Potatso National Park
Potatso is the first national park on China’s mainland. In Tibetan, the name means a lake that delivers all living creatures from suffering to the other shore of the sea of bitterness. Located at the center of the “Three Parallel Rivers” world natural heritage site, the park stands out with its sublime natural scenery, rich wildlife and many places of cultural interest.
Potatso National Park includes Shudu Lake in the north, Bitahai Lake in the south, Luorong Village in between, and a large expanse of alpine meadow laced with primeval forests. These four scenic sites are linked by a 69-km figure-8-shaped road, which allows only green-fueled vehicles.
Shudu is a Tibetan word. Shu refers to yoghurt and cheese, while du means picking up. Together they indicate that on this land, abundant in water and grass, residents can raise large herds of animals and hence live a bountiful life.
One can trek the 2.7-km-long boardwalk around the lake to enjoy the picturesque scenery – clear water to one side, a dense primeval forest on the other. Sapphire blue, the lake attracts a good variety of wild ducks. In the limpid water swim gold-colored fish only found in Shangri-La. Abundant wildlife inhabit the forest, including musk deer, bear, leopard, Asian golden cat and diverse species of birds.
Bitahai in Tibetan means a place blanketed in fallen oak leaves. The Bitahai Lake is the most famous glacial erosion lake on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Along with aquatic plants, the marshy pastures on the northern, western and southern banks of the lake constitute its wetland vegetation.
Visitors can either walk along the 4.2-km-long boardwalk by the shore or take a boat to sightsee. The lake abounds in fauna and fish resources. Various species of plants float on the water, turning the lake into an aquatic botanical garden. Schools of multi-lip fish swim around boats. A primitive species harking back to the Ice Age 2.5 million years ago, this fish with three lips is found only in Bitahai Lake.
When rhododendron bushes on the bank come into blossom in June, fish that accidentally swallow petals that have fallen into the lake may be seen floating belly up, for the flower is slightly toxic. But the fish are not actually poisoned, as the loss of consciousness is only temporary.