Lugu Lake, at an altitude of 2690 meters, is located on the border of Yunnan Province and Sichuan Province. There are many ethnic minority groups inhabited around the lake, such as the Mosuo, Norzu, Yi, Pumi and Tibetan. The most numerous of these are the Mosuo people, a sub clan of the Naxi people, which considered as “a live fossil for researching the marital development history of Human beings” and "the last quaint Realm of Matriarchy". Hence, Lugu Lake is called the “mother lake” by the Mosuo people and it becomes “The Kingdom of Women” and “Home of the Matriarchal Tribe”.
Traveling to Lugu Lake not only takes you step into a mysterious land to explore the matriarchal society and know its “visiting marriage”, but also feast your eyes with beautiful scenery of the Pearl of Plateau.
Lugu Lake is an alpine lake located in a relatively low basin of the Hengduan Mountain System which caused for crustal movement to form a plateau karst downfaulted lake. With an area of 58.8 square kilometers, Lugu Lake is in a shape of horseshoe which can be divided into Liang Lake Scenic Area and Cao Lake Scenic Area with one third in Yunnan Province and two thirds in Sichuan Province. The lake is composed of 5 independent islands, 4 peninsulas, 1 long island with sea dyke, 14 bays, 17 sandbanks and 21 bajadas.
Caohai Lake, also Grass Sea, is jade located in the southeast of Lugu Lake. It is a happy land of aquatic plant, waterfowl, fish, shrimp, cowry, spiral shell, frog…The Mosuo girls in red and white taking the boat sailing through the reeds. And you can hear they sing merrily. How pleasant to relax on the clear water and under the blue sky.
Walking Marriage Bridge is a romantic bridge across on Caohai Lake area. It is the place where Mosuo people date each other. In the daytime, young men and women express affection through dancing or singing if you are interested on someone. The young men call his beloved one “Axia” and the young women call her beloved guy “Azhu”. When the night falls, the “Azhu” come to Walking Marriage Bridge to meet their girls. Today, the used bridge is 300 meters long where you can take a walk with your darling hand in hand.
Lige Island, Liwubi Island and Xiwae Island (Lock Island) are called the three magical islands of Lugu Lake.
Most travelers regard Lige Island as the most beautiful island which is situated at the foot of the Gemu Goddess Mountain, embraced by water on three sides. Climb up to the observation deck that travelers can enjoy panoramic view of Lige Island stretching into Lugu Lake.
Liwubi Island is located in the south central of Lugu Lake where the Mosuo dwelled on during their earliest years. There is a lama temple of Yellow sect called Liwubi Monastery here. Mosuo people will come to Liwubi Island to chant scriptures every lunar June 4th.
Xiwae Island, also called Tusi Island or Lock Island, is located in the northwest of Lugu Lake. In history, it was island with high military value for the great location and fenced walls, watchtowers to prevent the attract from bandits. In the 1920s, Joseph Lock who wrote “The Ancient Na-Khikingdom of South-West China” came to Xiwae Island and lived for a long time.
Gemu Goddess Mountain, also called Lion Mountain, at an altitude of 3450 meters, is the holy mountain for Mosuo people. In the lunar calendar of July 25th, the local Mosuo people gather together to pay worship to this holy mountain which lasts for more than 1000 years. To get up Gemu Goddess Mountain, travelers can hike up or take cable car from Nisai Village. The highlight of Gemu Goddess Mountain is the Goddess Cave facing with Lugu Lake, offering an observation deck to have panoramic view of Lugu Lake.
There are many beautiful villages surrounded the lake. Travelers can pay a visit to Luoshui Village with many wooden houses around the lake. Here, you can enjoy the bonfire camp organized by the local Mosuo people. Going ahead to the north is Lige Village embraced by water on three sides which is a fantastic place to watch sunrise. Next to Lige Village is Nisai Village which is famous for the Sweetheart Trees. The Little Luoshui Village is the last tribe of Mosuo with only 24 households. It is the last village of Yunnan Province. It is traditional, primitive and keeps the original lifestyle of Mosuo people.
Mosuo Museum, next to Mosuo Tusi Palace, is facing with Lugu Lake with beautiful environment. It is the only museum in China to present Mosuo people’s history, culture and folk customs. Opened in 2013, it shows the Tusi System, Lamaism, Mosuo Intangible Cultural Heritage and the cultural treasures include stoneware, bronze ware, pottery, Tusi remains and Mosuo folk objects, etc.
Zhamei Monastery, 13 kilometers from Lugu Lake, is the Lama monastery of Gelugpa which was built in Ming Dynasty. It is also the largest lama monastery for Mosuo people and Pumi group. The main building is composed of the main hall and two side halls in wooden structure, yellow tiles, gilded roof. In the side hall, there is a 12-meter-tall Maitreya Buddha, the clay sculpture in Tibetan style. There are six mural painting with exquisite line, bright color, vivid modeling.
Fee: vary with different route and visiting time, usually 30~200 Yuan per person
It is a great pleasure to take the Mosuo special canoe (Zhu Cao Chuan in Chinese) sailing on the tranquil Lugu Lake. No matter you want to enjoy the idyllic lake scenery, or want to seize the last moment to capture sunrise and sunset, boating is the best choice for you. Travelers can take canoe at Lige Village to Lige Bay, Bird Island, Xiwae Island, Little Luoshui Village, Luoshui Village and Dazu Village; also from Little Luoshui Village to Bowang Island, Liwubi Island. Moreover, canoes are available at Caohai Lake to sail around. It is a good choice to watch sunrise at Lige Village and Little Luoshui Village and enjoy sunset at Goddess Bay (close to Caohai Lake).
Cycling around Lugu Lake takes you view the mysterious Lugu Lake in all directions. It is about 60 kilometers altogether, taking about 7~8 hours. Your biking trip can do in clockwise from Luoshui Village, passing through Lige Village, Nisai Village, Little Luoshui Village, Dazu Village, Lama Temple, Gesa Ancient Village, Zhaojia Bay, Luowa, Nawa, Sanjia Village and getting back to Luoshui Village. Instead of consuming your energy, you can use a private car/van to cycle around which will be easy and energy-saving for you.
Fee: 20 Yuan per person for family visit
To know better about Mosuo people and its customs, you can pay a visit to local Mosuo people’s home. It consists of four rectangular structures arranged in a square, around a central courtyard. The first floor houses livestock, including water buffalo, horses, geese and poultry. Livestock may wander through the house during the day. The main cooking, eating and visiting areas are also on the first floor. The second floor is commonly used for storage and for the woman’s flowers room, other family members live in communal quarters. You can pay a visit to one of Mosuo’s family and have close contact with Mosuo people to know some authentic culture and “visiting marriage” stories, and you can taste the local specialty and food (Preserved Pork, Sumali Wine, Guang Dang Wine, Buttered Tea).
Fee: 30 Yuan per person for bonfire party
It is said that in ancient times, in order to fight the invading enemies, the chieftain of Mosuo people called on members to ally at the entrance of the village, setting alight a bonfire, stamping and yelling to muster morale. When the enemies were eventually driven out of their home, Mosuo people again gathered around bonfires to celebrate the triumphs. Thereby, the earliest Jiacuo Dance began as a collective activity. Later, the bonfire party is originally used for young man to meet his ideal lady through dance. When a young man falls in love with a girl, he will scratch the girl’s hand to invite her dance together. If the girl also has good feeling towards the young guy, the girl will response the man by scratch his hand back and tell her flower chamber to the guy to meet her at night. Nowadays, the bonfire party becomes a kind of entertainment for travelers and local Mosuo people to have fun together. The bonfire party usually begins at 20:00 at night at Little Luoshui Village and lasts for 1~1.5 hours. Travelers can enjoy the sing and dance performed by Mosuo people. And also, join the dance and sing happily till the party ends.
Mosuo people, the sub-clan of Naxi people, have inhabited this area more than 1600 years according to the documents of the Han Dynasty. They have their own language, but no script. They have their own native Daba religion and some are adherence to Tibetan Lamaism. Mosuo people have still preserved a very harmonious family structure and a system of matriarchal systems. The matriarchal family is composed exclusively of matrilineal members, including grandmother, mother, maternal aunts and uncles (mother’s brothers), sisters and brothers, and the children of oneself and of the sisters. The mother is in charge of the economics of the family.
And in the traditional Mosuo family, they implement “visiting marriage” – either woman or man will marry the other freely. The lovers meet at night the woman’s house and at dawn, the man goes home to his own maternal family. The couple will not set up a new family and do not share property.
Travelers usually spend 2 or 3 days visiting Lugu Lake area. On the first day, you may arrive in Lugu Lake at late afternoon, and you can take a canoe sailing on Lugu Lake to visit the islands (Liwubi Island, Princess House Island, Lise Island or Xiewae Island) and enjoy sunset on the boat which offers you fantastic opportunity to take some gorgeous pictures. At night, attend bonfire party to have fun with the local Mosuo people. On the second day, traveling around Lugu Lake to visit some of the featured villages and spots (Lige Village, Nisai Village, Little Luoshui Village, Dazu Village, Zuosuo Town and Caohai Lake) is the must-do activity. You can spend one day either by biking or renting a car (or use our private car) to cycle around. You’ll have the chance to pay a family visit to Mosuo’s home to experience their living traditional culture, also visit Mosuo Museum to know more history and culture about Mosuo people. On the third day, visit Zhamei Monastery when you leave Lugu Lake.
>> 7 Days Lijiang Lugu Lake with Mosuo Matriarchal Society Experience
(Lijiang / Lugu Lake / Lijiang)
Lugu Lake is surprising beautiful place which can be visited all year round. Flowers are blossom in different season, presenting you a charming painting scenery. The best time to visit Lugu Lake is from March to November and as for photographers, come from March to May and September to October that you will shoot brilliant pictures.
If you interested in the grandest festival of Mosuo people, come to the lunar July 25 that you can see Mosuo people dressed in traditional festival to pay a worship to Gemu Goddess Mountain.
Lugu Lake is located on the border of Yunnan and Sichuan, so travelers can visit Lugu Lake from Yunnan or from Sichuan. At present, there are three highway leading to Lugu Lake, one is from Xichang (Sichuan) to Lugu Lake for 258 kilometers, one is from Panzhihua to Lugu Lake for 220 kilometers and the third is from Lijiang to Lugu Lake for 230 kilometers.
Luguhu Airport, opended in October 2015, has limited flights from/to Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. The airport is about 25 kilometers from Lugu Lake with airport shuttle linked each other.
Since it is inconvenient to transfer to Lugu Lake at present, it is highly recommended to use our private service with private car and local guide to deliver you a worry free trip. To book the private service, please feel free to contact our professional travel consultants and they are here ready to help.
Lugu Lake is situated at 2690 meters high and ultraviolet ray is strong. The lowest temperature is 4 ℃ and the highest temperature is around 19 ℃ and the rainy months are from June to August. Sun-blocking scream and sunglasses are needed in four seasons. When visit in Summer, bring a light jacket and umbrella.
You are guaranteed to enjoy comfortable stay when visiting Lugu Lake. You can choose your accommodation from luxury hotels to budget but featured hostels. All the hotels and hostels are facing with Lugu Lake which means you can enjoy the lake scenery on the deck or in your room.
Muosuo people offers you good meal and fine wine. You can try Preserved Pork, Roast Fish and Suluma Wine (low alcohol, taste sour and sweet with faint scent).
Know the rules and customs about “visiting marriage” and think again when someone shows his affection to you.
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