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Introduction & Highlights

Lake Napa Hai lake, also called Lake Napa Nature Reserve, is located in the valley of a high mountain plateau. It lies about 3270 metres above sea level, covers 660 sq km., and is located in Shangri-la city, Yunnan province. Established in 1984, it is a wetland ecosystem protection zone for plateau seasonal lakes and marsh meadows. Lake Napa is a so-called Ramsar site under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Lake Napa is surrounded to the east, west and north by tall mountains which, during winter and spring, are covered in snow. It is both an ideal field for herdsmen and a paradise for many species of birds. The natural reserve is flat, surrounded by mountains.

This is, in the true sense, a seasonal lake. When summer comes, snow on the adjacent mountains melts and flows down into around ten rivers, forming a vast lake. In the dry season, Napahai becomes a boundless green grassland - the best time for herding sheep cattle.

Every September, the lake again turns into a temporary habitat for migratory birds, such as bar-headed geese, wild ducks and black-necked cranes which is one of the 12 rarest bird species in the world. During this period, the lake becomes an ideal place for ornithologists from around the world.

Napa Lake in Tibetan language is called "Napatso", the Chinese meaning for "the lake behind the forest".

The lake in late summer or early autumn has a lot of water, with Qinglong Pool, Naqu River and Wangqu River water pouring in, forming a large area of the lake, with its open water reaching thousands of hectares.

Around the lake there are nine ponors, and the water discharge feeds into Jinsha River via Nixi Tangmang River and Wujing Jiren River. In winter and spring seasons, the open water shrinks and the lake turns into a large swamp meadow. In winter, the unique and rare, black-necked cranes fly to the swamp meadow for winter.

Napahai Grassland is the largest one in Shangrila. Due to the humid climate, the local grass grows faster than other areas. Every year in May, Napa grassland is green while it is just beginning to sprout in other areas. At the beginning of June, a variety of wildflowers open and flocks and herds have fun on the grassland.

Napahai Lake is a true paradise for all types of birds, especially water fowl, such as the black-necked cranes, the bar-headed goose, as well as a number of other species of geese: the common mallard, the Himalayan griffon, the egret and the white-tailed eagle.

When October steps in, flocks of black-necked cranes, bar-headed geese, white cranes and sheldrakes regularly come here looking for food and fun.

Main Attractions:

Napahai Lake

The verdant grasses sprawl on the earth like a greenish felt. You can see flocks and herds here and there leisurely eating grasses on Napahai Lake. You will see they mix with each other. In the west, stand three snow mountains, they are not only a part of the charming scene of southwest China, but also a sign of tremendous vitality.


Northwest of Shangri-la county, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

Travel Tips

1. Renting a car to visit Napahai Lake is very convenient, to enjoy the scenery along the ring road and back to Shangri-La.

2. Renting a bike to cycle along the ring road is also very popular and a good way to take in the scenery.

3. The best seasons for travelling to Napa Lake are summer and autumn.