Lugu Lake lies 200 kilometers (approximately 124 miles) from the center of Lijiang City, on the border between Ninglang County in Yunnan Province and Yanyuan County in Sichuan Province. The lake is like a beautiful pearl shining among the hills of the northwest plateau in Yunnan.
The lake is in the shape of a horse’s hoof – long from north to south, and narrower from east to west. The vista of the lake changes constantly throughout the day. The morning mist mixed with the light of the rising sun gives the lake an orange glow covered by mist. When the light of sun causes the hills to throw their shadows onto the water, the lake has a jade green color. The lake is calm and dark green in the evening when the sun sinks, and is peaceful when night comes. Gentle wind blows and water ripples.
On the lake there are five islands. They are different sizes and are like green boats floating on the water. Heiwawu Island, Liwubi Island, and Lige Island are most notable. Heiwawu Island is in the center of the lake and has a variety of birds living on it. The smallest island on the lake is Nixi Island – an oblong rock covered with shrubs and moss. Besides the five islands, there are also three peninsulas and an island which is linked to a seawall on the shore by a path paved with small stones.
Mystery and charm surround the lake, partly because it was once an unspoiled place and still retains much of its totally natural beauty, but mostly because the Mosuo people who live there form a matriarchal society. There is no marriage. Men stay in the women’s home as mates called ‘Axia’ and the intimate relationship lasts as long as they like. Children are brought up by women, and use the surname of their mothers. Families are composed of the members of the matrilineal kin. Women operate production and management, and hold the principal position in the society, forming a modern day ‘woman’s kingdom’, which adds mystique to this place.
The lake is encircled with hills. The water is clean and inviting, with fish swimming in it. The forest around is dense and the air is fresh. This is a place that is little tainted by modern industry – the natural beauty is retained. The weather is pleasant – it is cool in summer and warm in winter. All the seasons are as comfortable as spring, but the best seasons to come here are spring and summer when the hills are emerald green, the flowers are in bloom and the birds are singing happily.