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High Himalayan Lakes in Nepal

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Whispers of Altitude: Nepal’s High Himalayan Lakes

Nestled among the towering peaks of the Himalayas, Nepal is not just home to eight of the world’s fourteen 8,000-meter peaks but also a myriad of stunning high-altitude lakes. These glacial and freshwater bodies, tucked away in the country’s remotest corners, offer mesmerising beauty and narrate tales of spirituality, folklore, and ecological significance. In this article, we’ll traverse the mountainous terrains of Nepal to explore its enchanting high-altitude lakes.

1. Gokyo Lakes

The Gokyo Lakes are the world’s highest freshwater lake system in the Everest region. This series of six lakes, of which Thonak is the largest, are a UNESCO World Heritage site and hold ecological and religious significance. 

Hikers undertaking the Gokyo Ri journey are treated to the sight of deep blue waters contrasted by towering snow-covered mountains, further enhanced by the magnificent presence of the Ngozumpa Glacier, the Himalayas’ grandest glacier.

2. Tilicho Lake

At about 4,919 meters, Tilicho Lake in the Annapurna range is one of the world’s highest lakes. Its turquoise waters, surrounded by stark, dramatic landscapes, are a sight to behold. The lake is also associated with the Hindu epic, the Mahabharata, further adding to its allure.

3. Rara Lake

Rara Lake, Nepal’s most expansive lake, is nestled inside Rara National Park in the distant Northwestern area. Often called the ‘Queen of Lakes’, its pristine blue waters perfectly reflect the surrounding lush forests and snow-capped peaks. Despite its remote location, the journey to Rara offers an authentic experience of Nepal’s unspoiled beauty.

4. Phoksundo Lake

Shey Phoksundo Lake, nestled in the Shey Phoksundo National Park in the Dolpo region, is a gem of western Nepal. Known for its enchanting beauty and unique greenish-blue colour, the lake is a sacred site for both Buddhists and followers of the Bonpo religion. The nearby Phoksundo Waterfall, the highest in Nepal, adds another layer of charm to this region.

5. Gosainkunda Lake

Located in the Langtang National Park, Gosainkunda is not just one lake but a complex of alpine freshwater oligotrophic lakes. Among these, the primary Gosainkunda Lake, at an altitude of 4,380 meters, holds immense religious significance, especially for Hindus. Thousands of pilgrims trek to its shores yearly during Janai Purnima, believing its waters have divine powers.

6. Dudh Pokhari

Situated near the base of Mount Manaslu, the world’s eighth-highest mountain, Dudh Pokhari is a sacred lake for both Hindus and Buddhists. The name translates to ‘Milky Pond’, and the lake, with its calm, creamy waters, truly lives up to its name, providing trekkers a serene spot to meditate upon nature’s grandeur.

Ecological Significance and Threats

These high-altitude lakes are more than just scenic spots; they are biodiversity hotspots, supporting a range of flora and fauna adapted to harsh conditions. They also play a crucial role in the hydrological cycle, feeding rivers and supporting communities downstream.

However, with climate change, many of these lakes face threats like glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs), where rising temperatures lead to accelerated glacial melts, causing the lakes to burst. It’s imperative to approach these regions sensitively, ensuring sustainable trekking and minimal ecological footprints.


The high Himalayan lakes of Nepal are a testament to nature’s splendour, where sky, water, and earth converge in a harmonious coexistence. Whether you’re a trekker, a spiritual seeker, or a nature lover, these lakes beckon with their serene beauty and profound narratives. As you embark on a journey to explore them, remember that these delicate ecosystems need our respect and protection to ensure they continue to enchant future generations.

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