By Patrick Scally in Travel

Editor's note: All pictures for this article were taken by photographer Yereth Jansen on his last journey to northwestern Yunnan.

The announcement a week ago that construction of the Lugu Lake Airport has been delayed for the past three years was good news for some and bad for others. For the staff at GoKunming it was a bit of a downer.

Like many of the best natural settings in Yunnan, Lugu Lake (泸沽湖) is bit difficult to reach. From Lijiang it is still accessible only by roads that have a nasty relationship with the elements and are sometimes best accessed by motorcycle. That is set to change next year when the airport will presumably open its doors.

We put together some of our favorite shots from a past visit to Lugu Lake to show what it looked like then, and what it may not resemble in the near future. Hopefully someone will see the lake as a place not only to be admired but also preserved. Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan would be a good model.


Arriving by bus at Lugu Lake from Lijiang we were dropped at a long shoreside boulevard that constituted the town of Luoshui (落水). The road was lined with small shops, restaurants, guesthouses and homes, all with wonderful views.


Inside a courtyard home we snapped pictures of local architecture. Peering inside a tiny outbuilding we stumbling upon one of those strange sights only found in Southwest China: a flattened and preserved pig.


Lugu Lake does not offer much in terms of sandy beaches or crazy nightlife. The boulevard and village ended unceremoniously at the lakeside. Except for a small dock with boats bobbing gently in the water there were no other signs of people.


When we were there boats across the lake to the Sichuan side cost 80 yuan and prices have reportedly risen to 120 yuan per passenger. The boats were solidly built with flared bows that kept them from tipping when waves begin to swell.


We were not the only people on the lake but boat traffic was light. A group of tourists traveling in the opposite direction were obviously enjoying themselves immensely and flashed peace signs when we raised our cameras.


A trip across the lake takes about two hours in good weather. Once the wind began to blow our guide had to strain against the waves to make any progress. Waves started to splash over the sides of our boat and we ended up baling water with a conveniently placed Coke bottle.


When we neared the Sichuan side of the lake the wind died down and our progress sped up. In calmer waters near the shore we could see rocks on the lake bottom. Lugu Lake is famed for its clear water and is reported to often have underwater visibility of 10 meters.


On the Sichuan side the shore is a bit more swampy and the boats looked a little less seaworthy than the one we used for the crossing. Nonetheless, they were stacked with baskets of haicaihua just pulled from the water.


When we were there the Sichuan side was much less developed than the opposite shore. Goats wandered freely around town and took precedence over cars on the road. They also reminded us it was time for dinner.


We had a simple meal in a quaint wooden restaurant overlooking the lake. The views were fantastic and the yuxiang qiezi was delicious.


Sunset over the lake provided more photo opportunities. People walked down to the boardwalk to catch the last views of the day before night, and its accompanying chill, settled over town.


The next morning we decided to go for a hike to shake off the cold. It was a hazy day as we wandered up into the forested hills. There were several paths but the undergrowth was sparse and we could explore wherever we wanted.


After hiking for a few hours we were rewarded with a bird's eye view of the entire area. We were also alone in the woods and spent much of the afternoon enjoying the views.


We crested the hill and walked down to a secluded bay. A simple inn sat on the lonely shore. Dinner was served outside under starlight and the silence was almost complete.