Tilicho Lake, Nepal

Lake Locations:

Nepal -

Also known as:  Tilicho Tal

Tilicho Lake isn’t the kind of lake you decide to drop by some weekend. The high-altitude lake in Nepal’s Himalaya Mountains is located at over 16,000 feet near the Tibet border. Surprisingly, a relatively large number of visitors arrive here to view the beautiful lake during the summer months. At this altitude, winter access is difficult to impossible. The lake is what is known as a tarn-a lake dammed naturally by glacial movement and deposits. Tilicho Lake, also known as Tilicho Tal, has several in-flowing small rivers, nearly all fed by nearby glaciers and summer snow melt. It is surrounded by spectacular peaks. The hardy trekkers arriving here add valuable dollars to Nepal natives’ meager incomes and are most welcome.

Located within the 1,885,167-acre Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA), Tilicho Lake is considered a holy spot in the Hindu religion. The Annapurna is the largest conservation area in the country of Nepal and attracts more than 60% of the nation’s trekkers. Because of the valuable influx of foreign ecotourists, several guest houses or inns have been built in the conservation area to accommodate them. One of these guest houses facilitates visits to Tilicho Lake. Without the guest facilities, hikers would be forced to spend at least one night in the open in far from hospitable weather conditions.

There are no public facilities at Tilicho Lake. Boating and swimming are not possible due to the inaccessible shoreline and the cold temperatures of the waters. The landscape is striking in its stark beauty. On the southwestern side, a glacier ends at the water’s edge. Steep windswept slopes make hiking around the lake near the shore impossible. Traveling from one end to the other requires following trails that wind behind the near-shore ridge for several miles. Most of the trails are challenging with loose gravel, so keeping one’s footing can be difficult. The south shoreline is blocked by the cliffs, and behind them, the “Grande Barriere” ridge, with sides so steep that snow cannot stick to them. The only access to the lake is via the east and west ends where small river valleys offer flatter trails.

Even with all of these hardships, and possibly because of the difficulty, the lake receives many visitors each year, usually being led by one of the local guides. A few adventure tourism companies lead treks to Tilicho Lake and usually make arrangements for transportation and accommodations in the local area. There are no roads approaching Tilicho Tal, so several hours of hiking are required. Even the most physically fit tourists are advised to spend the night at the nearest guest house to give their bodies time to acclimate to the high altitude. The Tilicho Base Camp Lodge is operated by villagers in Khangsar, a picturesque little village with few tourist services. A pass was finally located through the western mountains, so a new guest lodge has been opened at that end of the lake. Little is known of these facilities, but most in the area are rather rough with few luxuries except shelter and some form of heat.

Reports of the lake’s elevation vary, but most estimate it is located at 16,138 feet. Actual official figures for the lake don’t appear to exist, but the lake is reported to be about 1,200 acres and nearly 280 feet deep. Trekking to Tilicho Lake is an adventure in both physical endurance and in obtaining unaltered views of the way in which the local people live. It is not unusual to see an isolated gompa (religious building) clinging to the side of the mountain, and yak herders’ huts perched overlooking lower pastures where the barely domesticated yaks graze. Colorful prayer flags catch the wind in high places, and the local residents are usually friendly and eager to earn a few dollars acting as guides or pack bearers.

Other parts of the Annapurna Conservation Area (ACA) are more easily accessed. It is one of the first conservation areas where the local people are allowed to remain within the boundaries and also own their own property. ACA receives no government support and relies solely on entrance fees charged to access the park. Over 120,000 local residents of several ethic groups live within the conservation area. The ACA contains the world’s deepest river gorge, Kali Gandaki Gorge, and a valley where fossils are found from the Tethys Sea, which existed over 60 million years ago. The world’s largest natural rhododendron forest is located here in Ghorepani. Strongly biodiverse, the area has over 12,000 species of flowering plants, 494 bird species, and over 100 mammals located within its borders.

Experienced mountain trekkers may decide to plan and execute their trip without professional assistance. Less seasoned hikers will definitely want to avail themselves of a travel professional experienced in Himalayan travel, with clear maps and a full understanding of the terrain and local political conditions. They will also be able to advise you on proper clothing for the weather and what kinds of supplies you will need and where to obtain them. Some areas near Tilicho Lake are considered military reserves and off-limits to visitors. Tilicho Lake is ‘bucket list’ material for the truly adventurous.

*All statistics are from unofficial sources and may not be accurate.

Things to do at Tilicho Lake

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Camping
  • Hiking

Tilicho Lake Photo Gallery

Tilicho Lake Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Surface Area: 1,186 acres

Shoreline Length: 7 miles

Normal Elevation (Full Pond): 16,139 feet

Average Depth: 279 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

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Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

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This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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