Dinh Hang

Having spent over a decade exploring the world, I’ve fallen in love with many lakes. Some of my fondest memories include horseback riding beside the giant crystal clear lake of Khuvsgul in Mongolia and watching rare orange-pink flamingos swim on Laguna Colorada in Bolivia…

The Marble Caves in General Carrera Lake

Natural masterpieces of Lake General Carrera

When I arrived at General Carrera Lake in Chile, I was amazed by the white peaks of the Andes, which remained snow-covered in mid-summer. As a warm summer breeze brushed my cheeks, my boat glided over the lake’s dreamy turquoise water. Its color was formed by tiny particles from the Patagonia glaciers.

When glaciers melt, many particles are suspended in the water. This slightly clouded water refracts the blue light in the sun’s rays, giving the water a distinctive turquoise color.

Chile's General Carera Lake has a distinctive turquoise color

Lake General Carrera draws adventurers, since it is home to a one-of-a-kind cave system called the Marble Caves. This location can only be accessed by boat. On a peninsula, various enormous marble caves wow visitors with countless majestic rock shapes that resemble natural sculptures.

Over thousands of years, the lake’s water has eroded lines onto the cave walls, creating near-perfect “brush strokes”. Crystal white columns are reflected on the lake’s turquoise surface, stirring poetic feelings in visitors’ minds.

Scenic drives in Southern Bolivia 

Uyuni was freezing when I hopped into an old car with five travelers and two drivers, eagerly setting off across Southern Bolivia. It proved to be one of the most beautiful, overwhelming, and breathtaking trips of my life. 

Laguna Colorada is a salt lake in Bolivia

Within three days, we had passed through the largest natural salt field in the world, the driest desert, which had nothing but rocks and pebbles, and seen fairy-like lakes that had started to freeze in the cold.

The orange-pink salt lake of Laguna Colorada appeared after a long day on the road. The lake’s surface was vast and encircled by rolling mountains and craggy rocks, which became even more surreal thanks to flocks of fluttering exotic Puna pink flamingos. Laguna Colorada’s surface is red due to algae and other microorganisms, creating a clear contrast with large white spots formed by borax salt deposits. 

Puna pink flamingos

Before reaching the lake I had to endure a night shivering in a freezing unheated inn. I shook for three hours until I finally fell asleep, completely exhausted. 

The high-altitude Lake Khuvsgul

I stopped at Lake Khuvsgul on the way to a remote reindeer village on the border of Mongolia and Russia. The largest freshwater lake in Mongolia, Khuvsgul is 136km-long and contains nearly 70% of Mongolia’s freshwater reserves.

Khuvsgul Lake contains nearly 70% of Mongolia's fresh water

The best way to experience Lake Khuvsgul’s majesty is on horseback. I rode to the top of a peak in the wonderful Sayan Range that circles the lake. The panoramic views were awe-inspiring. The lake’s surface seemed to extend into the sky.

On the great Sayan Range

Khuvsgul is dubbed “the blue pearl of Mongolia”. Its sweet blue shade hypnotized my soul. At sunset and sunrise, this lake is especially captivating.

Floating on Lake Titicaca  

Located on the border of Peru and Bolivia, Titicaca is not only the largest lake in South America but also the highest freshwater lake accessible to humans. However, the most interesting thing about Titicaca is the manmade floating reed islets called “Uros” – after the indigenous people who make them. When the boat docked and I stepped onto an islet, I felt my whole body sway with the lake’s waves.

Uros people use boats woven from reeds for transport and fishing

Today, more than 1,000 Uros people still live on approximately 100 floating islets. Islets, houses, and even the boats used for transport and fishing are woven from reeds that grow in the lake. Uros people have lived here for many generations. Their livelihoods depend on fishing, bird-hunting, and collecting birds’ eggs in the reeds.

The Uros like to joke that if you forget to tie up your islet before going to sleep, you’ll float from Peru to Bolivia or vice versa. Each islet holds from one to a dozen households. Made by hand, the islets last about 30 years. To help preserve them, people add a new layer once a week in the rainy season, and once a month in the dry season.

Enchanting Lake Pangong

Having just arrived in India, I was still getting used to the high altitude of Chang La Pass, set 5,360m above sea level, when, around midday, a surreal sight appeared around a bend: the magical blue Pangong Lake, seen from afar.

Travel blogger Dinh Hang beside Lake Pangong

In the early autumn sun, the lake slowly revealed its dreamy hues, which ranged from heart-wrenching jade green to gentle sky blue, or pale shades that evoked the endless universe.

The water’s surface rippled with a few small waves beneath the dry rocky mountains and awe-inspiring blue sky, as white clouds passed by. Lovely golden wildflowers swayed in the wind among light golden fields of reeds, while strong stone pillars stood firmly between heaven and earth. 

Pangong is not only known for its huge lake, which is 150km-long, but also for its colorful scenery. I gently touched the cold, crystal clear water, feeling my body awaken in a dream come true.