Sayram Lake Scenic Area, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region
Location: Bole city, Bortala Mongolian autonomous prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region
Scenic Spot Level: AAAAA
Opening Hours: 9 am - 9 pm
General admission: 140 yuan ($21.74) (single day), 190 yuan (two days), shuttle bus fare included
The alpine lake Sayram is affectionately dubbed 'the last teardrop of the Atlantic Ocean'. [Photo/slmhjq.com]
Sayram Lake lies on the northern slope of the Tianshan Mountains and neighbors the Ili River valley. Caressed by the warm air carried by winds from the distant Atlantic Ocean, this alpine lake benefits greatly from the ample moisture and is affectionately dubbed "the last teardrop of the Atlantic Ocean".
Resting at an altitude of 2,073 meters, Sayram is the highest lake in Xinjiang and one of the highest in China. The 453-square-kilometer cold water lake, also the largest in Xinjiang, is 30 miles long from east to west and 25 miles long from north to south. The lake is quite deep. Although it is less than one fifth the size of Taihu Lake in East China, its water volume at 21 billion cubic meters is five times greater.
Standing by Sayram Lake, one can hardly tell the lake from the sky, for the azure sky is reflected on the calm lake surface, while the sky in the distance resembles a body of tranquil water.
Aside from the intoxicating natural scenery, Sayram lake shore area is also home to abundant cultural remains left by ancestral inhabitants. [Photo/slmhjq.com]
The scenic area was thus established to present, preserve, and leverage the lake’s charms, as well as those of its surrounding mountains and grassland landscape. It is easy to access for travelers. Located in the Bortala Mongolian autonomous prefecture, the lake is some 600 kilometers from Urumqi, the capital city of Xinjiang. This arresting tourist destination is recommended as an addition to your west-route (or the Ili-route) travel itinerary, and is best visited in June and July -- the high summer when the thick ice on the lake is thawed and assorted wild flowers dominate the surrounding verdant grassland against the backdrop of snow-capped mountains. Every July, the traditional Mongolian festival Naadam is held on the lakeshore grassland to enliven the atmosphere at the foot of the snow mountain.
Aside from the intoxicating natural scenery, the lake shore area is also home to abundant cultural remains left by ancestral inhabitants, including rock paintings, temples, steles, post houses, and a tomb complex of the ancient Kingdom of Wusun.