This amazing lake lies next to the amazing historic sites
in the Dali valley and the natural scenery and good hiking
trails on Cangshan Mountain. The whole region is full of interesting
and beautiful sites. The easy access to beautiful and quiet
places to camp, ride horses, ride bikes and hike in high mountains
is unusual in China. You can experience ethnic cultures in
this area as well. The ancient city of Dali and the other
historic sites lie west of Erhai Lake. The local people feel
that this big lake with its clear water and its reflections
of land and sky as well as the entire region are unusually
beautiful, and it is another highlight of a visit to Yunnan
Erhai Lake and Cangshan Mountain make majestic scenery. The
mountain peaks are often mirrored in the lake, along with
the sun and moon. This is because the water is unusually clear
for a lake as large as it is. It covers an area of about 250
square kilometers. Lining its banks in the valley are fishing
villages, Bai farming villages, ancient temples, historic
towns and the ancient city of Dali. You can watch the people
live their daily lives in a traditional way. That is an interesting
backdrop for the scenery. It is said that the reflection of
the moon in the water is especially beautiful against the
backdrop of the mountains, and while visiting the lake or
the villages, you may enjoy riding a boat out on the water
and enjoy ethnic cuisine and drink the traditional Bai tea.
Physically, the lake sits in a high altitude
valley at an elevation of 1,972 meters (about 6,500 feet)
on the eastern side of Cangshan Mountain. Erhai means "Ear
Lake," and it is called that because of its shape. It is a
long and narrow lake that is about 41 kilometers long. Its
width varies between 3 and 9 kilometers. It is China's second
largest highland lake. It has an average depth of 11 meters.
Many streams from Cangshan Mountain flow into the lake. In
the north, the Miju and Mici Rivers flow into it, and the
Bolou River flows in from the east. Yangbi River is the lake's
outlet in the south where it flows past Tuanshan Peak and
Erhai Park, and the Yangbi River eventually flows into the
Lancang River (the Mekong River in Vietnam).
One of the travel highlights is said to be a boat ride. People
can ride boats and visit temples and small islands in the
lake, and they may enjoy the local cuisine and the Bai tea
ceremony while they are doing so. In the simple ceremony,
three different kinds of Bai tea are served. Islands in the
lake include Guanyin Ge (Guanyin Pavilion), Jinsuo Island,
Nanzhao Fengqing Island and Xiao Putuo Island.
The lake is an important source of food,
and the Bai fishermen catch fish in an interesting way. They
train cormorants to catch fish and return it to them. The
cormorants can't swallow the fish because they have constricting
rings around their necks. Imagine a dinner of cooked carp
that was caught in the clean water by a cormorant on the banks
of the lake.
The lakeshore can be explored by hiking
and bicycling. Bikes are available for rent. Nearby are many
historic sites such as the Three Pagodas and the ancient city
of Dali and Xizhou. There are many villages you may visit.
Some are mainly Bai villages and some have a mixed population.
The nearby high mountains can be explored
by hiking, on horseback, or by car. There is a road linking
the various sites on the 19 peaks. But the mountain is a good
hiking area, which waterfalls, forests, and high peaks to
climb. You can bring tents. A cable car that passes high over
a forest connects the ancient city of Dali and one of the
Highlights around include Erhai Lake Park
and the Butterfly Springs on the western bank of the lake.
Erhai Lake Park is on Tuanshan Peak at the southern end of
Erhai Lake, and it is about two and a half kilometers away
from the modern sector of Dali. It is a good place to enjoy
the sights of Cangshan Mountain and Erhai Lake. The park has
an arboretum, a zoo, and a public swimming pool, and there
is a path through the park to an observation area on the mountain.