On a high plateau ringed by formidable snow peaks is the Sayram Lake pasture, where nurture millions of Mongol and Kazak clans. It overflows with vigor and provides abundant grazing land, perfect for raising cattle.
In winter, snow falls and the lake water turns to ice. Only a small part of the lake can be seen in the vast whiteness of ice and snow.
In summer, sapphire water seems to join the sky in the distance. The pasture, which stretches to the horizon, is a charming scene of flourishing trees, waving grass and wildflowers which reflect off clear water from the lake. Smoke from kitchen chimneys curls upward, groups of cattle and sheep move like clouds in the sky. Varied yellow flowers necklace the lake and glisten like gold under the sun. In July, pastures are dotted with white Mongolian yurts and colorful wild flowers in full-bloom, to compose a pastoral tranquility.
The lake is crystal clear and a bit salty, supporting fish and birds, including white swans, with its aquamarine water reflecting snow-covered peaks. The intensive beauty may seem unreal, dreamlike.
photo by photo100.com
Surrounded by verdant pastures and snow capped lofty peaks above the timberline, stepped on densely wooded forests, the lake scenic area has exhausted many rolls of films.
In the 1970's, a program was begun to cultivate fish in a large area of the lake. It has been very successful and the region has become a popular tourist destination. Today, Sayram Lake is one of the largest live marine bases in Bortala Mongolian Autonomous Prefecture.
There is also a ruin at the other side of the lake and it is a place where the Mongolian Emperor Chenkisikan called his army there.
In August, every July and August, local 'Chahra' Mongolian and Kazakh herdsmen converge onto the pasture to hold a grand festival, known as the Nadam Festival. Mongolian people celebrate the "Nadam Fair" for six days beside the lake. Nadam means recreation or games in Mongolian. During the Nadam Fair, competitions are held in horse-racing, wrestling and archery, which are considered the three basic skills of men. Mongolian, Kazak, Han Chinese and people of other ethnic groups in Xinjiang participate in the festival. Mongolian herders from nearby regions attend the fair and dress in traditional ethnic costumes. In addition to the competitions, there is singing, dancing and the age-old competition of "girl-chasing". The Kazak horse back games of "Buz Kashi" and "Girl-Chasing" promise a rich cultural experience of the well-preserved traditions unique to this remarkable region. The fair is great fun for tourists and very entertaining. It is rewarded with lasting impressions of a cultural continuum that has its roots in the beginning of Central Asian history. During this time, Sayram Lake is blessed with a double portion of good fortune in water and pasture.
photo by http://www.fblife.com.cn/geography_in.asp?geog_id=25
Tourist books say: "Snow-covered mountains can be seen in the distance. The lake water at dusk is grey and brown. Under the brilliance of sunset, mountains are very beautiful with aesthetic outlines".
Throughout the ages, poets and writers have used vivid and glowing words to praise Sayram Lake. During the middle period of Qing Dynasty, Ye Honggao called Sayram Lake a "clear sea". Later, Song Bolu used verse to describe the natural scenery of the wide and clear Sayram Lake, "The surrounding mounts engulf; the emerald lake wipes the sky clear". Hong Liangji, another poet from the Qing Dynasty, described Sayram Lake in one of his poems: "a unique place in the West Region, Xanadu on the earth".
photo by http://bbs.fblife.com/printpage.asp?BoardID=14&ID=8367
The large lake area is a great place to go hiking or riding. Taking a wander around the lake can make you feel refreshed. Relax yourself in the beautiful landscape with the blue water and white Mountains and enjoy sunset there.
Horse riding and motor boating are available around the shore. Horses can be hired from the local herdsmen who typically charge about 20 yuan per hour or a worthy price for a day.
Accommodations are available around Sayram Lake at about 200 yuan per day or about 15 yuan for a dormitory bed at Sayram Hostel.
How to get there
Catch a minibus at Yining bus station on Jiefang Road. The trip takes about 3 hours and bus fare should be less than 30 yuan.