Last updated by drwi at 2014/10/30
Bositeng Hu, or Lake Bositeng, located in the Bayangol Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture (Bazhou, for short) of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang), has so many names that it is almost absurd to list them all, but since the lake lies within a Mongol enclave of a Uyghur region, it seems reasonable to provide the lake's Mongolian and Uyghur names, which are Bositen nao'er and Baghrash kol, respectively (note: bositen means "to be on one's feet" in Mongolian, and note also that the "g" ending in the lake's name here is a Sinicization).
The Mongolian name is a reference to three low-lying islands standing in the lake. In ancient times, the lake was called West Sea, and during the Tang (CE 618-907) Dynasty, the lake was called Fish Sea. The lake got its current Chinese name, Bositeng, during the Qing (CE 1644-1911) Dynasty. Lake Bositeng is located on the southeastern edge of the Yanqi Basin, within the boundaries of Bohu County ("Bohu" itself being a contraction of the lake's Chinese name), the largest river-fed/ river-drained freshwater lake in China (there are any number of larger lakes in China, but Lake Bositeng essentially amounts to a large, relatively shallow, triangular-shaped wetland area through which a river flows). It covers an area of roughly 1000 square kilometers.
There are a dozen or so small lake areas of varying sizes in the southwestern section of Lake Bositeng, with a few larger lake areas interspersed among these smaller lake areas (note that almost the entire lake, being a marshy wetland, is dotted with low "islands", some of which are above water and some of which are beneath the surface, and it is this feature that creates the "lake areas" within the lake). The southeastern section of the lake is considerably deeper, with its deepest lake area measuring 16 meters in depth, in contrast to the shallowest lake areas in the southwestern section, whose depth varies from 0.8 to 2 meters.
The vast expanse of the deep-water area of the lake, i.e., the southeastern section of the lake, is characterized by early-morning mists, and when the wind kicks up as the day progresses, the water surface is transformed into concentric semi-circles of ripples. The view of this dark-blue, lush part of the lake, mingled with the lighter blue of the skies above, but surrounded by parched-brown sand (the Taklamakan Desert begins at the city of Korla, about 20 kilometers southwest of Lake Bositeng), has prompted comparisons to an oasis, while some liken it to a "Hawaii of the desert", given that Hawaii is similarly surrounded by a vast expanse, albeit, an ocean of water rather than an ocean of sand. While it is true that this is one very hot place on earth (Turpan, which lies about 200 kilometers northeast of Lake Bositeng, is considered the hottest place in China, if not on earth - some have likened its heat to Hell), it is also starkly beautiful, with Badlands-like rock stratification (the Badlands being a geographical area, now a US National Park, in the state of South Dakota characterized by massive, eroded and exposed rock stratifications).
The shallower part of the lake, with its many green reeds and fragrant lotus fronds, its many wading birds and its lush patches of land, or islets, is praised as "the Land of Peach Blossoms", a Chinese reference to a fabled land of peace and tranquility, far from the hustle and bustle - and conflicts - of the real world. There are several underground hot springs round about the eastern part of the lake, with a diameter varying from 10-30 meters, and some of which are in the form of a geyser. In spite of this, the lake supports two major fish populations: a catfish species and a special carp species (aka pipefish) called the "cracked-abdomen" fish in everyday parlance, or the Schizothoracinae Mountain carp, in zoological terminology, though these are to be found in the deeper part of the lake. The lake is a transitory home to countless migratory birds, many rare. It is also the permanent home to the Mongolian gazelle as well as to wild deer.
All in all, the area around Lake Bositeng offers a unique natural environment, with much to offer nature lovers in general, and bird watchers in particular. The greater area around the lake includes extensive grasslands and a mountainous nature preserve that is home to many wild animals - especially of the hooved variety. Loulan Ancient City is not far away, and then there is always Lake Bositeng's own Golden Sand Beach, where you can sunbathe in fine, clean sand, swim, rent a boat, or partake in various other water activities.
Solo Adventure Tips:
How to Get There?
You can catch a bus to Lake Bositeng from the prefecture post office at the city of Korla. There are 6 return trips daily.
Opening Hours: From 10:00AM to 2:00PM, and again from 3:00PM to 7:30PM, daily.
From 10:00AM to 2:00PM, and again from 3:00PM to 7:30PM, daily.
More Tips: 1) Minimum recommended time for a visit: an entire day.
2) Be sure to visit both the shallower part of the lake as well as its deeper part. At the deeper part of the lake, you will see many seagulls and herons constantly flying over its broad surface, and though you may not see them, there are plenty of fish below the surface, some of them very tasty. This you can test yourself by dining in one of the lakeside restaurants. The shallower, western part of the lake is a bird's - and bird watcher's - paradise. There are especially many wading birds - bring your binoculars, and a camera with a telephoto lens!
1) Minimum recommended time for a visit: an entire day.
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