surrounding it. Next to it is one of the best grazing lands in Zhongdian. Every year in the seasons of spring and summer herds of cattle and flocks of sheep, along with sheds can be seen everywhere on the grazing land. To the east of the lake are the white birch woods which, in spring and summer time, are jade green but in late autumn the leaves turn golden, displaying a scenery pleasing both to the eye and the mind. The untouched nature surrounding grazing land includes high mountains, primeval forests in which there are a lot of giant trees, a number of species of wildlife, such as the bear, the musk dear, the lynx, the leopard, etc.

Shudu Lake has so marvelous scenery that it can indeed be called the paradise in the world.

Militang Pasture

pudacuo8Militang Pasture is between Shudu Lake and Bita Lake. Militang is the vastest pastureland in Pudacuo Park. It’s dotted with yaks and cabbage-like grass (locally called Yak-butter Grass because the local Tibetans use the leaves to wrap yak butter). Militang in Tibetan means “the Buddha’s eye” because it presents an eye outline when overlooked.

At Militang viewpoint, endless dry, brown grass, dotted with sporadic bushes, gave the wilderness an almost African look.

Location: ShuanQiao, Sangri-La,Yunnan,China
Advisory Tele: 86-887-8232523
First Aid Tele: 86-887-8232529
Complain Tele: 86-887-8232530
Transportation: Regular Bus in Shangri-La County (ticket: CNY 15)
Opening Hours: NOV-MAR: 8:00~16:00; Apr~Oct: 8:00~17:00
Admission Fee: CNY 190 (includes sightseeing tourist car fee)