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Napahai Natural Reserve


Shangri-la County, Diqing Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Yunnan Province.

Reasons to visit

The largest grassland in Shangri-la.

Our Ratings

Opening Hours

  • 8:30a.m.-6:00p.m.

Napahai Natural Lake Reserve is 3,270m above sea level and covers 660 square kilometers. It is about 8km northwest of Shangri-La town in Yunnan Province. It is both an ideal field for herdsmen and a paradise for many species of birds. This is, in the true sense, a seasonal lake. When summer comes, snow on the adjacent mountains melts and flows down into about ten rivers forming a vast lake. In the dry season, Napahai becomes a boundless green grassland - the best time for herding sheep cattle. Every Steptember 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.

Napahai (Napa Lake) means "the lake besides forest". Napahai is located in the northwest of Shangri-la County, 8 km away from the county, is a seasonal mountain lake, and also one of the few the thermal alpine swamp and swamp meadow in Yunnan province. Three sides by mountains and the mountain elevation is from 3800 to 4449 meters, one side connected with Zhongdian basin. 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 there are a lot of water, with Qinglong Pool, Naqu River and Wangqu River water pour into, there formed a large area of the lake, and its open water can reach thousands of hectares of large water. Around the lake there are 9 ponors, and the water discharge from here, feed into Jinsha River via Nixi Tangmang River and Wujing Jiren River. In winter and spring seasons, the open water shrink and the lake turn into a large swamp meadow. In winter, our country unique rare bird black-necked cranes fly to swamp meadow for winter. Napahai was listed as a provincial-level nature reserve by the Yunnan province people's government in 1982.

What to See

【Napa Lake】
Napa Lake is a seasonal highland lake. Late summer or early autumn, the rains frequency drop which enlarge the lake surface; and the late autumn to the next summer and fall, the lake surface fall. In October, autumn wind up, a flock of black-necked cranes and bar-headed gooses, white cranes yellow duck, and sheldrakes come here on time, and they foraging and playing by the lake.

【Yila Prairie】
Winter and spring seasons, Napa Lake surface is shrinking, becomes large swamp meadow—Yila Prairie, which is the largest spring pasture in Yunnan province.

【Gunyin Temple】
In the Dongshan Mountain of Napahai is Shangri-la ancient temple ruin Gunyin Temple. The temple was built at the end of the Yuan dyansty, destroyed in the battle of early Qing dynasty. Step into ancient temple, people will have a panoramic view of Napahai grassland. According to historical records, in the temple there was a Jamba Buddha statue of three zhangs (a unit of length=3.33 meters) six feet, Ming dynasty traveler Xu Xiake had traveled to visit here, but was blocked by Lijiang Tusi Mu Family.

How to Get to Napahai Natural Reserve

It is 8 km from Napahai to Shangri-la county, tourists can take long-distance bus in Shangri-la to Napahai. If you miss the bus, you can also rent a car to there. Because Napahai is not far away from Songzanlin Monastery, tourists can arrange sightseeing of these two places in a day.

Travel Guide

【Chinese Name】: 纳帕海自然保护区
【Recommended Visiting Hours】: 3 to 4 hours
【Best Time to Travel Napahai】: The best time to visit Napahai should be June to November. During that time, the grass is lush and cattle and sheep everywhere. Winter and spring seasons, Napa Lake surface is shrinking, becomes large swamp meadow—Yila Prairie, and there are black-necked cranes which are national first-grade state protection animals flying here for winter.

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