Nestling on the border between Yunnan and Sichuan province, Lugu Lake lies at 2,700 metres above sea level and offers spectacularly unspoilt scenery as well as fascinating Mosuo minority culture — one of the last practising matriarchal societies in the world.
Surrounded by mountains on all sides, the lake is unblemished by industry or development thanks to its remoteness, and offers opportunities for walking or trekking, as well as boating in a traditional Mosuo dug-out canoe on the lake. After the hustle and bustle of China's towns and cities, a visit here can make a welcome change of pace.
The Mosuo are a branch of the (Lijiang based) Naxi people, strong believers in Tibetan Buddhism. Each family is led by the grandmother of the oldest generation. Daily life is run by a capable female member selected by the grandmother and the uncles are in charge of the children born into the family.
The Mosuo are known for their 'walk in' marriages where the female allows a male to visit her once after midnight and before 6am. Any children born to the females stay within her family.
Around the lake
The lake is dotted with small villages and is becoming increasingly popular with visiting domestic tourists. Luoshui is the largest village on the lake and best seen as a day trip from a smaller village elsewhere.
We suggest staying in Li Ge, further round the lake. This smaller village, which consists of just one street, is becoming popular with Chinese backpackers, but nevertheless retains its charm and has spectacular views of the lake.