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Lugu Lake – the Beautiful Home to the Secret Matriarchal Tribe

The scenic Lugu Lake in Lijiang, Yunnan, China, is famous for its unspoiled natural beauty and untouched minority cultural diversity. In the local Naxi Mosuo language, “Lu” means ravine, and“Gu” means in, therefore Lugu Lake is a lake in the ravine.

Lugu Lake is surrounded by high mountains and steep gores, with more than three months of snow in a year. Featuring serene waters, fresh air, verdant surroundings and distant snow-capped mountains, Lugu Lake, the “Mother Lake” of local Mosuo people, is a “Penglai Fairyland”.

There are about 13,000 people living along the shores of Lugu Lake, including Mongolian, Yi, Han, Naxi, Tibetan, pumi, Bai and Zhuang, among whom about 6,000 are Mongolian. The secret Mosuo is a branch of Mongolian and an ancient matriarchal society.

Read on to know Lijiang Lugu Lake travel essentials, best things to do, the best time to visit, and how to get to Lugu Lake. Embark a journey to this hidden gem of Yunnan, with boating, island exploration, and scenic hikes.

Lugu Lake Facts

  • In Chinese: 泸沽湖
  • Location: in Lijiang, Yunnan, in southwestern part of China; Junction of Yanyuan County, Sichuan Province and Ninglang County, Yunnan Province
  • Area: 1 square kilometers
  • Altitude: 2690 meters
  • Weather:subtropical monsoon climate
  • Tickets: RMB100
  • Activities: Mosuo family visit, bonfire party with local people, Lugu lake boating withislands exploration
  • The time needed: 1to 2 days
  • Suited to:nature enthusiasts, minority culture explorers, and anyone seeking a vacation with tranquility
Lugu Lake Boat Ride Yunnan
Take a boat ride on Lugu Lake

Mosuo Tribe: Culture and Traditions

And Matriarchy Society

The Mosuo have been settled in Lugu Lake for more than 1500 years. The local Mosuo people still retain the matriarchal family form, so it is called the “mysterious women’s kingdom”. In a matriarchal family, the mother dominates everything.

Mosuo Marriage

Walking marriage is the traditional mode of marriage among the Mosuo people. In the daytime, men and women seldom spend time alone, and they will only express their feelings for their lovers by dancing and singing at parties. If a man is in love with a woman, he will climb up to the woman’s ‘Flower House’ (the room of a Mosuo adult woman) in the middle of the night. The man will hang his hat or other items outside the door, indicating that the two are dating. Then they must leave at dawn.

Since women are the head of the household in a matrilineal society, children are born to the mother’s family. The biological father would hold a public feast when the child was one month old to acknowledge the blood relationship and to avoid same-father incest.建筑

Music and Dance

Mosuo folk music and dance are part of the traditional culture. It is said that the Mosuo people can dance seventy-two kinds of dances. When you attend the bonfire party, you can sing and dance with the local Mosuo people.

What to See in Lugu Lake

Gemu Goddess Mountain

Gemu Goddess Mountain is the highest peak near Lugu Lake, rising 3,754 meters above sea level. The Mosuo people believe that this mountain is an embodiment of the goddess Gemu.

It is said that the goddess Gemu fell in love with the god of Houlong Mountain. But they could only date after dark and before dawn, otherwise they would be punished by the gods.

One night, Gem and Houlong indulged in joy and forgot the time, and the sky gradually became light. The mountain god Houlong panicked and jumped on the horse’s back. Unexpectedly, in the panic, Houlong fell off the horse’s back, and the horse left huge hoof prints on the ground. The sky was already bright, Houlong Mountain God’s body began to become stiff and unable to move, and finally turned into a mountain.

Goddess Gemu was heartbroken and cried for seven days and seven nights, the tears filled the hoofprints into what is now Lugu Lake. Houlong mountain god heard the cries, used his last strength, the pearl on his body flung out. The pearls scattered in the lake and became a small island.

Caohai (Grass Sea)

The Grass Sea is in the southeast of Lugu Lake. Due to years of sedimentation, the lake is shallow and has dense reeds. The grass sea is about seven kilometres long and eight hundred metres wide, with an area of more than nine thousand acres. In the cold winter season, the black water birds follow the waves there, and the Sea of Grass has really become a world of water birds.

There is a 300-metre-long wooden bridge in the reeds of the Sea of Grass, which is called “Walking Marriage Bridge”.

Top Things to Do in Lugu Lake Lijiang

Lugu Lake is one of the best places to visit for your Yunnan tour. It offers a number of activities that promise to captivate and enchant different types of travelers.

Lugu Lake Boat Ride

Lugu Lake is the third deepest freshwater lake in China, with a length of 9.5 kilometres from north to south, a width of 5.2 kilometres from east to west, and a shoreline of about 44 kilometres. There’s not better way to enjoy the breathtaking scenery and experience the tranquility of the lake than taking a small boat.

Walking the Lige Peninsula

Lige Peninsula, located in the northeastern part of the foothills of Gemu Goddess Mountain, is one of the seven pearl and gem-like islands in Lugu Lake. After the boat trip. take a leisurely walk along the peninsula, visit local Tibetan and Mosuo families living at the traditional mosuo dwellings.

There are some several trails available for different levels of walking and hiking difficulty, offering panoramic views of the lake and its surroundings.

Attend a Bonfire party

Bonfire parties are a popular tradition of Mosuo people at Lugu Lake. Join in the festivities at an ancient Mosuo village, listening to local music performances, and participating in traditional dances. It’s a fantastic way to experience the Mosuo culture. Simply relax and have fun.

Visit the Lamasery

The Mosuo people of Lugu Lake believe in their own primitive religion, Dabaism, in addition to Lamaism. Since the introduction of Lamaism to the Lugu Lake area, local temples of the black and yellow sects have been built one after another.

The pujas held by the temple in accordance with the law have become a grand festival for the Mosuo people.

Best Time to Visit Lugu Lake Yunnan

Generally speaking, autumn (September to November), is the best time to visit Lugu Lake in Lijiang Yunnan. During this time, the weather is mild and pleasant, with comfortable temperatures and clear skies. Travelers can enjoy watch beautiful sunrise and sunset, as well as the stunning autumn colors.

Another favorable time to visit Lugu Lake is from March to May when the weather begins to warm up after the cold winter. The flowers start to bloom and the trees turn greens.

In summer, from June to August, Luge Lake can be crowded due to many domestic tourists, but it it suitable for various outdoor activities.

Winter, from December to February, can be a good time to visit Lugu Lake for people who wish to enjoy winter landscapes and a quieter atmosphere. But be aware that it will be very cold with freezing temperatures.

Further reading: Visit Yunnan in Winter

How to Get to Lugu Lake

Lugu Lake is accessible by flight and bus from Lijiang, Kunming, and some other places.

By Air: Located in Shizhu Mountain, Hongqiao Township, Ninglang Yi Autonomous County, Lijiang City, Ninglang Luguhu Airport (NLH) is 25k away from Lugu Lake. You can take a domestic flight to Lugu Lake from Kunming, Guiyang, Chengdu, and Chongqing.

By Bus: If you plan a trip to Lugu Lake from Lijiang, you can take a bus at the Lijiang Passenger Transport Center. The journey takes around 4-5 hours. It’s suggested that you check the bus schedule in advance, for the exact departure time.

By Private Car: Another nice option to travel from Lijiang to Lugu Lake is to rent a private car or taxi. It costs more money, and is more convenient and flexible.

By Shared Minibus: At the Lijiang Ancient Town, there are shared mini buses available from Lijiang to Lugu Lake. The shared mini buses are more affordable compared to private car, though, the travel time is longer due to the potential stops along the way to pick up and drop off other passengers.

Attractions Nearby Lugu Lake

Further Lugu Lake to enrich your journey in this region by adding blow attractions to your trip:

  • Lige Village: Discover the peaceful beauty of Lige Village, known for its idyllic charm and traditional architecture. Explore the narrow lanes, visit ancient temples, and witness the harmonious blend of nature and culture.
  • Dagu Glacier: Embark on a day trip to Dagu Glacier, located in Deqin County. Marvel at the magnificent glaciers, towering peaks, and pristine alpine landscapes as you immerse yourself in this untouched wilderness.

Recommended Yunnan Tours to Lugu Lake

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