Bitahai Lake

Hidden in a dense forest, Bitahai Lake (Bita Hai) is a well known freshwater lake in western Yunnan. In Tibetan, Bita means blanket of oak trees. The lake is at an elevation of 3540 meters (11,614 ft.) and is 40 meters (128 ft.) at its deepest point. It is an emerald color all year round. The local Tibetans believe that it appeared when a fairy lady dropped her miracle mirror. In the novel The Lost Horizon James Hills depicts it as a Blue Lake, an essential part of Shangri-La.

Bitahai Lake Bitahai Lake
Bitahai Lake is surrounded by thick forest. Bitahai Lake boasts flowers, grassland, blue sky and green hill

An island in the middle of the lake is covered in dense spruce and azalea woods. Boats can ferry tourists there for hiking and exploring. The refreshing surroundings of green grass, singing birds, and fragrant flowers can make one imagine they entered a fairy world.

The Bitahai Lake Nature Reserve is in the subtropics. The vegetation is characterized by abies-fabri, totaling 2.23 million cubic meters. A number of rare animals and birds live in the reserve including some Class-A species currently protected by the state such as: clouded leopards, black necked cranes, and red green-tailed pheasants. Class-B species also under state protection include: rhesus monkeys, red pheasants, and Tibetan-eared pheasants. Others are more common such as black bears, brown bears, Tibetan pikas, and parrots.

In order not to spoil the Bitahai Lake Nature Reserve, tourists are required to ride 22 kilometers (13.6 mi) from Shangri-La County to Shuangqiao. After that they can either walk or ride on horse back the rest of the way. On the way one can feel the local people's hospitality, or recall the feelings of the Red Army soldiers when they marched across the grassland.

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