Namtso is one Tibet's most sacred lakes, and is known by locals as a Holy Lake. With over 9 holy lakes in Tibet, Namtso is considered the most famous. This stunning, mountainous lake is located in Nagqu, a town in northern Tibet approximately 200 miles by road north-east of the capital Lhasa. The lake itself is situated at a height of over 15,000 feet, covering an area of 1180 square miles; this is one of the highest and largest salt lakes in the world. The Holy Lake is home to five uninhabited islands once used for pilgrimages although now banned by the government. Locals regarded this trek as a spiritual retreat, with pilgrims walking over the lake's frozen surface at the end of winter, carrying their food with them. They spent the summer there, unable to return to shore again until the water froze the following winter. Visitors here can enjoy the incredible surroundings with wild yaks, an endless variety of birds, hares and other local wildlife that are part of the ecosystem of this picturesque destination. Local people in their colorful traditional dress will happily pose for photos, and allow tourists to ride their yak for a small fee or enjoy a walk along the shore, climb the rocky landscape or visit the old monastery at the top of the hill cleverly built into the rocks.